The Invention of Sacred Tradition 9780521864794, 0521864798

Книга The Invention of Sacred Tradition The Invention of Sacred TraditionКниги Религия. Эзотерика Автор: James R. Lewis,

699 64 2MB

English Pages 319 Year 2007

Report DMCA / Copyright

DOWNLOAD PDF FILE

Recommend Papers

The Invention of Sacred Tradition
 9780521864794, 0521864798

  • Commentary
  • 12116
  • 0 0 0
  • Like this paper and download? You can publish your own PDF file online for free in a few minutes! Sign Up
File loading please wait...
Citation preview

THE INVENTION OF SACRED TRADITION

The dictionary definition of tradition refers to beliefs and practices that have been transmitted from generation to generation; however, ‘‘tradition’’ can rest simply on the claim that certain cultural elements are rooted in the past. Claim and documented historical reality need not overlap. In the domain of religion, historically verifiable traditions coexist with recent innovations whose origins are spuriously projected back into time. This book examines the phenomenon of ‘‘invented traditions’’ in religions, ranging in time from Zoroastrianism to Scientology, and geographically from Tibet to North America and Europe. The various contributions, together with an introduction that surveys the field, use individual case studies to address questions such as the rationale for creating historical tradition for one’s doctrines and rituals; the mechanisms by which hitherto unknown texts can enter an existing corpus; and issues of acceptance and skepticism in the reception of dubious texts. JAMES R. LEWIS

is Lecturer in Philosophy at the University of Wisconsin. He is editor of a number of collected works and author of numerous books and articles including Legitimating New Religions (2003).

O L A V H A M M E R is Professor, History of Religions at the University of Southern Denmark. His publications include Claiming Knowledge: Strategies of Epistemology from Theosophy to the New Age (2001).

THE INVENTION OF SACRED TRADITION EDITED BY

JAMES R. LEWIS AND

OLAV HAMMER

CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY PRESS

Cambridge, New York, Melbourne, Madrid, Cape Town, Singapore, São Paulo Cambridge University Press The Edinburgh Building, Cambridge CB2 8RU, UK Published in the United States of America by Cambridge University Press, New York www.cambridge.org Information on this title: www.cambridge.org/9780521864794 © Cambridge University Press 2007 This publication is in copyright. Subject to statutory exception and to the provision of relevant collective licensing agreements, no reproduction of any part may take place without the written permission of Cambridge University Press. First published in print format 2007 eBook (NetLibrary) ISBN-13 978-0-511-37107-3 ISBN-10 0-511-37107-1 eBook (NetLibrary) ISBN-13 ISBN-10

hardback 978-0-521-86479-4 hardback 0-521-86479-8

Cambridge University Press has no responsibility for the persistence or accuracy of urls for external or third-party internet websites referred to in this publication, and does not guarantee that any content on such websites is, or will remain, accurate or appropriate.

Contents

List of figures Notes on contributors

page vii viii

Introduction Olav Hammer and James R. Lewis

1

1 Scientology, scripture, and sacred tradition Mikael Rothstein

18

2 ‘‘He may be lying but what he says is true’’: the sacred tradition of don Juan as reported by Carlos Castaneda, anthropologist, trickster, guru, allegorist Charlotte E. Hardman

38

3 The invention of sacred tradition: Mormonism Douglas J. Davies

56

4 Antisemitism, conspiracy culture, Christianity, and Islam: the history and contemporary religious significance of the Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion Christopher Partridge and Ron Geaves

75

5 The invention of a counter-tradition: the case of the North American anti-cult movement David G. Bromley and Douglas E. Cowan

6

96

‘‘Heavenly deception’’? Sun Myung Moon and Divine Principle George D. Chryssides

118

7 ‘‘Forgery’’ in the New Testament Einar Thomassen

141 v

Contents

vi 8

Three phases of inventing Rosicrucian tradition in the seventeenth century Susanna A˚kerman

9

158

A name for all and no one: Zoroaster as a figure of authorization and a screen of ascription Michael Stausberg

177

10 The peculiar sleep: receiving The Urantia Book Sarah Lewis

11

199

Ontology of the past and its materialization in Tibetan treasures Holly Gayley

213

12 Pseudo-Dionysius: the mediation of sacred traditions Kevin Corrigan and Michael Harrington

241

13 Spurious attribution in the Hebrew Bible Philip R. Davies

258

14 Inventing Paganisms: making nature Graham Harvey

Index

277 291

Figures

8.1 John Dee’s Monas 11.1 Kutsab on display at Mindroling Monastery (second row) (Photo: Holly Gayley)

vii

page 162 230

Notes on contributors

S U S A N N A A˚ K E R M A N ,

who holds a PhD in philosophy, is presently employed as librarian at the Swedenborg Library in Stockholm. She is the author of several books on the Rosicrucian tradition. Her latest monograph is Rose Cross Over the Baltic: The Spread of Rosicrucianism in Northern Europe (1998).

DAVID G. BROMLEY

is Professor of Religious Studies and Sociology in the School of World Studies at Virginia Commonwealth University. He is a past president of the Association for the Sociology of Religion, past editor of the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, and founding editor of the Religion and the Social Order series. His most recent book, edited with J. Gordon Melton, is Cults, Religion and Violence (Cambridge University Press, 2002). He is currently completing a book on teaching about religion titled Teaching New Religious Movements (2007).

GEORGE D. CHRYSSIDES

is Head of Religious Studies at the University of Wolverhampton. His publications include The Advent of Sun Myung Moon (1991), Exploring New Religions (1999), Historical Dictionary of New Religious Movements (2001), A to Z of New Religious Movements (2006), and A Reader in New Religious Movements (2006, co-edited with Margaret Z. Wilkins), as well as numerous journal articles and contributions to anthologies on new religions. is Professor of the Liberal Arts in the Graduate Institute of the Liberal Arts at Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia. The focus of his research has been upon classics, philosophy, history, religion and literature. His most recent books are Reading Plotinus: A Practical Guide to Neoplatonism (2004) and Plato’s Dialectic at Play: Structure, Argument, and Myth in the Symposium (2004, with Elena Glazov-Corrigan).

KEVIN CORRIGAN

viii

Notes on contributors

ix

At present he is completing a manuscript on the topic of mind, soul, and body in the fourth century C E . DOUGLAS E. COWAN

is Associate Professor of Religious Studies and Social Development Studies at Renison College, University of Waterloo. He is the author of several books, including Bearing False Witness? An Introduction to the Christian Countercult (2003), Cyberhenge: Modern Pagans on the Internet (2005), and Cults and New Religions: A Brief History (2007, with David G. Bromley).

DOUGLAS J. DAVIES

is Professor in the Study of Religion at Durham University. An anthropologist and theologian, his general interests are in belief and ritual action with specialist research experience on funerary rites, Mormonism, and Anglicanism. He edited the Encyclopedia of Cremation (2005), and his books include An Introduction to Mormonism (2003), The Mormon Culture of Salvation (2000), A Brief History of Death (2004), and Death, Ritual and Belief (1997).

PHILIP R. DAVIES

holds degrees from the Universities of Oxford (1967) and St Andrews (1972), and is Professor Emeritus of Biblical Studies at the University of Sheffield. His books include In Search of Ancient Israel (1992), Whose Bible Is It Anyway? (1995), Scribes and Schools: The Canonization of the Hebrew Scriptures (1998), and The Complete World of the Dead Sea Scrolls (2002, with George Brooke and Phillip Callaway). is a doctoral candidate in Tibetan and Himalayan Studies at Harvard University. She has written an Introduction to The Life and Revelations of Pema Lingpa (2003) and an article, ‘‘Patterns in the Ritual Dissemination of Padma gling pa’s Treasures,’’ in Bhutan: Traditions and Changes (forthcoming). Currently, her research focuses on a contemporary female ‘‘treasure revealer’’ (gter ston), Khandro Tare Lhamo, from the Tibetan region of Golok.

HOLLY GAYLEY

is Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Chester. He is the author of Sectarian Influences in British Islam (1996), Sufis of Britain: An Exploration of Muslim identity (2000), Aspects of Islam (2005), and Key Words in Islam (2006), and is joint editor of Islam and the West: Post-September 11th (2004); he has also written a number of journal articles and contributions to edited works. His research interests are the diversity of Islam and the reproduction of such diversity in the West.

RON GEAVES

CHARLOTTE E. HARDMAN

is an anthropologist and is Senior Lecturer in the Department of Theology and Religion, Durham University. She is

Notes on contributors

x

the co-editor (with Susan Palmer) of the book Children in New Religions (1999), and has written several articles on the anthropology of children, on children in new religions, and on Paganism. She is the author of the monograph Other Worlds: Notions of Self and Emotion among the Lohorung Rai (2000). is the author of A Thirteenth-Century Textbook of Mystical Theology (2004) and Sacred Place in Early Medieval Neoplatonism (2004). He holds a doctorate in philosophy from Boston College, and is presently an assistant professor of philosophy at the University of Dallas.

MICHAEL HARRINGTON

is Lecturer in Religious Studies at the Open University. His research and publications have engaged with the discourses and practices of identity formation and negotiation among Pagans, indigenous peoples, and Jews.

GRAHAM HARVEY

is Lecturer in Religious Studies at University of Wales, Lampeter. Her doctoral thesis was on the Unification Church. She has published on The Urantia Book and on other aspects of new religious movements and New Age.

SARAH LEWIS

is Professor of Religion at Lancaster University, and Co-director of the Research Centre for Religion and Popular Culture. He is co-editor of the journal Fieldwork in Religion, and the author of The Re-Enchantment of the West (2 vols., 2004–6) and H. H. Farmer’s Theological Interpretation of Religion (1998). He is the editor of several volumes on religious belief in the contemporary world.

CHRISTOPHER PARTRIDGE

is Associate Professor in History of Religions at the University of Copenhagen. He specializes in the study of new and emerging religions, and has contributed to this field through numerous monographs, edited volumes, and articles. For the last several years he has also carried out research on religion among indigenous peoples of Hawaii, Borneo, and Central Brazil.

MIKAEL ROTHSTEIN

earned his PhD from the University of Bonn in 1995 and has been Professor of the Study of Religion at the University of Bergen since 2004. His publications include Faszination Zarathushtra (2 vols., 1998) and Die Religion Zarathushtras (3 vols., 2002–4). He is the editor of Zoroastrian Rituals in Context (2004) and co-editor of Theorizing Rituals (2 vols., 2006–7). He is presently preparing a study of the contemporary Zoroastrian priesthood. Other research areas

MICHAEL STAUSBERG

Notes on contributors

xi

include tourism and religion, the history of the study of religion, and theories of religion. EINAR THOMASSEN has been Professor of Religion at the University of Bergen

since 1993, after previous appointments in Uppsala and Oslo. A specialist in Gnosticism, he also teaches and has published widely on GrecoRoman religions, early Christianity, and Islam. His most important publications are Le Traite´ tripartite (1989) and The Spiritual Seed: The Church of the ‘‘Valentinians’’ (2006).

Introduction Olav Hammer and James R. Lewis

Modern societies present us with an ambivalent attitude toward the past. On the one hand, most of us are so much part of a culture of innovation that we tend to accord little power and importance to tradition.1 Being oldfashioned is an invective, whereas it is a virtue to be up to date. As Marx famously phrased it, in modern life all that is solid melts into air.2 Yet, at the same time that the idea of change, innovation, and progress permeates so much of our society, there are areas of life where tradition reigns. A felt continuity with the past provides social institutions and private life with a sense of stability. Religion must surely be one of the domains where the habit of referring to hoary tradition is most prevalent. Ancient texts are passed on through the ages, accepted ways of interpreting them are taught to new generations of members, and rituals are performed according to age-old precedents. In the dictionary sense of the word, tradition constitutes a set of inherited patterns of beliefs and practices that have been transmitted from generation to generation. In another sense, tradition can rest simply on the claim that certain cultural elements are rooted in the past. Claim and documented historical reality need not overlap. Indeed, in their classic study The Invention of Tradition, Eric Hobsbawm and Terence Ranger remind us that some of the best-known ‘‘ancient customs’’ are, in fact, quite recent innovations. The supposedly traditional Highland kilt was invented in the 1730s by an English Quaker from Lancashire. The tartan patterns, supposedly symbols of clan affiliation with roots in earliest recorded Celtic history, were created around the turn of the nineteenth century.3 In the domain of religion, we find an analogous situation, where historically verifiable traditions coexist with recent innovations whose In compiling the present introduction, we have particularly profited from discussions with Holly Gayley. For a classic discussion of the ambivalent role of the past, see Shils, Tradition. Marx, Communist Manifesto, section I; see also Berman, All That Is Solid. 3 Trevor-Roper, ‘‘Invention.’’ 1

2

1

2

OLAV HAMMER AND JAMES R. LEWIS

origins are spuriously projected back into time. In fact, the trend of inventing ancient historical lineages seems particularly prevalent in the world of religion. Observers of the contemporary New Age scene, for instance, can be struck by the habit of many books and websites to attribute hundreds if not thousands of years of history to practices and ideas that the usual standards of secular historiography date no further back than the 1970s and 1980s. And whereas Hobsbawm and Ranger point to the eighteenth century as the time when traditions began to be invented on a massive scale, the invention of sacred traditions appears to be a perennial motif in religious history. The ancient documents placed at the very beginning of the canonical texts of the Judeo-Christian tradition, the Pentateuch, are conventionally ascribed to the even earlier figure of Moses, who according to modern scholarship probably never existed, and who definitely did not write the texts. In the self-presentation of a given religion, the transmission of tradition can be roughly subdivided into two stages. On the one hand, many religions include claims that their creeds and practices were originally handed down from a transcendent source. The Vedas are said to be texts revealed to sages, rishis, at the beginning of each cycle of existence. The Qur’an as revealed to the prophet Muhammad is a copy of a heavenly text. It is, within the boundaries set by scholarly discourse, meaningless to debate whether a divine revelation is invented or genuine. On the other hand, most religions also present narratives which explain how the doctrines and practices revealed to the first human recipients have been passed down from them to the present day. Indeed, quite a few religious traditions display little overt interest in transcendent origins, but devote considerable effort to disseminating a particular view of how religious truths have been preserved for posterity. Groups as diverse as Scientology and the sympathetic readers of Carlos Castaneda’s works would be examples of religious bodies with little curiosity about the divine but much concern for the individuals who transmitted their spiritual insights to the rest of humanity. The distinction between transcendent origins and human transmission of texts is roughly analogous to that between myth and history. For the latter, the strictures of methodological agnosticism need not apply. In fact, scholarship has on innumerable occasions contradicted the historical claims put forth by the spokespersons of various religious groups. What does it mean for religious history or a religious tradition to be ‘‘invented’’? As one begins to unpack the concept, it becomes clear that the generic phrase ‘‘invention of sacred tradition’’ can cover several distinct cases.

Introduction

3

Pseudepigraphic texts can be strategically crafted by the person who actually wrote them in order to give the impression that the writer was somebody else. Numerous Mahayana Buddhist texts put words in the mouth of the historical Buddha, and reinforce the impression of authenticity by referring to specific people and places that also appear in the earliest sources. Other texts are anonymous in their first stage of transmission, but are misattributed to well-known writers by later commentators and readers. Several medieval texts by unnamed authors were attributed to Aristotle, because translators and commentators affirmed that these texts were part of his genuine writings, and readers for centuries continued to accept this attribution. Documents can be attributed to people who never existed. Throughout European religion history, seminal texts were attributed to the sage Hermes Trismegistus, a pagan theologian living at the time of Moses. Hermes’ stature was such that his works served to legitimate magic and other practices that the church officially frowned upon. Long after the humanist scholar Isaac Casaubon in the early seventeenth century proved beyond any doubt that the Hermetic texts were much younger than previously supposed, and it became clear that Hermes was entirely fictive, esotericists continued to attribute their teachings to the imaginary philosopher.4 Invented traditions can have quite distinct effects on a given religion. In some cases, such as Judaism, pseudepigraphic texts add new material to an already existing body of literature. In others, the spuriously attributed text serves as the founding document of a new departure in the history of the religion; the rise of Mormonism as a distinct development within a broader Christian tradition is an apt example of the latter. Despite such differences, the various versions of ‘‘invented tradition’’ raise similar questions. Why is it so common to misattribute texts? What rhetorical effects are achieved by misattribution? How is it possible to make adherents of a religion accept that a previously unknown text suddenly enters the corpus of scripture? Is the invention of tradition a predominantly modern phenomenon, as Hobsbawm and Ranger suggest on the basis of a variety of examples drawn from secular contexts? If not, does the invention of tradition in the modern West differ significantly from counterparts in 4

For a brief summary and extensive bibliography of the legend of Hermes Trismegistus, see the three articles in Hanegraaff, Dictionary, on the subject: van den Broek, ‘‘Hermes Trismegistus I: Antiquity’’; Lucentini, ‘‘Hermes Trismegistus II: Middle Ages’’; and Faivre, ‘‘Hermes Trismegistus III: Modernity’’.

4

OLAV HAMMER AND JAMES R. LEWIS

other places and times? It is to these and similar issues that we will now direct our attention. WHY ARE THERE INVENTED TRADITIONS?

Why does nearly every religion have spurious traditions and misattributed texts? Common to a wide variety of cases of invented traditions is the fact that the actual processes of human agency, as recoverable, for instance, through historical-critical research, are overlaid with a historiography that confers legitimacy to religious claims and practices. Some invented traditions obtain their legitimacy by recreating an ideal past, the time when the founding figure was still with them. In Weberian terms, emergent movements typically gather around charismatic figures. Members of the new religion can with their own eyes witness the astounding feats of their living leader. When the charismatic leader is no longer present, charisma needs to be transferred to some other medium for the movement to continue existing. The devotion once showered upon the founder is now shifted to tangible signs of the leader’s greatness: the founder’s image, places he or she visited, the works purportedly composed by the leader. The more the movement based its initial success on charisma, the more it may need to insist on attributing every single element of the tradition, including all of the subsequent textual material, to the charismatic individual. In his contribution below (chapter 1), Mikael Rothstein examines the case of Scientology, a religion so intensely dependent on the ascribed status of its founder, L. Ron Hubbard, that his charisma is vested in a number of different media: hagiographical narratives, photographs of the leader, his name, and even his signature. Every aspect of Scientology gains its legitimacy from Hubbard, who is perceived as the ultimate genius of humankind. Hubbard is no doubt the author of much of the scriptural corpus of Scientology, but as Rothstein remarks, simple arithmetic should convince us that he cannot be the source of everything published as canonical literature. In order to produce the entire body of texts, Hubbard would have needed to finish an unlikely number of pages every single day, year after year. Furthermore, outsiders to the movement have meticulously documented how various editions of the same text have changed over the two decades since Hubbard’s death. Notwithstanding, it is an unquestioned dogma of Scientology that every word in every single volume is a faithful copy of L. Ron Hubbard’s original writings. As a symbol of the unchanging nature of religious truth, copies of all the texts are kept at a safe location, stored in an underground vault.

Introduction

5

As illustrated in Charlotte E. Hardman’s paper (chapter 2), some religious movements take the historiographic legend of the nearly superhuman charismatic founder a decisive step further. The organizations and networks that preserve the legacy of Carlos Castaneda ascribe their tradition to Castaneda’s mentor, the Yaqui Indian Don Juan Matu´s. Don Juan certainly comes across as a charismatic leader; among his supernatural feats is the ability to leap over waterfalls. His extraordinary abilities confer legitimacy on his enigmatic and suggestive teachings, and these in turn are the very raison d’eˆtre of Castaneda’s books, of courses in the method based on Don Juan’s teachings, and of other products and activities related to Yaqui magico-religious practices. Don Juan’s teachings were also the indispensable precondition for Castaneda’s personal career: his encounters with the mysterious Yaqui wizard rendered him a PhD degree from UCLA, sales figures for his books soared into the millions, and, as the ultimate symbol of recognition, he was featured on the cover of the March 5, 1973 issue of Time magazine. From a strictly historical-critical point of view, there is one overriding problem with this tradition: the available evidence suggests that Don Juan never existed, and that he was a fictional character invented by Castaneda. Scientology and the teachings of Don Juan are contemporary innovations, and rely on invented traditions that, also from an insider’s perspective, are fairly recent. Even those who remain persuaded of the authenticity of Don Juan can be comfortable with the idea that the Yaqui sage discovered his own spiritual path, and did not faithfully transmit the age-old traditions of his ethnic group. For other movements, however, the constructed ideal past lies much further back. The most common cases of inventing sacred traditions may, in fact, be those in which the crucial legitimating events are projected centuries if not millennia into the past. The origin and development of an organization such as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS church), discussed in Douglas J. Davies’s contribution (chapter 3), will be understood very differently by adherents and outsiders. What to a historian of religions is a fairly modern denomination, created in 1830, is seen by Mormons as a restoration of the original Christian church. Its scriptures, also published for the first time in the 1830s, are similarly by LDS members understood to be faithful translations of originals composed many centuries earlier by Mormon, a fourth-century prophet of the lost race of Nephites, or by such biblical figures as Moses and Abraham. The authority gained by projecting one’s tradition into a legendary past, whether this past is recent or ancient, can serve several purposes. It

6

OLAV HAMMER AND JAMES R. LEWIS

strengthens cohesion within the group, by allowing individual members to identify with a common history: the shared veneration of Hubbard becomes an integrated part of what it means to be a Scientologist. It provides the doctrines and practices with an aura of plausibility: if the scriptures of the LDS church are ancient documents, the distinct theology of Mormonism is presumably also the original teaching transmitted to the first generations of Christians, before these doctrines were misrepresented by other denominations. And, with the LDS church again as an apt illustration, inventing one’s history enables religious innovators to shape the tradition of which they are part by ascribing at times radically new ideas to ancient, founding figures. If constructing an ideologically skewed historical lineage can bestow legitimacy on one’s own tradition, it should come as no surprise that hostile outsiders can create their own equally invented histories in order to delegitimate others. In their contribution (chapter 4), Christopher Partridge and Ron Geaves discuss one of the most infamous examples of this genre: The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. This book presents itself as a documentation of a crucial episode of modern Jewish history: a congress purportedly held by representatives of ‘‘the twelve tribes of Israel,’’ the Elders of Zion, who were plotting to take over the world and to subjugate gentiles. In reality, as is well known, the book is an elaborate forgery, created by the Russian secret police in the first years of the twentieth century, in order to justify its antisemitic policies. The true nature of the Protocols has been demonstrated beyond any reasonable doubt, and presumably few people in the West consider it to be an authentic record of a Jewish conspiracy. Nonetheless, it retains a surprisingly persistent influence in far-right Christian milieus and in the Arab world. Less virulent, but nevertheless deeply problematic from a historical point of view, are the delegitimating invented traditions created by anti-cultists, which attribute histories of mind control, brainwashing and criminal activities to the new religions that sprang into existence in the 1960s and 1970s. In their chapter (5), David G. Bromley and Douglas E. Cowan recount the rise of the anti-cult movement, and show how the concerns of parents and relatives of young people who joined new religious movements (NRMs) such as the Unification Church or ISKCON (the ‘‘Hare Krishnas’’) led them to create a mythical history of the movements they set out to combat. ‘‘Cults,’’ it was alleged, were in some sense ‘‘not really religious,’’ but had been created by leaders and gurus in order to pursue various, darkly hinted subversive goals. The cults were now recruiting young people at an alarming rate, and had developed mind-control techniques that prevented them from

Introduction

7

resisting attempts to draw them in. Readily available information that might have disproved the emergent invented tradition of the sinister cult, such as that members left the ‘‘cults’’ at nearly the same rate that new converts entered them, and that the new religious movements that triggered such controversy never achieved substantial membership size, were ignored. In an ironic twist, delegitimating versions of the history of specific religious groups – that is, invented traditions constructed by opponents – can include allegations that these groups are creating invented traditions. In chapter 6, George D. Chryssides discusses the case of the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification (FFWPU, formerly the Unification Church, and popularly known as the ‘‘Moonies’’). One of the NRMs most frequently singled out for attack by the anti-cult movement, it has among many other things been accused of misattributing its own scriptures. The FFWPU is based on revelations said to have been received by its founder, Sun Myung Moon. If a credible case could be made that the purportedly revealed publications were, in fact, works by other religious authors that had been falsely ascribed to Moon, this in the perspective of the anti-cult organizations would radically undermine the claims of the movement. SACRED HISTORY, SACRED GEOGRAPHY

Particular conceptions of the nature of the sacred past can be found in different societies, and these will influence the specific ways in which misattributions arise and spread. A contrast can, for instance, be seen between religions in the West, such as the modern movements from which the above examples have been drawn, and various other traditions. In many religions, innovations are projected back on to authority figures in that tradition’s own past. Buddhist innovations are attributed to the historical Buddha. Books of the Hebrew Bible are understood to have been written by authors – whether actually existing or entirely spurious – who in the historiography of Judaism are presented as the sages who have inspired and directed formative moments in that religion. The Western religious imagination in part continues this tradition of attributing innovations to ‘‘local’’ figures, but complements these with spurious authors from various exotic cultures. Invented traditions internal to Christianity are easily located. The Bible is studded with historically untenable references to its own legendary origins. In chapter 7, Einar Thomassen carefully documents and discusses the many cases where books of the New Testament are attributed to

8

OLAV HAMMER AND JAMES R. LEWIS

spurious authors. The canonical status of the texts was essentially dependent on the concept of succession – that is, that the ‘‘true’’ teachings had been passed on via a chain of church leaders, and that they could ultimately be traced back to persons closely associated with Jesus himself and his disciples. Of the twenty-seven writings generally included in the New Testament, in fact only seven are unanimously accepted by modern scholars as genuinely carrying the name of their original author. All others are attributed to such iconic names of emerging Christianity as Paul, John, James, and Jude. Attribution to Western sources continued through the ages. In chapter 8, Susanna A˚kerman presents one of the most influential misattributions of the early modern age, the creation at the beginning of the seventeenth century of the mythos of a secret brotherhood, the Rosicrucians. In 1614, a booklet with the title Fama Fraternitatis was published in the German city of Cassel, ostensibly by the Laudable Order of the Rosy Cross. This mysterious society claimed to be composed of pious individuals who were aiming at a ‘‘universal and general reformation of the whole wide world.’’ Soon other ‘‘Rosicrucian’’ writings began to circulate. The documents were, by many readers, believed to be authentic texts disseminated by an actually existing secret society. People with interests in esotericism and alchemy, in particular, sympathized with the message, and produced a voluminous corpus of literature, extending the ideas of the purported Rosicrucian brotherhood, and syncretizing them with their own innovative ideas. A century after the publication of the spurious Rosicrucian texts, interest in their contents and in the possibility of a religious reform led to the formation of actual groups claiming to build on a Rosicrucian heritage. Besides the prevalence of such ‘‘local’’ misattributions, religious history in Europe and America is unusual in its avid interest in non-Western, nonChristian sources. Doctrines and practices are spuriously attributed to such places as esoteric Egypt or ancient India. The practice of projecting one’s beliefs on to such exotic others is perhaps particularly prevalent in modern times. New Age practitioners will, for instance, claim, whether rightly or not, that their practices originated in places such as Japan (reiki healing), India (chakra balancing), Hawaii (certain styles of massage), Native America (sweat lodges and medicine wheels), Siberia, and other unspecified areas populated by native peoples (shamanism). The main nineteenth-century precursor of much New Age lore, the Theosophical Society, was founded by people who similarly attempted to revive ancient wisdom from India, Egypt, and the mythical continents of Atlantis and Lemuria.

Introduction

9

Although globalization is generally reckoned as a force of the (post)modern world, and the geographical scope of imaginary history may have widened, it should be stressed that exoticism of this kind is by no means an unprecedented phenomenon. The Greeks were arguably the first to display an intense curiosity about other peoples, an interest that exploded in the Hellenistic age with its wide-ranging contacts. Increasingly, the authority of exotic others was invoked to explain innovations in Hellenistic religious culture. Greek authors tended to blur the distinction between religious elements that truly were of Eastern origins and Greek Hellenistic innovations mistakenly ascribed to their neighbors. The sources indicate that astrology was brought to Greece by the Babylonian priest Berossos; they also suggest that many specific elements of Hellenistic astrological lore, claimed to be of Egyptian or Iranian derivation, were Greek and Roman creations. Later authors, from Rome via the Christian West and beyond, into the post-Christian pluralism that increasingly characterizes the West, have continued the trend. When Renaissance authors such as Ficino and Pico della Mirandola attempted to chart the genealogies of their emergent esotericism, Egypt and Iran were still invoked as the fountainhead of wisdom. Zarathustra has for more than two millennia functioned as a purported source of religious insights. In his contribution (chapter 9), Michael Stausberg recounts just some of the frequent attributions to the Iranian sage. Serving as something of a cultural icon, the name of Zoroaster (as he is regularly called in Western sources) could legitimate a wide variety of astrological and magical practices. The story of how the ‘‘Zoroastrian’’ corpus was created contains a final, ironic twist. The Zoroastrian community itself never considered Zarathustra as the author of its sacred writings. Influenced by Western conceptions of authorship and perhaps by age-old projections of literary conceits on to the semi-legendary figure, Western scholarship has colluded in creating an invented sacred tradition. Many contemporary researchers have insisted on Zarathustra as the author of the Ga¯tha¯s, the oldest parts of the Zoroastrian canon, but do so on speculative grounds. ENTERING THE TEXTUAL CORPUS

If a text which has never previously been quoted by anybody or commented on by any author is nevertheless claimed to be ancient, there need to be mechanisms by which that document can be introduced into the generally accepted corpus. In predominantly oral societies, the problem will not

10

OLAV HAMMER AND JAMES R. LEWIS

always have been acutely felt. The bulk of the sayings attributed to the prophet Muhammad and anthologized in vast collections of hadith is a case in point. According to the self-understanding of the Islamic tradition, the community of followers of the Prophet transmitted hadith orally. The Prophet was said to have opposed writing them down, as did many of the leading companions. Collections of hadith needed to be gathered from those who claimed to remember verbatim what Muhammad had said, or at least to have heard the saying from a reliable source. With only uncertain written records dating from the earliest period of hadith transmission, this procedure may have lent itself to spurious attribution. To this day, Muslim and non-Muslim scholars argue over questions of historical authenticity: is much of the material fictitious, as many Western scholars of Islam have tended to suggest, or are there good reasons to assume that these skeptical conclusions were unnecessarily negative?5 When previously undocumented texts are introduced in a culture with a strong tradition of literary documentation, historiographic narratives emerge to explain and justify the sudden appearance of new documents. The text can appear on the scene as a translation of a previously unpublished manuscript. A misattribution can easily pass unnoticed, since the document in question is new to its readers. In the High Middle Ages, the wave of translation of Aristotelian texts introduced into the canon of Western literature a number of misattributed writings. Compendia of cosmological doctrines such as the Liber de Causis, which we now know is the translation of a mid-tenth-century Arabic compilation of Neoplatonic maxims culled mainly from Proclus, were surrounded by an aura of immense prestige by being attributed to Aristotle.6 After all, when so many new works of the Stagirite were being introduced to intellectual circles in Europe, why should this specific text be regarded with particular suspicion? Even Thomas Aquinas accepted the attribution, and produced a commentary on the text. The category of the previously unpublished can, for an unsuspecting readership, be difficult to tell apart from the entirely spurious. One of the most publicized cases of a text claimed to have been translated from a previously unknown original is the Unknown Life of Jesus Christ presented by the Russian war correspondent Nicolas Notovitch (b. 1858).7 The story goes that Notovitch, during a trip on horseback through the Himalayan region, fell and broke his leg. He was brought to the Hemis monastery in 5 6

See Burton, Introduction, for a discussion of the issues involved. Fidora and Niederberger, Von Bagdad nach Toledo. 7 Beskow, Strange Tales.

Introduction

11

the province of Ladakh, in the northernmost part of India. While recovering there, the abbot of Hemis showed Notovitch a Tibetan manuscript, explaining that this was a text called The Life of Saint Issa. Notovitch realized the importance of the text and took notes. These were organized into a book that Notovitch published in 1894. Unhappily for Notovitch, the book came to the attention of one of the greatest nineteenth-century scholars of Asian religions, Max Mu¨ller, who presented a devastating critique of the text. Most damning of all, Mu¨ller could refer to a letter from a woman who had visited the monastery at Hemis, had asked the abbot about Notovitch and was informed that there was not a word of truth to his tale. Since the mythical imagination does not need the same standards of veracity as historical scholarship, invented traditions tend to have a life of their own. The suggestion that Jesus had traveled through Asia is found in a variety of contemporary religious currents, from the heterodox Islamic Ahmadiyya group, to various post-theosophical movements (such as the Church Universal and Triumphant) and neo-Hindu organizations such as ISKCON. The massive amounts of information available to audiences in the contemporary world seem to make modernity a hostile environment for invented traditions. Notovitch was ignominiously debunked; Scientology needs to vehemently deny the existence of historical data that can easily be accessed by anybody with an internet connection; few people will even have heard of Hermes Trismegistus, let alone believe in his historical veracity. One way to avoid difficulties with unsympathetic outsiders might conceivably be to deny human authorship altogether and to decline to enter into the details of historical transmission. In her chapter (10) on a modern, purportedly revealed text, The Urantia Book, Sarah Lewis shows that even this refusal to discuss how the tradition took shape has invited problems. The text of The Urantia Book was vaguely said to consist of a lengthy series of messages transmitted by a ‘‘being’’ to a ‘‘sleeping subject’’ or ‘‘contact personality,’’ and recorded under the auspices of six people collectively known as the ‘‘Contact Commission.’’ With no authorial attribution, the people who made the book public presumably attempted to avoid the risk of having the message understood by outsiders as a human construction. Unexpectedly, the refusal of the Urantia Foundation to accept any human agency in the transmission of the text led to legal problems. The Foundation was challenged about its rights to the book, on the grounds that a divine author cannot be granted copyright under United States law. Once we move beyond the modern Western world, it becomes clear that in the matter of ancient texts, a simple dichotomy between ‘‘fake’’ and

12

OLAV HAMMER AND JAMES R. LEWIS

‘‘authentic’’ may not be tenable. Highly elaborate mechanisms for introducing texts and material objects have been employed in a variety of cultural contexts. Substantial parts of the canonical scriptures of the lineage of Tibetan Buddhism were, according to the Tibetans themselves, discovered by paranormal means and retrieved from sacred sites in the surrounding landscape. According to the complex historiographic legends surrounding these documents, as described by Holly Gayley in her chapter (11), the eighth-century tantric master Padmasambhava transmitted various teachings to his disciples, with the instruction to reveal them only in the future. When a disciple is after many centuries reborn in the person of a ‘‘treasure revealer’’ or terto¨n, he or she is, through visions and past life recollections, able to unearth the scripture as a material object and to decode its meaning. The revelation of such texts has over the centuries become an important component of Tibetan Buddhism. Treasure revelation, which began in the eleventh century, continues to this day, contributing to religious revival in Tibetan areas of present-day China. Historiographic legends which suggest that previously established truths are deliberately withheld until the time is ripe help to explain one of the perhaps most characteristic aspects of invented textual traditions. Later texts attributed to well-known historical figures may display obvious discrepancies in the doctrinal contents compared to earlier documents. A striking example is Buddhism, divided into several branches with widely divergent doctrinal statements. In spite of these differences, Buddhist texts routinely claim to be based on speeches by the historical Buddha. Why should Buddha have transmitted different teachings to different audiences? Authors of the Mahayana Buddhist tradition developed a hermeneutic strategy which claims that earlier texts revealed only partial insights, as a skillful means to lead the less spiritually advanced toward liberation from the fetters of samsara.8 BELIEF AND SKEPTICISM

As we have seen, the legitimacy generated by the claim that a certain corpus of texts was compiled by ancient or venerable authors may have far-reaching implications. Several religions have an understanding of their own history that is to a considerable extent based on misattributed texts. Both the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament largely consist of books with spurious attributions, which have profoundly influenced the ways in which 8

Pye, Skilful Means.

Introduction

13

the history of Judaism and Christianity has been understood within those communities. Several of the examples in the preceding paragraph point to the power vested in invented sacred traditions to legitimate social institutions, and to mold the lives of its members through doctrines and rituals. The LDS church, founded on the premise that it constitutes the continuation of the very earliest church, consisted of merely six inaugurating members in 1830, but had by 2006 reached a figure of 11 million. The doctrinal contents of a religion may be heavily influenced by the acceptance of an invented tradition as genuine. Kevin Corrigan and Michael Harrington, in their chapter (12), show how the attribution of a set of distinctly Neoplatonic texts to the figure of Dionysius the Areopagite, mentioned in the New Testament, facilitated the incorporation of heterodox doctrines into Christian intellectual culture. Contemporary conceptions of historical-critical scholarship, our attitudes toward individual authorship, and our tendency to view authorial misattribution as merely ‘‘falsification’’ risk skewing our perceptions of invented traditions. Why, modern readers might ask, would Scientologists who seriously doubt that Hubbard really wrote the scriptural canon of their religion remain members? What could motivate Christians or Jews to remain observant, if they were to adopt a critical perspective on their texts and see them as invented traditions? Would Mormons not defect en masse if they suddenly became convinced that the Book of Mormon is a nineteenth-century religious document, and that the LDS church is not a restoration of an ancient community but an organization created from scratch by Joseph Smith and five of his co-religionists? Such drastic alternatives might, to a reader steeped in Western post-Enlightenment skepticism, seem to be the only logically available choices: either one believes, or one does not. A survey of the reactions within various religions to the realization that texts can be invented traditions reveals a quite different and much more complex picture. Culturally competent readers within various groups may react in many ways to the issue of acceptance versus skepticism. Some religions do insist that scriptures which from a historical-critical point of view are misattributed are in fact genuine products of the claimed author. Skeptical voices tend to come from outside the religious community itself. Scientology illustrates this point well: the ‘‘problem’’ of misattributed texts is apparently never discussed within the Church of Scientology itself, since nobody will envisage the possibility, raised by researchers and Scientology dissidents alike, that Hubbard cannot have

14

OLAV HAMMER AND JAMES R. LEWIS

written all the books that are attributed to him. Skepticism is, for some groups and some religions, merely destructive. A range of Christian denominations will insist that at least some crucial parts of the scriptural transmission have proceeded exactly as described in the official version. The traditional Christian perspective of an unbroken tradition with the church as its caretaker has repeatedly had to face outside skeptical voices. The Pseudo-Dionysian corpus was immensely influential throughout the Middle Ages precisely because it was perceived as ‘‘genuine.’’ As long as authorship was seen as authentic, Dionysius’ works were used by either side in the many theological debates between various early Christian denominations. His fictitious identity was first seriously questioned in the fifteenth and early sixteenth-century by humanists such as Lorenzo Valla and John Grocyn. When in the sixteenth century the pseudonymous character of the Dionysian writings began to be widely known, much of the previous interest in the corpus vanished. Whereas discussions regarding the historical authenticity of ‘‘Dionysius’ ’’ works were for all practical purposes settled centuries ago, the historical nature of other corpora of texts has only in recent times begun to generate debate. In his chapter (13) on spurious attribution in the Hebrew Bible, Philip R. Davies discusses the ascription of authorship of particular biblical texts to ancient Israelite sages and prophets. Concepts of individual authorship were foreign to early Israelite religion, but became important in Hellenistic times. Whereas older texts tend to be anonymous, pseudepigraphy is a prominent feature in Hellenistic Judaism, and a host of legends about the writing, copying, transmission, and translation of particular texts developed. Nonetheless, for culturally competent ancient readers the question of ‘‘false’’ versus ‘‘genuine’’ was simply not an issue. Modern audiences, however, operate on a quite different set of assumptions. The suggestion by an increasing number of scholars in recent decades, that many authorial attributions belong to the realm of legend, and that the Hebrew Bible should be read as a set of literary documents rather than historical records, has proved to be extremely contentious. As Davies argues, in other areas of ancient history such issues would only generate academic interest. However, so much has been invested in the historical ‘‘authenticity’’ of the Hebrew Bible that skeptical historiographers are unavoidably drawn into fierce arguments, with far-reaching ideological and political implications. Many traditions have, however, to varying degrees allowed or even fostered skepticism within its own ranks. The insight that traditions can be made up has led not only to the historical-critical consciousness of

Introduction

15

modern academia, but also to the creation of other, religiously informed critical methods. In Islamic circles, for instance, the realization that hadith traditions could potentially be forged led to the creation of an entire branch of legal study, an ‘‘emic textual criticism’’ which argues for the authenticity or lack thereof of any given hadith based largely on the personal characteristics of the people reported to have transmitted the particular quote from the Prophet.9 Other traditions may have developed a variety of other means to react to allegations of misattribution. Liberal Christianity and Reform Judaism are characteristically ‘‘post-critical,’’ in that they accept the role of human agency in the formation of their traditions. Christians of the most liberal denominations may accept that it can be impossible to distinguish textually authentic layers in scripture, but may suggest that questions of authorial ascription pale into insignificance when compared to the existential impact of the texts. Similarly, practitioners of various contemporary methods of complementary and alternative medicine may on the one hand reproduce historiographic narratives suggesting, for example, that reiki has traditional Japanese roots and that reflexology was developed in ancient Egypt, but will on the other insist that historical background is irrelevant as long as the healing practices work. Yet other religious traditions in the contemporary West have constructed even more emphatic ways of questioning authenticity and playfully accepting that one’s own religion is a patchwork of human creativity. Graham Harvey, in his chapter (14) on the invention of tradition among various branches of modern Pagans, notes that the realization that much of their historical background consists of deliberate inventions has not prevented these movements from thriving. Some Pagans can identify themselves as Druids or as followers of old Nordic religion of Asatru. Outside observers may react with skepticism to the idea that an ancient religion could be revived many centuries after it was last practiced. Pagans, however, are usually fully aware of the gulf separating the past from the present, to the point of readily accepting that they are not recreating but inventing a tradition. Most remarkably, one Pagan organization, the Reformed Druids of North America (RDNA), was created in 1963 by a group of students in order to test a rule at their college that they must all attend church services. Fully aware that they have made up a religion in order to satisfy this requirement, many nonetheless continue to find their invented rituals to be emotionally rewarding. 9

Burton, Introduction.

16

OLAV HAMMER AND JAMES R. LEWIS CONCLUSIONS

The Invention of Sacred Tradition is – to the best of our knowledge – the first book to cover the topic of invented sacred traditions from a crosscultural perspective. In its fourteen chapters, only a few examples from a much vaster range can be covered. Although representing a mix of old and new, Western and non-Western traditions, we are aware that a different selection would probably have allowed us to document a somewhat different set of hermeneutic mechanisms.10 The modes of misattribution found in other religions may thus expand the spectrum that readers will encounter in the present volume. The authority invoked when the past is invented also comes in many shapes, and serves to fuel a more diverse range of attitudes to the past than can be documented here. In religiously repressive societies, authors may have found it a safer course to hide behind the name of another person than to risk charges of heresy. Some religious currents may consider all later elaborations to be mere variations on the founder’s doctrines, and therefore consider it hubris to write under one’s own name. The very ubiquity and persistence of invented traditions should alert us to the fact that they may serve a host of purposes. Similarly, skepticism and belief can interact in ways that go beyond the examples found here. Not least, the spreading impact of historical-critical awareness on the one hand and often heavily politicized religious sensibilities on the other is sure to make this particular aspect of invented sacred traditions a sensitive issue. Although our volume concentrates almost exclusively on misattributed religious texts, it is quite obvious that other elements of religious life can be presented with a narrative of spurious origins. Rituals can have been created by people other than believers suppose; material artifacts can have a historical origin quite unlike the one accepted by members of the religious community. In many ways, the present volume is an invitation to pursue these and a host of other questions regarding the invention of sacred traditions. From the early records of Israelite or Zoroastrian religion to the presentday Scientologists and Pagans, the invention of sacred traditions is thus a persistent and ubiquitous phenomenon. In our experience, nevertheless, 10

It should perhaps be mentioned that a remaining statistical imbalance in favor of new movements over older, and Western traditions over non-Western, is largely the result of chance, and not least a question of which authors responded to our call for papers and ultimately delivered a contribution.

Introduction

17

new religions tend to be viewed with greater suspicion than their older counterparts, as if new movements and their historiographic legends were somehow essentially different. We have wished to counteract this tendency by not giving in to the temptation of separating out the old from the new, and of thereby letting the order of the chapters reflect pre-theoretical biases against novel religions. The individual contributions will be found in the same arrangement in which they are mentioned in the present introduction. The provocative juxtapositions achieved by this editorial decision are fully intentional. REFERENCES

Berman, Marshall, All That Is Solid Melts into Air: The Experience of Modernity (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1982). Beskow, Per, Strange Tales about Jesus: A Survey of Unfamiliar Gospels (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1983). Burton, John, An Introduction to the Hadith (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1994). Faivre, Antoine, ‘‘Hermes Trismegistus III: Modernity,’’ in Hanegraaff, Dictionary of Gnosis and Western Esotericism, I , pp. 483–6. Fidora, Alexander, and Andreas Niederberger, Von Bagdad nach Toledo: das ‘‘Buch der Ursachen’’ und seine Rezeption im Mittelalter (Mainz: Dieterich’sche Verlagsbuchhandlung, 2001). Hanegraaff, Wouter J. (ed.), Dictionary of Gnosis and Western Esotericism (Leiden: Brill, 2005). Hobsbawm, Eric, and Terence Ranger, The Invention of Tradition (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983). Lucentini, Paolo, ‘‘Hermes Trismegistus II: Middle Ages,’’ in Hanegraaff, Dictionary of Gnosis and Western Esotericism, I , pp. 479–83. Marx, Karl, and Friedrich Engels, The Communist Manifesto (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 2006. 1st German edn. 1848). Pye, Michael, Skilful Means: A Concept in Mahayana Buddhism (London and New York: Routledge, 2003). Shils, Edward, Tradition (London and Boston, MA: Faber & Faber, 1981). Thomas Aquinas, Commentary on the Book of Causes (Washington, DC: Catholic University of America Press, 1996). Trevor-Roper, Hugh, ‘‘The Invention of Tradition: The Highland Tradition of Scotland,’’ in Hobsbawm and Ranger, The Invention of Tradition, pp. 14–42. van den Broek, Roelof, ‘‘Hermes Trismegistus I: Antiquity,’’ in Hanegraaff, Dictionary of Gnosis and Western Esotericism, I , pp. 474–8.

CHAPTER

1

Scientology, scripture, and sacred tradition Mikael Rothstein

INTRODUCTION: EMIC AND ETIC?

Ever since the foundation of the Church of Scientology (or simply Scientology) in 1954, the honesty and credibility of that organization have been questioned. A remarkable spectrum of allegations has been invoked, and Scientology has developed a strategy of defense and counter-strike. One dimension in that strategy has been to call upon the scholarly community in order to obtain objective assessments. Above everything else, Scientology wishes to be recognized as a genuine or ‘‘bona fide’’ religion. Sometimes, however, the ideological criticism of the anti-cultists coincides with the academic, analytical criticism put forth by the historian of religions. This is, for instance, the case with Scientology’s sacred texts: anti-cultists and scholars will agree that the emic evaluation of the texts is historically incorrect. Scientology will always and without hesitation insist that the texts are written by the founder of the religion, L. Ron Hubbard (see below), and that no alterations have been made over the years. This, however, is questionable to say the least. To the anti-cultists and hostile former members of the religion, Scientology’s claim is a proof of the organization’s malignant nature. To the historian of religions, who understands that religious texts are produced and altered in complicated cultural processes, the fact that Scientology does the very same thing as all other traditions with a textual corpus is not particularly alarming. Creating myths about sacred texts – and distancing oneself from simple historical facts – is typical in many religious contexts, so why not suspect the same in Scientology? Religious texts all have a history, and religious beliefs about the texts may well differ from historical facts about them. What is factually untrue may, without difficulty, be considered an ontologically acceptable truth, and thus a social fact, by people in specific religious contexts. In people’s religious imaginations, truths and ‘‘facts’’ are not always the same. 18

Scientology, scripture, and sacred tradition

19

While religious people are perfectly entitled to perceive such texts as divine revelation or the result of supernatural agency, the obligation of the scholar of religion is to study the texts in the same way as any other product of human activity. How are religious texts constructed, how are they produced and reproduced, what ideological or political ambitions do they entail, and how do they change with time? This conflict between emic and etic approaches to the same issues is unavoidable. The historian of religions is a student of human beings in their capacity as religion-makers, and, as religious interests are sometimes pursued through manipulation and deceit, these aspects also become a subject for the academic study of religion. In the following pages I shall discuss issues of that kind with regard to Scientology’s sacred texts. In doing so I will point to the fact that texts are not only preserved and reproduced but also altered and adapted to new situations, that supposedly original texts may be quite new, and that Scientology’s textual tradition is malleable and therefore not as fixed and unchangeable as the organization would claim. What I wish to propose is that the myth constructed around the texts is much more important than any objective reality, and that tradition is invented and shaped according to strategic needs. This, of course, also applies to other aspects of the formation of religious traditions, but this chapter will discuss only religious texts. HAGIOGRAPHY AND TEXTS

The sacred texts of Scientology cannot be seen as detached from the founder of Scientology, Lafayette Ron Hubbard (1911–86). According to the official doctrine of Scientology, Hubbard is the sole author or narrator of each and every one of the religion’s sacred books; indeed, he is considered to be the single orchestrating genius behind everything Scientological. In fact everything Hubbard ever wrote or said in the context of Scientology is by definition ‘‘scripture.’’ Historian of religions Dorthe Refslund Christensen, of the University of Aarhus, has studied in great detail the hagiographical narratives regarding Hubbard as found among devoted Scientologists.1 After a meticulous survey of the available data, she concludes that the narrative about Hubbard becomes meaningful only if it is perceived as a legend or a myth, simply because the historiography upon which it builds is unable to support any 1

Refslund Christensen, ‘‘Inventing L. Ron Hubbard.’’

20

MIKAEL ROTHSTEIN

other reading. For Christensen, the discursive and ritual transformation of the person L. Ron Hubbard into the institution L. Ron Hubbard, and the general process of charismatization, remain the real phenomenon. The fact that his life is mythologized is as obvious as in the cases of Jesus, Muhammad or Siddhartha Gotama. This is how religion works. Scientology, however, rejects this analysis altogether, and goes to great lengths to defend every detail of Hubbard’s amazing and fantastic life as plain historical fact. To the external observer, it is immediately clear that the narrative about Hubbard resists any mundane verification, but in Scientology his marvels are taken for granted. This should not come as a surprise. Scientology can to all intents and purposes be characterized as a movement focused on the figure of Hubbard. It is perfectly possible to evaluate the sacred texts of Scientology in the same manner that one understands Hubbard himself. This is not only because they are intimately linked with Hubbard, but also because they have been subjected to a similar kind of reorganized reality. The sacred texts are not simply expressions made by the sacred person. They are, in a way, manifestations of that person, and important components in the emergent religion’s formation of a sacred tradition. Without Hubbard there would be no texts, and without texts there would be no Scientology. In Scientology, the construction of Hubbard as a religious ideal implies the construction of Scientology’s texts as humanity’s most important treasure – and vice versa. The construction of religious tradition in Scientology, consequently, rests on two components: Hubbard as an individual, and texts claimed to be written by Hubbard, and in many ways the two become one. Hubbard’s portrait, which is by far Scientology’s most treasured and widely used icon, refers symbolically to his message, and the message is always linked to its source. In other words, Scientology’s scriptures provide an almost prototypical example of how the charisma of a religious leader may be routinized, to use Weber’s terminology, and transferred to another medium after his death. While the intellectual contents of the texts (and the rituals that may relate to them) remain important, the source of the texts is probably even more essential. Rather than seeing the texts as Hubbard’s theoretical contribution to the salvation of mankind, I would prefer to see them as expansions or representations of the person of the dead leader, as an embodiment of the greatest man who has ever lived. In caring about the books, those who participate in the process of shaping Scientology not only preserve the intellectual legacy of Hubbard, but also create the cult that presents him as the saviour of mankind. In essence, reverence for Scientology’s scripture is

Scientology, scripture, and sacred tradition

21

reverence for Hubbard, the man who in the Scientological perspective single-handedly brought salvation to all human beings. SCIENTOLOGY’S SACRED SCRIPTURE

On one of Scientology’s official websites the scriptures of the religion are defined in this way: The Scientology religion is based exclusively upon L. Ron Hubbard’s research, writings and recorded lectures – all of which constitute the Scriptures of the religion. These encompass more than 500,000 pages of writings, nearly 3,000 recorded lectures and more than 100 films.2

On another official Scientology website the following publications are mentioned under the headline ‘‘Books by L. Ron Hubbard on Scientology.’’ Note that one title comes in twelve very large volumes, and another in eighteen – and that every page in this bulk of writings is considered canonized material. All in all these texts comprise sixty-six rather large volumes: Advanced Procedure and Axioms All About Radiation Art Assists Processing Handbook The Book of Case Remedies The Book of E-Meter Drills Child Dianetics Clear Body, Clear Mind: The Effective Purification Program The Creation of Human Ability Dianetics 55! Dianetics: The Evolution of a Science Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health The Dynamics of Life E-Meter Essentials Group Auditor’s Handbook Handbook for Preclears Have You Lived Before This Life? How to Live Though an Executive Introducing the E-Meter Introduction to Scientology Ethics 2

(accessed January 4, 2006).

22

MIKAEL ROTHSTEIN

Introductory and Demonstration Processes Handbook Knowingness Notes on the Lectures of L. Ron Hubbard The Organization Executive Course and Management Series (12 volumes) The Problems of Work Purification: An Illustrated Answer to Drugs Research and Discovery Series Science of Survival Scientology 0–8: The Book of Basics Scientology 8–80 Scientology 8–8008 Scientology: A History of Man Scientology: A New Slant on Life Scientology: The Fundamentals of Thought Self-Analysis The Technical Bulletins of Dianetics and Scientology (18 volumes) Understanding Understanding the E-Meter 3 The earliest of L. Ron Hubbard’s books included in Scientology’s vast canon is Dianetics, published in 1951. If we assume the author spent one year writing it (and thus begin counting his production from the year before the book was published), and that he was actively writing until his death in 1986, Hubbard must have produced no fewer than thirty-nine pages a day on average. At the same time, Scientology informs us, he was an extremely prolific lecturer and film-maker. If we assume that Hubbard was unable to write while he was lecturing or filming, he must have been even more productive during the days he devoted to writing. It is implicitly postulated that Hubbard was able to produce fifty, sixty, seventy or more outstanding and extraordinary pages on Scientology every day he sat at his desk. But there is more, much more: Hubbard was also a prolific science fiction writer, and his many novels have to be included in the total calculation even if a sizeable portion of this work was published prior to his career as a religious leader. Furthermore, Hubbard is presented as the master of a multitude of disciplines, and numerous publications issued by Scientology after his death tell of his extraordinary exploits as a photographer, composer, therapist, scientist, explorer, navigator, philosopher, poet, artist, humanitarian, adventurer, soldier, scout, musician and various 3

(accessed January 5, 2006).

Scientology, scripture, and sacred tradition

23

other things.4 In short, Hubbard, it is claimed, did the impossible – like most mythologized religious leaders. However, such an exercise in arithmetic is not the most fruitful way of approaching the issue of Hubbard’s textual production. The crucial thing to observe is that Hubbard, from a doctrinal point of view, was capable of producing the canonical writings that have presented the soteriological path for his adherents. In order to comprehend Scientology’s concept of scripture, we have to remain within the mythological universe postulated by that organization. In many cases, however, the mythological claim that Hubbard is the actual author of all the volumes is not questioned at all, even in academic discussions. The late Lonnie D. Kliever, professor in religious studies at the Southern Methodist University, for instance, has made a lengthy statement in order to support Scientology’s claim of being a religion. He says: Like all religions, Scientology affirms a distinctive body of religious beliefs. Individual Scientologists assimilate these beliefs through extensive individual and group study of the philosophical, technical, ethical and creedal writings of L. Ron Hubbard. Indeed, these writings provide the authoritative source for Scientology’s religious beliefs. Thus, Mr. Hubbard’s writings function as sacred scripture, carrying the same authoritative force for Scientology as does The Bible for Christians, The Torah for Jews, the Qur’an for Muslims, the Book of Mormons [sic] for the Church of Latter Day Saints, or Science and Health with Keys [sic] to the Scriptures for the Church of Christian Science. As such, Mr. Hubbard is regarded as the ‘‘Founder’’ of Scientology in a similar way that Mohammed is held as the Founder of Islam or Joseph Smith is regarded as the Founder of Mormonism.5

One cannot disagree with Kliever in his conclusions, but the implicit historiography in his statement has to be questioned. In general – for simple rational reasons – we have to hypothesize that at least some of Scientology’s sacred texts have been composed and revised by individuals other than Hubbard himself. This hypothesis allows us to shift our focus away from the legend of the nearly superhuman Hubbard, and thus to survey more clearly the actual social and historical forces that brought the corpus of canonical texts into existence. This change of perspective does not present Scientology in less religious terms. On the contrary, it shows that Scientology operates in the 4

5

On the internet, some of the hagiographic Hubbard material is available on (accessed January 4, 2006). Kliever’s statement is available on the website of one of Scientology’s more prominent spokespersons, Leisa Goodmann: (accessed January 4, 2006).

24

MIKAEL ROTHSTEIN

same ways as most other religions. What Kliever’s approach fails to elucidate are the complex processes of religious creativity from which the texts emerge. There is more to the texts than just their overt contents. Kliever, now focusing on Hubbard, continues as follows: He is the only source of the religion, and he has no successor. A fundamental doctrine of the Scientology religion is that spiritual freedom can be attained only if the path outlined in these works is followed without deviation, for it is an intensively researched and workable route.6

To be ‘‘on source,’’ in Scientology’s internal lingo, means to be in accordance with the doctrines attributed to Hubbard (who simply is ‘‘source’’), and anything that fails to be ‘‘on source’’ is by definition unacceptable. What is and what is not ‘‘on source’’ is, of course, determined by the theological decisions of top Scientology officials, primarily those affiliated with the Religious Technology Centre (RTC), which is the prime theological agency of the entire organization. The implication of RTC’s statements is, however, that no such decisions are made. The only function of the agency is to maintain Hubbard’s exact words and pass them on. The authority of RTC, of course, is, as in so many other cases, based on an institutionalization of the religious leader’s authority. However, the routinization of Hubbard’s charisma (to speak in Weberian terms again) was taken to new heights in Scientology: Hubbard was turned into a legal trade mark after his death. The names ‘‘L. Ron Hubbard,’’ ‘‘LRH,’’ and ‘‘Ron,’’ as well as his instantly recognizable signature, are the legal possessions of RTC and the officially registered trademarks of the religion. RTC was established to preserve Hubbard’s legacy intact, and therefore RTC is in charge of all doctrinal Scientology publications. On RTC’s website one reads the following statement, which appears to have been first posted in 2004: To ensure the purity of the religion and its Scriptures, RTC supervised a massive five-year project, only recently completed, to republish all of Mr. Hubbard’s writings on Dianetics and Scientology. RTC ensured that the authenticity of each work was verified by comparing them word by word with his original manuscripts – only once RTC was satisfied that the works were accurate were they republished. RTC then helped see that archival editions of these materials were produced, thus ensuring the availability of the pure unadulterated writings of Mr. Hubbard to the coming generations. As part of this project, Mr. Hubbard’s original tape-recorded lectures – most of them over three decades old – were restored using state-of-the-art technology, and then accurately transcribed. Even 6

(accessed January 4, 2006).

Scientology, scripture, and sacred tradition

25

the translations of the Scripture are scrupulously checked for accuracy by RTC prior to any publication.7

The top executive of RTC, David Miscavige, who is the prime guardian of Hubbard’s religious legacy, is introduced in the following terms: Mr. Miscavige has worked relentlessly to guarantee the authenticity and purity of Mr. Hubbard’s technologies by ensuring that all of Mr. Hubbard’s writings are verified, word for word, against original manuscripts and recordings.8

Scientology’s top theologian, consequently, earns his favors by maintaining and reproducing Hubbard’s texts, not by contributing anything himself. No innovations, no clarification, no changes of any kind are acceptable when dealing with the teachings and ‘‘technology’’ of Scientology; that is, the texts and the ritual-therapeutic procedures described in them. The key phrase is ‘‘purity of the religion.’’ Hubbard, a savior and a saint, has offered mankind a path to salvation, and after his departure from this world his legacy was entrusted to an organization especially designed for that purpose.9 The task of maintaining the texts is performed with extraordinary zeal, involving activities known to few outside the movement. Scientology has, for instance, constructed an underground base in a remote spot on the outskirts of the town of Trementina, New Mexico. In deep vaults, hidden behind fences and protected by armed guards, beneath a luxury mansion, copies of Hubbard’s texts are kept in order to preserve them for all time. The texts, meticulously cared for by the Church of Spiritual Technology (CST), another Scientology department (formerly known as ‘‘The L. Ron Hubbard Library’’), have been transferred to special paper and platinum plates, and are stored in carefully designed titanium boxes with advanced lock systems.10 A gigantic version of CST’s symbol has been bulldozed into the ground (and is clearly visible on Google’s satellite photos on the internet) and rumor has it that the marking is supposed to guide visitors from space to Hubbard’s treasure at some time in the future, perhaps after a nuclear holocaust on Earth. The compound has been the subject of some

7 8 9

10

(accessed June 5, 2006). . For an analysis of another case where religious leadership and the authority of sacred texts are of crucial importance, see Mikael Rothstein, ‘‘Hagiography and Text in the Aetherius Society.’’ CRT has, like most Scientology agencies, been the subject of controversy. A critical assessment is found on . Former members claim that CRT obtained all copyrights over Hubbard’s texts only through manipulation and secrecy.

26

MIKAEL ROTHSTEIN

controversy, and even its very existence has been questioned. It is, however, well documented by local reporters.11 The underground compound stands as a symbol of the timelessness of Hubbard’s texts and as a three-dimensional manifestation of Scientology’s official proclamations regarding the ‘‘purity of Hubbard’s legacy.’’ From one perspective the building represents a step into the future: the texts are preserved for a long time to come. From another, the conservation of everything ‘‘Hubbard’’ puts an end to history, by emphasizing that nothing more can be said or understood. From the perspective of Scientology we live, in principle, in the epistemological end times. Whatever good may happen in the future will have Hubbard’s achievements as its immediate foundation. DISCLOSURE AND POLEMICS

Critics of Scientology include not only the usual anti-cultists, but also, and more interestingly, people who consider Hubbard’s texts more important than Scientology, people who have defected because they felt that Hubbard’s legacy was being misrepresented by the organisation. Instead they are involved in groups and organisational networks such as Freezone12 and Ron’s Org.13 These individuals can refer to Scientology’s revision of history, what I have termed Scientology’s revised reality, as the main problem with the organization. In a 2003 open letter advising people how to communicate with Scientologists, former member Michael Leonard Tils says: ‘‘Find out what they think about Hubbard’s writings being revised over 15 years after his death. Does it make sense to them?’’14 Although their existence will be fiercely denied by Scientology officials, such revisions can in fact be documented, and are even defended in Scientology documents. There are at least six examples of internal ‘‘policies’’ that are being applied to legitimate editorial changes, amendments, omissions, and alterations in relation to Hubbard’s original texts, whether in print or on tape. The oldest policy dates from as far back as 1959; the most recent is from 1973. This means that even the latest of these policy documents applied well before Hubbard’s death. Former members of Scientology explain that these brief statements form what might be called 11

12 13 14

. A good overview is found on (August 2006). . See, for instance, the website of the Dutch branch at . Made available through (accessed January 11, 2006).

Scientology, scripture, and sacred tradition

27

the doctrinal justification for textual changes. They are referred to as the reason why changes can in fact be made. Only one of these texts is formulated in a straightforward manner. It dates back to March 4, 1965, and is, according to former high-ranking Scientologists with whom I have spoken,15 written by Hubbard himself. The second paragraph (in a text entitled: ‘‘From HCO 4 March 1965RA, Issue II, TECHNICAL AND POLICY DISTRIBUTION’’) partly reads: ‘‘When re-releasing an old policy letter, always blue pencil out everything gone old and contradicted by later policy letters. You can still salvage a lot that still applies – a surprising amount. But try to cut out the contradictions with our modern policy where they exist.’’ It is interesting to observe that the text deals only with technical issues, not with the substance of doctrinal matters. However, this seems to be the closest the texts get to explicitly allowing alterations in Scientology materials. In another text (‘‘From HCO PL 30 July 1973, SCIENTOLOGY, CURRENT STATE OF THE SUBJECT AND MATERIALS’’), Hubbard (apparently) addresses the issue of transcribing tape recordings. One sentence reads: ‘‘There is undoubtedly a considerable amount of neating up that I could do, including making all materials more readily available.’’ By this, the text continues, Hubbard means ‘‘developing a dictionary of terms,’’ but also ‘‘filling in incidental gaps where material may not have been fully recorded.’’ Clearly, the text talks about clarifying the meaning of what is being said on the tapes, but appears, taken together with the previous quotation, to permit creative interpretations that allow those who are in charge to handle the texts more freely, in order to achieve the perceived goals of Scientology. Authority, therefore, does not restrict itself to the texts, but is primarily in the hands of those who control the texts, in effect RTC. To those of Scientology’s critics who are ‘‘dissenters’’ because they revere Hubbard and deny the legitimacy of Scientology as an organization, these ‘‘policies’’ cannot justify textual alterations. There are many examples of critical surveys of Hubbard’s texts by such dissenters. One of these is found on a site maintained by the organization VERITAS, which seeks to protect Hubbard’s work against Scientology. After a brief statement about ‘‘textual fraud,’’ an example is given in which the 1965 and 1997 versions of the book Scientology: A New Slant on Life are compared. The cover of the 1965 version presents Hubbard as the author, whereas in the 1997 publication his name is gone and a number of changes,

15

My informants remain anonymous, at their request.

28

MIKAEL ROTHSTEIN

sometimes insignificant but at other times more important, have been made. VERITAS explains: VERSION ONE is the version originally authored by L. Ron Hubbard. It says right on the cover, ‘‘by L. Ron Hubbard.’’ It was copyrighted in 1965 by L. Ron Hubbard. He is listed with the Library of Congress as the author. VERSION TWO is a version first copyrighted in 1988 – two years after L. Ron Hubbard died. The Library of Congress shows L. Ron Hubbard’s name as part of the TITLE; the author that is listed (for New Matter) is NOT L. Ron Hubbard – it is ‘‘Church of Scientology International.’’16

A sample of VERITAS’s analysis can illustrate some of the changes. The two versions are simply presented side by side, paragraph by paragraph, with additions or omissions marked in color. The older version has, for instance, this formulation (there are many others – this is a random sample): ‘‘Actually a little child derives all of his ‘how’ of life from the grace he puts upon life,’’ while the more recent version reads: ‘‘Actually, a little child derives all of his pleasure in life from the grace he puts upon life.’’ This alteration certainly changes the feel of the text, but it may be hard to judge how substantial this change of phraseology really is. However, one has to tread cautiously here. Very small changes in religious texts have been known to cause immense conflict. It is easier to understand the significance of the more comprehensive changes. VERITAS continues: Not only are there subtle contextual changes in the book, there are eight (8) chapters that were in the original edition which have been completely expunged from the current edition. But there are 12 new chapters that were not in the original book. Could some or all of these be the ‘‘some text’’ that is referred to in the Library of Congress abstract? . . . Despite these changes, there is no mention anywhere on the outside packaging, or in any of the advertising, that would alert a potential buyer of the book.

The contentious issue in this connection is not the new meaning of the text, but the very fact that changes have been made, despite persistent Scientology denials. We furthermore learn that changes in this particular book apparently fit a pattern. Scientology’s opponents in VERITAS say: And it may be far bigger than just this one book. ‘‘New Slant on Life’’ is just one amongst at least 913 titles in Library of Congress records with the author listed as ‘‘Church of Scientology International, employer for hire.’’ The ‘‘new matter’’ for many of those works includes writing, editing, and compilation, strongly suggesting that they each have been changed in some way from the original works. You 16

(accessed January 11, 2006).

Scientology, scripture, and sacred tradition

29

may be surprised at some of the titles on that list (including the venerable ‘‘Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health’’), so we selected a few samples from the Library of Congress records [here a link is provided] and put them here on the site.17

The owner of the copyrights for all these ‘‘other’’ works, so we are informed, is the Church of Spiritual Technology (CST), here presenting itself as the ‘‘L. Ron Hubbard Library.’’ VERITAS concludes: So they not only own all the original L. Ron Hubbard copyrights, they also own all the ‘‘new’’ versions, the ‘‘look-alike’’ versions – authored or co-authored by others, but being sold carrying the name of L. Ron Hubbard. Few people have ever known anything about this ‘‘L. Ron Hubbard Library.’’18

Much more can be traced on the internet.19 FACTS,

‘‘ T R U T H ’’

AND MYTHOLOGICAL CONSTRUCTIONS

In order to understand how Scientology is currently being constructed as a religious tradition, it is necessary to acknowledge that the mythical rendering of time and history is much more important than ‘‘history’’ in the everyday (secular) sense of the word. Here I have to emphasize that ‘‘mythical formations’’ are different from ‘‘lies.’’ Both categories refer to things ‘‘untrue’’ in the strict sense of the word, but their very dissimilar contexts create a significant difference. It is not a fact that Jesus walked on water, but it is not a lie when Christians claim that he did. In the same way, I would argue, is it not a fact that Hubbard wrote everything published by Scientology, but neither is it a lie when Scientology claims that he did. Things that are not factual may easily be appreciated as true in religious contexts. This, in a sense, is what religion is all about. The anti-cultist answer to this way of seeing things is well known. Their argument is that Scientology (or RTC and CST more specifically) are lying 17 18

19

. . From this point on VERITAS speculates who the actual copyright holders might be, and it is suggested that Hubbard’s work is in fact owned and controlled by people with financial, not religious, interests – people who are not even Scientologists. I am not in a position to judge this question, partly because the argument rests on legal issues, and partly because of the difficulty in ruling out conspiracy theories. See (accessed August 2006). For a comprehensive sample, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Altered_texts_in_Scientology_doctrine>. Wikipedia is written in an open public domain and therefore has to be evaluated carefully. The entries on Scientology are probably written or inspired by Danish anti-cultists (language errors seem to indicate this). However, the references seem to be valid. See also former Scientologist Robert Dam’s homepage: .

30

MIKAEL ROTHSTEIN

deliberately and they know it. When Jesus’ miracles are proclaimed in a Christian church, however, the same critics may perceive this as an expression of the believers’ faith – disregarding what they may think of the reality behind the claim. The real difference, however, lies elsewhere, namely in the possibility of investigating the claims. The rejection of Jesus’ miracles will always be circumstantial, since there are no sources to investigate. The question of Hubbard’s personal authorship lends itself to a much more concrete inspection: it is certainly possible to check whether Hubbard has been aided by ghost-writers, and if his texts have been edited or altered since his death. All the evidence is in the sources. Various anti-cult groups have referred to Scientology documents that seem to indicate that lying is taught to church officials as an acceptable strategy.20 It is correct that Hubbard apparently saw lying as a precondition for power,21 but in context this is something he warns about and takes precautions against, rather than encourages. However, it would be naive to expect individual Scientologists and Scientology as an organization to abstain from lying, even if they affirm the contrary (why should they be different from any other social group?). In that sense Scientology’s opponents may be quite right. What they tend to forget is that Scientology’s strategy arises from a religious necessity, since any authoritative sacred text needs some form of mythological justification in order to render it plausible. No text will be considered sacred unless it is clouded in mystery or accompanied by a narrative providing it with an extraordinary origin. In fact, what makes a text sacred is almost by definition what is said about it, not what it says itself. This is why every authoritative religious text will be accompanied by some kind of legitimating myth, a story which backs up the claims of the sacred text, but which has no obligation to respect ‘‘facts.’’ In the case of Scientology, we can identify a number of reasons why the construction of sacred tradition takes place in the way it does. The basic soteriological structure of the Scientology religion is this: Hubbard, unaided, and the first person in human history to do so, reached all the necessary insights needed to penetrate into the deepest secrets of the cosmos. He made himself a unique individual in the history of humankind, 20 21

See for instance (accessed June 5, 2006) See , which shows an exhibit from a court case: US District Court, Central District of California, Fishman Case # 91-6426 HLH (Tx) Continued (Exhibit B).

Scientology, scripture, and sacred tradition

31

and remains unparalleled in virtually all walks of life. The status of Scientology’s scripture depends on the myths told about L. Ron Hubbard, and because Hubbard is a historical figure, the boundaries between the mythical origin of the texts and their later history dissolve in Scientological narratives. Myth is, so to say, encompassed in history, and no distinction between the two is attempted in Scientology’s way of seeing things. Neither are the differences between the origin and the transmission of the texts considered. According to Scientology, Hubbard is ‘‘source,’’ and Scientology is the guardian of ‘‘source.’’ On this basis Scientology creates a double time frame. On the one hand it has great ambitions of moving ahead: with a characteristically selfaggrandizing touch, Scientology claims to be the fastest-growing religion in the world. The future is supposed to see the world turn Scientological. At the same time, however, Scientology is firmly rooted in the past, claiming that no dogmatic or ideological change is possible. In other words, the world will be changed on the basis of unchanging knowledge, the teachings of L. Ron Hubbard. In one respect history is seen as open and dynamic. In another it is closed, because human understanding, embodied in Hubbard, has reached its apex. While the organization must move on, Hubbard’s ideology and thoughts are final, in fact signifying that human intellectual history has come to an end. From this point on we may go in any direction, depending on how we make use of Hubbard’s legacy, but there is no more to learn. Hubbard understood it all. This explains why Scientology’s various branches continue to fuel the veneration surrounding Hubbard. Scientology’s proclaimed intention to create a global revolution of the human mind, to ‘‘Clear the Planet,’’ that is to help every individual to a certain state of religious consciousness, is in fact Hubbard’s plan. The organization is, in a way, his ‘‘body’’ much in the same way as the Christian church is identified as the ‘‘body of Christ.’’ Finally, as we have seen, the sacred texts of Scientology are also an institutionalization of everything ‘‘Hubbard.’’ This taken into consideration, the salvation of humankind (or the single individual) depends on direct access to Hubbard’s legacy as it incarnates in Scientology’s organizations and the texts through which he is routinized. The religious tradition that has emerged over the years has to fulfill two different purposes: it has to provide the means for salvation (ritual therapy, intellectual education, etc.), and at the same time encourage the adoration of Hubbard. This, I would propose, is best done by unconditionally insisting that the entire bulk of sacred writings was indeed produced by the soteriological agent himself, Hubbard. And this is exactly what Scientology does.

32

MIKAEL ROTHSTEIN FLEXIBILITY, CHANGE AND ENDURANCE

Sociologist Wilbert E. Moore remarks that ‘‘any enduring system must have some degree of flexibility which in turn at least provides, if not encourages, innovation.’’22 Perhaps it is too early to call Scientology’s cosmology an ‘‘enduring system.’’ It may, after all, be too young for that designation, but if we predict that it will live on for some time to come, and if we follow Wilbert E. Moore’s predictions, it will survive only because it is able to change (either by revising old texts or by inventing new ones). However, since change means going against existing dogma, changes have to take place in ways that – officially – do not contradict dogma. Specifically, this means that new publications produced by Scientology (in effect by RTC and CST) by definition have to be attributed to L. Ron Hubbard. The organization will, on the one hand, be unable to escape the need for change, development, and interpretation. At the same time, however, there is no obvious way for Scientology to renounce Hubbard as the sole ‘‘source,’’ the only author of Scientology’s texts. As long as this stands, Hubbard will probably remain a prolific post-mortem writer. The question is from where the impetus to change – and thus endurance – might come. As we have seen, the organization rejects, on an official level, any formal change in the belief system. Changes need to be made in an unofficial or concealed manner. There are, however, other levels in Scientology from which change and development may arise. In 2003 I conducted a number of interviews with Danish Scientologists who had attained higher soteriological levels. Two were initiated into the highest level on Scientology’s ‘‘Bridge to Total Freedom’’ (OT-VIII), while one had attained a lower level of initiation on the same ladder (OT-III). None of them, however, held important administrative positions. I asked them in what way Hubbard was significant to them, and all three provided answers that were in full accordance with official doctrine: Hubbard is ‘‘source,’’ and is accessible through his writings. However, two of the three (who were randomly selected and not part of any systematic survey) also made several ‘‘unorthodox’’ comments during our discussion. One would not rule out the possibility that Hubbard was in some way actually present in the world. My informant said that it would be ‘‘ridiculous’’ to suggest that Hubbard had taken over the body of David Miscavige, the leader of RTC, as someone apparently had suggested, but would not reject another theory that he had been discussing with fellow believers, namely that Hubbard was 22

Quoted in Geertz, Invention of Prophecy, p. 164.

Scientology, scripture, and sacred tradition

33

‘‘spiritually present in some way,’’ guiding and guarding his organization. The other informant held a similar view. He said that it was be perfectly possible that ‘‘Ron’’ somehow ‘‘was still working on behalf of mankind.’’ These individual opinions do not represent official doctrine, and are examples of the kind of individual variation that one finds even among high-level initiates. One cannot rule out that such personal attitudes could at some point be accepted into the official body of dogmas, and thereby function as a source of innovations. Yet another explanation for the kind of invention of tradition that takes place within Scientology may be found by applying sociologist of religion Danie`le Hervieu-Le´ger’s theory about religion as a chain of memory. According to Hervieu-Le´ger, ‘‘religion is the ideological, symbolic and social device by which the individual and collective awareness of belonging to a lineage of believers is created and controlled.’’23 However, modern societies are no longer ‘‘societies of memory.’’24 Rather, groups and individuals will often choose to inscribe themselves into new contexts where a new historiography can develop. This mechanism is readily visible in a number of new religions. The devoted members of Scientology, for instance, will to a large extent identify their own personal history with that of the organization, thereby providing a common ground for members of the group, who otherwise will typically lack a shared history. This identification is in turn an important precondition for social solidarity. In order to maintain this social mechanism, Scientology deploys a myth of stability and changelessness with regard to Hubbard’s teachings, and as long as this myth is accepted at face value, the system works. Once it falls apart, the credibility and relevance of the organization evaporate. People may then seek other organizations, where they feel that Hubbard’s legacy is preserved in a more trustworthy way, or they may leave the Scientological milieu entirely. A CULTURE OF RETRIBUTION

Dealing with these aspects of Scientology’s religious culture may subject the researcher to Scientological retribution. Those who simply oppose Scientology, whether they are anti-cultists, former members, or critical reporters, are often singled out for attack, while academics with a more nuanced approach are usually left to pursue their research as they see fit. This, quite obviously, is due to the fact that Scientology will frequently make use of scholars of religion in its strategic efforts to be recognized as a 23

Herveiu-Le´ger, Religion as a Chain of Memory, back cover.

24

Ibid., pp. 123f.

34

MIKAEL ROTHSTEIN

‘‘bona fide’’ religion, either in legal terms or in the eyes of the public. The more forgiving attitude of Scientology toward historians and sociologists of religion is strategic. Fighting critics and opponents in court cases is a common element in Scientology’s way of handling opposition, much in the same way as a major US-based company might instigate legal proceedings against those who infringe its rights. Scientology’s practice of defending brands, copyrights, and authorizations of various kinds should, however, be regarded as a theological necessity as much as a legal strategy. Playing the ‘‘lawyer card’’ probably comes as a natural consequence of Scientology’s deliberate commodification of its religious services. The organization sells a product, and the product has to be preserved and promoted through branding and PR, and protected against other forces at work in the marketplace. The history of legal proceedings is also a part of the way in which Scientology constructs its own tradition. Indeed, the self-perception as a persecuted minority that needs legal protection is an important component of what it means to be a Scientologist. Furthermore, as Scientology sees it, the legal strategy is a way of defending the sacred texts against misrepresentation and propaganda. From an outside perspective, this might instead be viewed as creating space for handling the texts in any way the organization wishes, including changing them for various purposes. The legal ways of business life are easily transferred into the realm of religion, because in Scientology important aspects of religion have been transferred into the realm of business. The two realms go hand in hand, and naturally lead to the possibility of handling religious texts by means of secular law. Scientology’s sacred texts are generally placed in the same social and legal context as most books and therefore subjected to the same rules and risks as any publication. This integration into secular structures is also a part of Scientology’s tradition. The organization goes to considerable lengths to control the status and fate of its books, not only through the efforts of RTC and CST, but also by distributing all its materials through its own publishing house, New Era Publications. In this way a commercial company, in cooperation with certain religious agencies, becomes the guardian of a religious legacy. On its website, New Era Publications presents its goals and obligations: [New Era], located in Copenhagen, Denmark, has been publishing the works of bestselling author and humanitarian L. Ron Hubbard since 1969. This period has seen a rapidly increasing demand for L. Ron Hubbard’s works, leading to a steady growth of the company. NEW ERA ranks today as one of Scandinavia’s largest export publishers and has established subsidiary companies

Scientology, scripture, and sacred tradition

35

and liaison offices in major markets around the world: United Kingdom, Japan, Germany, Italy, Spain, Australia, Hungary, Russia, South Africa, Taiwan and India. Worldwide Distribution NEW ERA is a strongly international group, publishing in a total of 53 languages, with distribution in over 100 countries. NEW ERA also licenses translations, reprint and distribution rights and engages in joint-ventures and co-publishing of its titles . . . A timeless legacy The constantly growing sales of L. Ron Hubbard’s books is [sic] a testament to the timeless appeal of his work. Over 156,000,000 copies of his works sold and no less than 19 New York Times bestsellers underscore his impact on our culture as one of the most widely read and influential authors of our time. New nonfiction editions, audio-visual adaptations, translations and republications of L. Ron Hubbard’s many classic bestsellers form a program which stretches decades into the future – along with NEW ERA’s commitment to bring those works to all peoples of Earth.25

Furthermore, Galaxy Press has been set up in order to administer and distribute the ‘‘L. Ron Hubbard Fiction Library,’’ that is, the many popular cowboy, detective, and science fiction novels and short stories written by Hubbard. By commodifying Scientology’s sacred texts, the organization is able to protect them within the boundaries of common law. This is, obviously, an option available to Scientology as a young religion. Older traditions lack legally recognized authors and copyright holders. Who owns the Qur’an? Who owns the Bhagavad-Gita? Who owns the Bible? CONCLUSION

As suggested throughout this volume, tradition – for instance in the shape of misattributed texts – can be invoked to gain legitimacy. This is particularly the case with Scientology. Texts not written by Hubbard are presented as if they were, because doctrine demands it. Those who actually are behind the post-Hubbard texts simply cannot appear as authors or editors. Their only possible role is that of caretakers. It is interesting in this connection to note that no individuals apart from RTC top executive David Miscavige are mentioned in relation to the publication of texts written by or attributed to Hubbard. The texts are issued by agencies or institutions, not published by persons with individual responsibilities. 25

(accessed August 2006).

36

MIKAEL ROTHSTEIN

Editors are nameless, as are the host of translators who work under strict rules in Scientology’s various facilities. The texts, as encountered by readers, emanate from the diffuse body of Scientology departments. They have no real sender. The way ordinary Scientologists experience it, the texts are generated by the vast apparatus that is routinizing Hubbard’s legacy. Furthermore, careful measures are taken to emphasize that the only visible individual, David Miscavige, is a servant of Hubbard’s message, not an agent in his own right. Moreover, Miscavige as a person is clouded in mystery. He is the de facto leader of Scientology, yet remains utterly remote. Hubbard, who died in 1986, is alone in embodying the organization. Scientology’s organizational structure also explains how invented or revised texts have entered the textual corpus attributed to L. Ron Hubbard. The texts are so many and so complex that only a few people are acquainted with the entire corpus. Furthermore, their presence in the public domain is, in fact, very restricted. The various Scientology departments that deal with the texts control them strictly, and most titles are available only through Scientology facilities, usually in relation to courses or for other educational purposes. Moreover, it is commonly understood among Scientologists that many of Hubbard’s texts are as yet unpublished. Scientologists expect new texts to be released, as the organization decides to make accessible courses at even higher initiatory levels. Currently the highest esoteric level available in Scientology’s initiatory system (known as ‘‘The Bridge’’) is the so-called OT-VIII (‘‘Operating Thetan’’ level 8), but rumor has it that several more will be made available as humankind becomes mature enough to receive them.26 These courses – including vast quantities of text – are understood to have been prepared by Hubbard long ago. The power structure and centralism of Scientology make an internal debate on these issues impossible. As we have already seen, people tend to leave the organization if the textual paradoxes are felt to be too morally disturbing. Consequently, the debate unfolds between representatives of the organization and various defectors, that is, people who feel they should be steadfast, loyal, and true to Hubbard rather than to Scientology. Over the years I have asked private Scientologists, rank-and-file members active in the organization, and executives in higher positions how they feel about this problem, but there has been almost no reaction. For them, the problem simply does not exist. It is a ghost invoked by enemies of 26

The concept ‘‘Thetan’’ is Scientology’s equivalent for ‘‘soul,’’ the real entity that is limited in its functions by its presence in a body. The OT courses seek to develop and free the Thetan.

Scientology, scripture, and sacred tradition

37

Scientology, they say. So, to my knowledge, there are no open or deliberate hermeneutic strategies at work internally that would explain the discrepancies in the texts, no arguments, and no interpretations. There are the socalled ‘‘policies’’ mentioned above, but they are hardly known to average members, and are certainly not openly mentioned by Scientology executives. Scientology maintains that ‘‘nothing has been changed.’’ At the same time, however, adaptations to new conditions are necessary, but admitting that this is the case would be to lower Hubbard’s status and make him less than perfect. This, for Scientology, is out of the question. The only viable solution is to employ a revised reality, a kind of necessary lie that preserves the religious ideology and the organization intact, while at the same time allowing alterations to be made in the texts when needed. Since, officially, no change has taken place, no change in attitude toward the texts is needed. They remain the work of L. Ron Hubbard. REFERENCES

Refslund Christensen, Dorthe, ‘‘Inventing L. Ron Hubbard: On the Construction and Maintenance of the Hagiographic Mythology of Scientology’s Founder,’’ in James R. Lewis and Jesper Aagaard Petersen (eds.), Controversial New Religions (New York: Oxford University Press), 2005, pp. 227–58. Geertz, Armin W., The Invention of Prophecy: Continuity and Meaning in Hopi Indian Religion (Knebel: Brunebakke Publications, 1992). Herveiu-Le´ger, Danie`le, Religion as a chain of Memory (London: Polity Press). Rothstein, Mikael, Gud er (stadig) bla˚ (Copenhagen: Aschehoug), 2006. ‘‘Hagiography and Text in the Aetherius Society: Aspects of the Social Construction of a Religious Leader,’’ in Mikael Rothstein and Reender Kranenborg (eds.), New Religions in a Post-Modern World (Aarhus: Aarhus University Press, 2003), pp. 165–93.

CHAPTER

2

‘‘He may be lying but what he says is true’’: the sacred tradition of don Juan as reported by Carlos Castaneda, anthropologist, trickster, guru, allegorist Charlotte E. Hardman

Shamanism has intrigued the Western world for over 500 years. When in 1968 an inaccessible and inscrutable student of anthropology called Carlos Castaneda published his book The Teaching of Don Juan, a legion of seekers after truth, social scientists, and scientists in the Western world became fascinated by the worldview of a Yaqui sorcerer who was teaching Carlos to ‘‘see’’ at twilight through the crack in the universe to an alternative reality by ridding him of his blinkered Western logic. Castaneda’s books sowed the seed of Western shamanism, often called neo-shamanism, which spread worldwide in the 1970s. Castaneda has been described as ‘‘one of the great avatars . . . of the psychedelic age’’1 and ‘‘the principal psychological, spiritual and literary genius of recent generations,’’ and the Yaqui sorcerer don Juan as ‘‘the most important paradigm since Jesus.’’2 The anthropologist Edith Turner sees Castaneda’s research as a great liberation, taking us – ‘‘like Dante – through a dark passage out the other side into a state of enlightenment.’’3 The two questions to be answered in this chapter are: (1) How did it come about that a large section of the Western world endowed Carlos Castaneda with such authority that his early books were welcomed as the discovery of an extraordinarily coherent ancient and sacred tradition? (2) When the authenticity of his sources was doubted, why did Castaneda’s fame continue, focusing on his imaginative creation and the significance of a new kind of ethnography celebrating the experiential? This chapter argues that the concept of charisma can give a partial answer to these questions, especially if we focus on the creation of charisma through the use of allegory and rhetoric to construct authenticity and legitimacy. In this sense, the 1 2 3

Goodman, I Was Carlos Castaneda, p. xi. Pearce, ‘‘Don Juan and Jesus,’’ pp. 191–218, quoted in Noel, Seeing Castaneda, pp. 13–14. Turner, ‘‘The Teachings of Castaneda.’’

38

‘‘He may be lying but what he says is true’’

39

success of Castaneda’s early works can be usefully compared with the art of fantasy literature (Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia, Pullman’s His Dark Materials). He can also be compared to other figures who claimed access to undiscovered sacred sources, such as Madame Blavatsky, or Gurdjieff. These ‘‘independent teachers’’ or ‘‘enlightened masters’’ all falsely profess to be teaching secret traditions when in fact they each ‘‘teach from himself or herself.’’4 Castaneda, like these other self-styled ‘‘masters,’’ wrote with forceful rhetoric to convince readers that he had found the answer to the problems of existence. In spite of the hostility shown by Castaneda, Blavatsky, and Gurdjieff to the Enlightenment and the scientific worldview it encouraged, they all owe much in their efforts to establish new sacred traditions to the sceptical Enlightenment view which emphasized religious toleration and the basic oneness of human nature.5 All three attempted to re-enchant the world and bring back the mystery. The context in which all three invented popular sacred traditions was a disenchanted world. In attempting to understand ‘‘invented traditions’’ it should be stated from the outset that, unlike Hobsbawm and Ranger,6 I do not distinguish between genuine, real, old traditions and traditions that are invented, contrived, and new in quite the way that they do. Although a distinction between authentic ethnographic reporting and the fictitious can be made, nevertheless creativity, omission, or distortion is inevitable in the description of any culture, tradition, or religion. Anthony Giddens observed that ‘‘All traditions . . . are invented traditions. No traditional societies were wholly traditional, and traditions and customs have been invented for a diversity of reasons. We shouldn’t suppose that the conscious construction of tradition is found only in the modern period.’’7 Movement, change, imagination, and debate are essential in the formation of traditions. The notion of ‘‘invented tradition’’ itself demands questioning, since it insinuates the idea of true and original sacred traditions and neglects the constant creativity of human beings.8 It is rather scholars who have shaped and prioritized the notion of a true original. As we shall see, the example of Castaneda shows that whether or not a sacred tradition is genuine or original is less important than its appeal; to succeed, any tradition has to appeal to a section of the world wishing to believe its ‘‘truth’’ at a particular point in history. It also has to gain ‘‘authenticity’’ from some creative 4 6 8

Rawlinson, Book of Enlightened Masters, p. 25. 5 See Hanegraff, New Age Religion, pp. 443–55. Hobsbawm and Ranger, Invention of Tradition. 7 Giddens, ‘‘Runaway World.’’ See Carrithers, ‘‘Why Anthropologists should study Rhetoric.’’

40

CHARLOTTE E. HARDMAN

figure. I suggest that the sacred tradition of don Juan has a place in the imagining of Western religions and in the discipline of anthropology because it located and communicated the tension between Western scientific rationality and the power of altered states of consciousness; between science and imagination; between the exotic and the familiar; between ‘‘disenchantment’’ and the magic of the sorcerer. What the invention of sacred traditions can tell us about the creators, the followers, and the eras in which they arise is often more interesting than the focus on the ‘‘legitimacy’’ or ‘‘truth’’ of their worldviews. BACKGROUND

Carlos Castaneda’s first book, The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge, a Master’s dissertation, was praised in its foreword by Professor Walter Goldschmidt, an anthropologist at UCLA, for trying to explain the world of don Juan from inside, in terms of its own inner logic, bridging ‘‘for us the world of the Yaqui sorcerer with our own, the world of non-ordinary reality with the world of ordinary reality.’’9 Published by Simon & Schuster, the book went straight to the top of the bestseller list. His four subsequent books also became bestsellers, and Castaneda became a key figure in the New Age. Much to his annoyance, reviewers called him ‘‘one of the Godfathers of the New Age.’’10 Carlos Castaneda’s authority and popularity relied heavily on his reputation as an anthropologist, recording spiritual and hallucinogenic experiences and his in-depth conversations with an Indian sorcerer, eliciting his sacred tradition. Eager to secure his status as a bona fide anthropologist, he submitted Journey to Ixtlan as his doctoral dissertation. As this secretive yet experience-seeking anthropologist, he inspired millions desirous of an alternative to Western logic and modern rationality. Though other anthropologists were recording Indian worldviews similar to those of don Juan,11 no one had found such systematic philosophizing as apparently possessed by this sorcerer.12 Castaneda’s influence spread well beyond anthropology, even to the front cover of Time magazine (March 5, 1973). 9 10 12

Foreword to Castaneda, Teachings of Don Juan, p. 10. Wallace, Sorcerer’s Apprentice, p. 16. 11 Myerhoff, Peyote Hunt; Harner, The Jivaro. Marcel Griaule’s Dieu d’Eaux (1948), first published in English as Conversations with Ogotemmeˆli in 1965, showed that Ogotemmeˆli had more cultural wisdom than don Juan. Ogotemmeˆli had a deep knowledge of Dogon myth, religion, and philosophy, whereas Castaneda’s don Juan is individualistic – his knowledge is that of the individual sorcerer – yet Griaule’s book, though a classic, is not a bestseller.

‘‘He may be lying but what he says is true’’

41

The early books outlined Castaneda’s struggles with don Juan’s path to be ‘‘a man of knowledge’’ – someone who has direct knowledge of the world as opposed to academic knowledge which transcends experience, such as having sufficient clarity of mind and energy to become a warrior, to lead a warrior’s life, and to accept and overcome fear.13 The sacred tradition involved the acceptance of the existence of separate but equal realities, and the aim was to test all of Castaneda’s Western presuppositions. To achieve that, he had to have an ally, ‘‘a power capable of transforming a man beyond the boundaries of himself,’’14 and in the early books the ‘‘allies’’ were hallucinogens (peyote, datura, and mushrooms), since states of non-ordinary reality allow people to ‘‘see’’ not hallucinations but concrete, although unordinary, aspects of the reality of everyday life. He has famous visionary encounters with Mescalito and he flies as a crow. He has twenty-two drug experiments in the first two books,15 but in the third book Castaneda experiences non-ordinary events without drugs. He sees a bridge and sleeps in a cave, neither of which exists in ordinary reality; he sees mountains as a web of light fibres; and don Genaro, don Juan’s sorcerer friend, is able to leap 10 miles to a mountaintop. The later books further describe ideas of knowledge and power, apparently gained from don Juan, and relate extraordinary magical struggles between sorcerers. Castaneda also articulates a whole metaphysics about the nature and role of perception in molding the world. By the 1980s his embodiment of don Juan made him a man with ‘‘special powers,’’ a nagual, surrounded by an inner group of ‘‘witches’’ (Carol Tiggs, Florinder Grau, Taisha Abelar) and an outer ‘‘cult’’ group, largely despised but encountered in workshops costing $600 a head. At first, the extraordinary material apparently obtained during twelve years (1960–72) of apprenticeship with a medicine man was seen as serious ethnography. More philosophical Socratic conversations than conventional anthropology, here was an Indian brujo revealing his secret knowledge to an eager student. Gradually, however, the anthropological world became dubious about Castaneda’s ‘‘fieldwork.’’ In spite of numerous Californian students’ attempts, no one else could find don Juan; anthropologists doubted whether don Juan’s ‘‘teachings’’ were Yaqui (Yaqui don’t use datura), and hallucinogenic mushrooms do not grow in the Sonoran Desert, where Castaneda supposedly took them with don Juan. There were no field notes, and much of the dialogue did not fit with the claim that they were translated from Spanish. In 1976 a psychologist, Richard de 13 15

Castaneda, Separate Reality, pp. 12, 197. De Mille, Castaneda’s Journey, pp. 166–8.

14

Ibid., 199.

42

CHARLOTTE E. HARDMAN

Mille, wrote a devastating critique of Castaneda’s books, giving detailed evidence suggesting a hoax. Weston La Barre described the work as pseudoethnography,16 and Gordon Wasson, an expert on sacred mushrooms, received an evasive reply to his letter questioning his description of the mushrooms used.17 Critics saw pseudo-anthropology and the appropriation of American Indian traditions for material gain, exploitation, and a pandering to New Age desires for ancient traditions, magic, and self-empowerment. As Castaneda’s books became increasingly full of ‘‘New Age’’ occult and Castaneda became wealthier from sales and expensive workshops, the voices about a fictitious hoax became more vocal. By the 1980s many were convinced that Castaneda was a habitual falsifier. That he invented his sacred tradition, or rather compiled it from numerous sources other than from any one person called don Juan, has been argued fully.18 But if the fieldwork is a hoax, what emerges just as strongly is the sense that it is not a ‘‘complete spoof ’’ like the work of Lobsang Rampa,19 but a work of art, an allegory conveying a ‘‘truth’’ about reality better than any nonfiction work could. For some, Castaneda’s authenticity remains a mystery; for others, in many ways it does not matter. He may be lying but what he says is true. The faithful remain and discussions continue.20 PUBLIC RESPONSE

The authority of Carlos Castaneda’s books was constructed in part by this public debate and his emergence in the public arena. As Bruner suggests, ‘‘For ethnographers, tourists, and indigenous peoples the question is not if authenticity is inherent in an object, as if it were a thing out there to be discovered or unearthed, but rather, how is authenticity constructed . . . . What are the processes of production of authenticity? . . . authenticity, too is something sought, fought over, and reinvented.’’21 The public debate about Carlos Castaneda in the late sixties created a significant don Juan / Carlos Castaneda discourse about alternative realities. Many claimed that the validity of the books came from making the traditions of shamanism and the notion of non-ordinary reality available to a wide audience. For them this was more important than whether they came from authentic anthropological fieldwork. Roger Jellinek wrote in 1971: 16 18

19 21

De Mille, Don Juan Papers, p. 105. 17 See ibid., pp. 319–32. See Noel, Seeing Castaneda; de Mille, Castaneda’s Journey; Don Juan Papers; Wallace, Sorcerer’s Apprentice; Runyan Castaneda, Magical Journey. Leach, ‘‘High School Review,’’ p. 37. 20 Krippner, ‘‘Castaneda.’’ Bruner, ‘‘Epilogue,’’ p. 326.

‘‘He may be lying but what he says is true’’

43

One can’t exaggerate the significance of what Castaneda has done. He is describing a shamanistic tradition, a pre-logical cultural form that is no-one-knows how old. It has been described often . . . But it seems that no other outsider, and certainly not a ‘‘Westerner,’’ has ever participated in its mysteries from within; nor has anyone described them so well.22

Similarly, Michael Harner congratulated him ‘‘regardless of the questions that have been raised regarding their degree of fictionalization’’ for having ‘‘performed the valuable service of introducing many Westerners to the adventure and excitement of shamanism.’’23 A different response, equally endowing Castaneda with scholarly legitimacy, are those arguing that, since shamanism is a worldwide phenomenon, parallels are inevitable and what is significant is the experience. C. J. S. Clarke, a professor of applied mathematics, is convinced by the significance of Castaneda’s experiences. Although he accepts evidence showing that Castanda’s books are fiction, he does not see this as detracting from their value: ‘‘The close parallels between what Castaneda describes and other areas of shamanic experience show that he is presenting genuine anthropological material . . . the books bring together and comment upon a wide range of genuine experiences of alternative reality.’’24 For Clarke, the books are depictions of experiences, and the exploration of these experiences and new paradigms is an essential part of science. Michael Harner supports this view, defending Castaneda from de Mille’s accusations of plagiarism by stating that the latter must be ‘‘unaware that remarkable parallels exist in shamanic belief and practice throughout the primitive world.’’25 In Harner’s view, Castaneda shows the ‘‘process’’ of becoming a shaman, and it is this experience of non-ordinary reality which gives the books validity.26 Ethnography from the books is therefore cited in Harner’s The Way of the Shaman as shamanic parallels; Castaneda’s distinction between ‘‘ordinary reality’’ and ‘‘non-ordinary reality’’ is adopted and becomes central to Harner’s ‘‘core shamanism’’ and to neo-shamanism. Harner accounts for ‘‘the deep-seated, emotional hostility that greeted the works of Castaneda’’ in terms of prejudice, not ethnocentrism but cognicentrism, prejudice against the concept of non-ordinary reality by those who have never experienced it.27 For Harner, those who cannot appreciate Castaneda are simply prejudiced. Harner said, ‘‘I think Castaneda’s work is 110 percent valid. He conveys a deep truth, though his specific details can often be justifiably questioned.’’28 22 23 25 27

Jellinek, quoted in Thompson, ‘‘Carlos Castaneda Speaks.’’ Harner, Way of the Shaman, p. xxiii. 24 Clarke, Reality, p. 163. In de Mille, Don Juan Papers, p. 40. 26 Harner, Way of the Shaman. Ibid., p. xx. 28 In de Mille, Don Juan Papers, p. 22.

44

CHARLOTTE E. HARDMAN

Castaneda’s don Juan needed authentication by academics, and for many Michael Harner’s position in an ‘‘academic foundation’’ and his reputation as an expert on shamanism made his acceptance of Castaneda invaluable. Harner’s own workshops also validate Castaneda, since they rely on Castaneda’s distinction between ‘‘non-ordinary reality’’ and ‘‘ordinary reality’’ and offer the experience that many could not obtain through just reading the books. One believer writes: I became interested in different paths, including the internal martial arts, ecstatic Christianity, Eastern religions and philosophies, and meditation. All the while, I yearned for the kinds of experiences Carlos Castaneda described in his first five books. Then I met Michael Harner, taking the Basic workshop in 1981, and felt that I had found what I had been looking for: a spirituality that offered direct experience, promoted intimacy with the natural world, enabled one to help others, and demanded personal freedom.29

It is quite common for followers of Castaneda and the Warrior Path or the Toltec path to see those who classify Castaneda’s work as ‘‘fiction’’ as being hindered by their lack of experience of other realities. Castaneda’s work can only really be appreciated if you can ‘‘read between the lines’’ . . . all great works of spiritual import (including the Bible) speak deeply to those who have EXPERIENCED a deeper journey and a deeper calling of Reality than simply the alignment or nonalignment of ‘‘factual data.’’30

Nevil Drury, a New Age author, similarly focuses on the significance of Castaneda’s experiences: Carlos himself is probably the actual visionary and many of the shamanistic perspectives have probably been implanted in the personage of the real, partially real, and unreal being known as don Juan. In this sense it hardly matters to the person interested in consciousness and states of perception whether don Juan is real or not since the fiction, if it is that, is authentic.31

Transpersonal experiences, trance states, altered states of consciousness, and alternative reality are the terminology for the new don Juan debates and have become an empirical foundation for a spiritual worldview; psychology is sacralized and religion psychologized. It may all be in the mind, but what is in the mind is real and can shift our view of the world.32 Authenticity for many in the New Age is considered a matter of personal interpretation, and since Carlos has clearly experienced non-ordinary reality, what he says must be true even if it is put in a fictional form. 29 31

. 30 . Drury, Elements, 87. 32 See Hanegraaff, New Age, pp. 224–9.

‘‘He may be lying but what he says is true’’

45

Debates in anthropology have contributed to the case for the validity and ‘‘sacredness’’ of the books. Some anthropologists could find similarities in their own fieldwork with shamans and had ‘‘validating experiences.’’ Marton describes his own validating experience of the Afro-Cuban Orisha path.33 Peters, Grindal, and Stoller produced ethnographies in the 1980s which contributed to the reflexive, narrative, novelistic tradition of Castaneda. Creativity in anthropology became central to how cultural worlds are represented34 – a case well argued by Marcus Clifford.35 Although many anthropologists recognize the significance of Castaneda in opening up these issues of experimental writing and the predicament of ethnography – that it is always caught up in the invention, not the representation, of cultures36 – most anthropologists reject Castaneda since he refused to make available ways of evaluating and monitoring his information.37 He is the trickster of anthropology. As tricksters in myths often are, he was clever and unprincipled, a master of inversion, contradiction and ambiguity, and he delighted in giving an alternative way to that of ordinary anthropology. He certainly encouraged more self-reflective ethnographies which no longer claim to have the ‘‘truth’’ about any society. Professor Stan Wilk has argued that the books complement scientific anthropology, a mythic study of science to complete the scientific study of myth. ‘‘The Don Juan books are ‘beneficially viewed as a sacred text’ which prepares us ‘to witness, to accept without really understanding.’ ’’38 Carlos Castaneda’s ambiguous legacy to anthropology is fully documented by Yves Marton.39 In contrast to the ambiguous response of anthropologists, millions of readers responded to Castaneda by buying the books (some eight million in seventeen languages). These books reflected their new interest in nonrational approaches to reality. Castaneda was articulating what people around him were increasingly feeling, that is, a growing dislike of an overly rational, scientific, materialistic world that had no understanding or feeling for ‘‘other realities,’’ such as those to be experienced on hallucinogenic drugs. The counter-culture in 1968 was ready for an alternative to the dominant scientific view. In the 1950s and ’60s California was alive with students experimenting with drugs. Aldous Huxley had taken mescaline in 1953 and in 1954 he described his experiences with hallucinatory drugs in

33 34 35 37 38

Marton, ‘‘Experiential Approach,’’ p. 278. Peters, Ecstasy and Healing; Grindal, ‘‘Into the Heart’’; Stoller, Fusion of Worlds. Clifford, Predicament of Culture; Routes. 36 Marton, ‘‘Experiential Approach.’’ Marcus and Fisher, Anthropology as Cultural Critique, p. 40. In de Mille, Don Juan Papers. 39 Marton, ‘‘Experiential Approach,’’ pp. 273–97.

46

CHARLOTTE E. HARDMAN

The Doors of Perception. Castaneda was much intrigued by Huxley, who represented for the generation of the 1960s a new freedom to explore other realities, a freedom from the whole Western industrial complex. The success of Castaneda’s portrayal of don Juan’s ancient sacred tradition makes sense against the background of opposition to modern ‘‘Enlightenment’’ views of reality, raising issues about consciousness, the nature of reality, and the nature of the person. He made famous the notion of ‘‘non-ordinary reality.’’ As de Mille says in his first critique of Castaneda, ‘‘Castaneda was kicking some very big true ideas around: There is more than one kind of reality. There is magic that is not illusion. The world is that which comes out of what can be . . . Responsibility gives power. But greater than power is knowledge.’’40 The new religion of Toltec Warriors, based on don Juan’s Toltec warrior tradition, which Castaneda created around him in the counterculture of the 1970s and ’80s, played on the mystery and the fascination of the hippies and beats, and on the anthropological academe for exploring and validating the existence of other realities. He had identified a Western wish to break out of the scientific paradigm and to experience, like Castaneda, the insider’s view. He provided them with Tensegrity, dance moves similar to Gurdjieff ’s, and opened the way for Harner to develop ‘‘core shamanism’’ for the development of neo-shamanism for everyone. This popularity of neo-shamanism continued and spread with Nevil Drury, Harley SwiftDeer, Archie LameDeer, Lynn Andrews, Jonathan Horwitz and Sun Bear. SwiftDeer, for example, founded the ‘‘Deer Tribe Metis Medicine Society Shamanic Lodge of Ceremonial Medicine’’ in 1986 and claims that he and Carlos Castaneda studied under the same Native American medicine men and took part together in meetings in Mexico. They created a mythical role for Castaneda, claiming that his books used the secret teachings of the ‘‘Twisted Hairs Council of Elders,’’ who collected an eclectic body of traditional and powerful knowledge from American Indians from both North and South America. Members say because the planet was in such crisis, Carlos Castaneda was given the knowledge and told to reveal it to the world as a hook to ‘‘wake people up to how the world should be.’’41 They claim that SwiftDeer and the Deer tribe are modernday representatives of an ancient lineage of sacred knowledge which has evolved over thousands of years. Their references to an ancient lineage and to Castaneda himself are the strategies for authenticating this new tradition of ‘‘personal growth and spiritual awakening.’’ Other leaders of 40

De Mille, Castaneda’s Journey, p. 16.

41

Deer Tribe, personal communication.

‘‘He may be lying but what he says is true’’

47

neo-shamanic groups, such as Michael Harner and Victor Sanchez, have similarly created a mythical role for Castaneda in their own creations. So why did so many endow him with such authority? De Mille wondered why he didn’t dismiss Castaneda. My friend supplied the answer. Castaneda wasn’t a common con man, he lied to bring the truth. His stories are packed with truth, though they are not true stories as he says they are. This is a sham-man bearing gifts, an ambiguous spellbinder dealing simultaneously in contrary commodities – wisdom and deception.42

We have seen from the range of responses and disagreements that the authenticity was fought over, claimed, and counter-claimed, and in the very process of discussion authenticity was both created and destroyed, invented and reinvented. If what he wrote was purely from his imagination, for many believers and academics it didn’t matter. The books contain deep truths. They make shamanism available to a wide audience. They are innovative ethnography. They confront the hegemony of the Western scientific tradition. The planet is in crisis and needs these books to change us. The tradition presented in Castaneda’s books is presented, like Theosophy before it, as an ancient tradition. The authority of don Juan is gained from his status as a wise ‘‘sorcerer’’ who has insight and knowledge unavailable to the rest of us. He was invented, imagined, a construct. CHARISMA, RHETORIC, AND ALLEGORY

We have seen that Castaneda achieved legitimate authority through academic status, public debate, and public response to the fictive tradition of a wise sorcerer. In this section I examine how he achieved legitimate authority and power through the use of charisma, rhetoric, and allegory. Many new traditions achieve authenticity through the charisma of their leaders. Max Weber, in his classic text on authority and power, differentiates between legal/rational authority (university or government hierarchies), traditional authority (the Queen) and charismatic authority (prophets, shamans, and some religious leaders), depending on the leader’s charis (‘‘gift of grace’’). There is no appointment, dismissal, or promotion in charismatic authority; it depends on its recognition by followers. According to Weber, charisma is ‘‘applied to a certain quality of an individual personality by virtue of which he is set apart from ordinary men and treated as endowed with supernatural, superhuman, or at least 42

De Mille, Castaneda’s Journey, p. 41.

48

CHARLOTTE E. HARDMAN

specifically exceptional powers or qualities.’’43 It is hard to assess the extent to which Castaneda’s authority can be located in charisma. The sociological term as defined by Weber (and further elaborated by Brian Wilson, Roy Wallis, and Eileen Barker44) illuminates some of Castaneda’s success as a popular figure. It is hard, however, to detach from Castaneda’s power the traditional authority gained from academic status (which he fought for) and the authority of the one he embodied, that is don Juan. I think it is important in this case to identify the specific tools and techniques of Castaneda’s authenticity and authority, which are overwhelmingly constructed through public discussion, his use of rhetoric and metaphor (in the form of allegory), and the strategy of reported discourse and performance. Followers believed that Castaneda must have been an extraordinary person because of the way he reported his meetings with don Juan and persuaded his readers to become involved in that interaction and his learning process. Inspired by don Juan’s vision, as portrayed by Carlos, followers described Castaneda as having enormous gifts and magical powers. Carlos Castaneda was famous – hundreds of thousands of students were challenged by one or more of his books; they were trying out the drugs, seeking out don Juan. The reality was usually a disappointment. As his ex-wife Margaret Runyan puts it: There were students eating raw peyote and snorting mescaline through rolled $20 bills, trying to share in this thing that was happening. It was as if they thought maybe something phenomenal was going to happen when Castaneda walked into the auditorium . . . Only he didn’t look like Castaneda, or rather like everybody’s ideal of Castaneda. He was short and slightly paunchy with glistening black hair trimmed short and brown suit with white shirt and narrow tan and cream tie. He had this dour sedentary look . . . This was the purveyor of the new mysticism – a guy who looked like a Cuban bellhop.45

He was not charismatic in the popular sense of a quality of a person, the ‘‘big man theory.’’ His early public lectures were not successful and often led people to wonder if Castaneda had sent some understudy to speak for him. The myth developed that the real Castaneda was in hiding, a recluse. But for numerous others, the readers worldwide, the charismatic image and the rhetoric remained. Much of Castaneda’s power was created by myth, the allegory of his meetings with don Juan, and the mystery of Carlos himself – ‘‘even his 43 44

45

Weber, Theory of Social, p. 358. Wilson, Magic and the Millennium; The Noble Savages; Wallis, ‘‘Social Construction of Charisma’’; Barker, ‘‘Charismatization.’’ Runyan Castaneda, Magical Journey, pp. 165–6.

‘‘He may be lying but what he says is true’’

49

close friends aren’t sure who he is.’’46 The art of the hunter, the sorcerer, according to don Juan, is to become inaccessible. Castaneda used this as his explanation for refusing to be photographed or recorded or to reveal biographical data. In order to become don Juan’s apprentice, Castaneda claims, he was told in December 1960 to ‘‘erase his personal history’’: What shamans like don Juan seek is a state of fluidity where the personal ‘‘me’’ does not count. He believed that an absence of photographs and biographical data affects whomever enters into this field of action in a positive, though subliminal way. We are endlessly accustomed to using photographs, recordings and biographical data, all of which spring from the idea of personal importance. Don Juan said it was better not to know anything about a shaman; in this way, instead of encountering a person, one encounters an idea that can be sustained.47

The image that is sustained is that of the warrior with a different way of being in the world, living by acting, not by thinking about acting, nor by thinking about what he will think when he has finished acting. In other words, a man of knowledge has no honor, no dignity, no family, no name, no country, but only life to be lived, and under these circumstances his only tie to his fellow men is his controlled folly.48

The rhetoric is skillful. Many tried to copy Castaneda, seeking to be spiritual adventurers unafraid to push against the boundaries of convention. Castaneda had always been skilled at self-mystification. Though born in Peru, he had changed his year of birth, location, family background, and early education. After separating from friends and his wife Margaret in the summer of 1960, Castaneda became elusive, living his own metaphorical life, constantly constructing a separate reality by deliberately transforming common social meanings into uncommon ones – going to Mexico in the blink of an eye, telling you he is in Mexico as he stands talking to you in Los Angeles . . . what makes it metaphorical rather than insane is that Castaneda knows which reality is ordinary and which is nonordinary, though his listener may not.49

According to Barbara Meyerhoff, when Castaneda met the shaman Ramo´n, ‘‘being around the two of them was like entering a separate reality. They really saw and believed and dwelt in another realm.’’50 Castaneda persuaded people through the rhetoric, allegory, and performances in the books. ‘‘As Carlos uses traps and bare hands to catch rabbits, Castaneda uses stories and gestures to catch people.’’51 Persuasion lies 46 49

Ibid., p. 17. 47 Rivas, ‘‘Navigating.’’ 48 Castaneda, Separate Reality, p. 98. De Mille, Don Juan Papers, p. 376. 50 Ibid., p. 344. 51 Ibid., p. 380.

50

CHARLOTTE E. HARDMAN

behind the ubiquitous conversations between Carlos and don Juan. Readers are charmed and drawn in by these conversations, identifying with Castaneda and yet feeling superior at his irritating inability to escape his Western logic. The skill of his rhetoric lay in describing another reality, denying the validity of our own ordinary reality and conveying this through the allegory of ethnographic fieldwork and his struggle to understand another worldview. The academic validation of his ethnography as factual is fundamental to the creation of this allegory. Fantasy is not just fantasy. It is also ethnography going further than anthropologists had yet dared to tread. Castaneda created a vision suggesting that Yaqui sorcerers know the right way to live; he showed readers what they could be. Rhetoric persuaded thousands that they could voice protest, oppose the conventional view, follow the ‘‘path,’’ and practice magic. They could learn to ‘‘see’’ the ultimate nature of things by adopting ‘‘allies’’ and learning the art of dreaming, the art of stalking, the importance of celibacy, ‘‘controlled folly,’’ and ‘‘being impeccable.’’ He made philosophical, mystical ideas accessible; he made himself the authority on don Juan, and embodied don Juan. But, as Bharati said, There is nothing in Castaneda’s mysticism that you cannot find, sometimes in the same words, in Hindu and Buddhist tantrism or in the official Patanjali yoga, which is perfectly exoteric and comprehensible to westerners . . . Stir together bits of Blavatsky, dollops of David Neel, gobs of Gurdjieff, sops of Ouspensky, snatches of Govinda, yards of Amerindian folklore, and a series of programmatic LSD trips, and you have the don Carlos idiom.52

Michael Carrithers emphasizes the extent to which humans are not just culture-bearing but culture-creating and culture-changing beings. ‘‘Attending to the rhetorical dimension of life requires attending to the rhetorical will, the work on social situations that the persuading agent intends.’’53 The appeal of Castaneda’s rhetoric can be seen in the light of this. Anthropologist Barbara Myerhoff claimed: ‘‘The form he teaches in is essential. It’s as important as the content. His allegory. His mirroring. He gives us in a concrete form things we had abstractly conceptualized but didn’t know how to articulate or use. He does that beautifully. That’s where he’s a gifted teacher.’’54 Myerhoff appreciated Castaneda as being more than a manipulative deceiver, seeing him as embodying don Juan, and possibly through don Juan as expressing a sub-personality of his own.

52 54

Ibid., p. 148. 53 Carrithers, Why Humans Have Cultures. In de Mille, Don Juan Papers, p. 345.

‘‘He may be lying but what he says is true’’

51

She argued that people were not stupid in accepting his work but that many were ready to believe, since ‘‘His allegories, the stories he tells, seem to validate everybody.’’55 Castaneda fits into a pattern of gurus and tricksters who work creatively and inventively with the works and teachings of others to persuade us that they have access to an ancient sacred tradition. And that sacred tradition attracted followers. Central to this is skillful rhetoric – the ability to capture the imagination of audiences as well as offer them spiritual insights and codes of behavior. If we define religion as a system of stories56 (and, after all, myths are the backbone for many indigenous systems of thought, which change and develop over time with each new storyteller), Castaneda was the storyteller who was able to retell the old stories to capture imaginations. The stories had been told before but never with such persuasive force, never with such an aura of mystique. Moreover, they voiced a nostalgia for a different reality, responding to a discontent with Western culture. ‘‘For a generation of people hungry for a different way of life, the message was clear. Native Americans possessed a vast wisdom, a spirituality lost to us.’’57 As are myths, it does not matter whether don Juan really existed, because the function of the books was to encourage a fundamental reconsideration of what reality is. CONCLUSIONS

Carlos Castaneda created the sacred tradition of a sorcerer who supposedly existed somewhere in Mexico. His success in both hoodwinking the academic world into accepting his work as authentic and at the same time establishing a popular new religion, neo-shamanism, with its own ancient sacred tradition, can best be understood in terms of a particular form of ‘‘charismatic authority,’’ involving skillful rhetoric so that he was able to make believable the sorcery apprenticeship he described. The teachings of don Juan, which he described with such rhetorical force, echoed the experiences of those who had tried hallucinogens and those who experienced the impact of a more mystical or spiritual, less rational view of the world. He managed a continuing dialectic between his own creativity and the sources he drew on to create the sacred tradition. In arguing this, I am following Roy Wallis’s extension of Weber’s understanding of

55 57

In Ibid., p. 340. 56 See Tilley, Story Theology; Goldberg, Theology and Narrative. Hammer, Claiming Knowledge, p. 136.

52

CHARLOTTE E. HARDMAN

charismatic authority, and James Fernandez’s arguments about the power of metaphor in creating rhetorical devices, as well as Carrithers’s comments on the persuasiveness of rhetorical narratives.58 Wallis and Barker make clear the extent to which charismatic authority involves the active involvement of followers in creating charisma.59 What we see here is the part that rhetoric can play in this relationship. Castaneda’s devotees and the anthropological academe were persuaded by rhetorical mastery to bestow on him the authority of recognition, which by the 1990s allowed him to expand his authority into a dogmatic cult. Why look at Carlos Castaneda as an example of the invention of a sacred tradition? Because although the ‘‘eclectic metaphysical conversations in the desert were scholastic allegories,’’60 his skill in creating a sacred tradition lay in precisely this – to be the ultimate Trickster Prophet, using the trickster role, rhetoric, allegory, and myth-making to persuade his readers. And in doing so he succeeded in challenging not only scholarly truth and what this means, but in creating the framework for a new religious tradition challenging the old world order and central tenets of the Western world. The worldview described by Castaneda’s don Juan radically challenged modernity, rationality, and consciousness, calling us to believe as fact that magic is not an illusion, that there is more than one reality. The Yaqui ‘‘separate reality’’ was clearly governed by different laws, and although some anthropologists have written about magical phenomena as objectively real, none had experienced the reality in the way described by Castaneda. But because he presented the material in his first four books as social science, material collected from a Yaqui sorcerer, the charlatan trickster forced anthropology to confront the myth-making element in ethnography61 and to accept that there is no ‘‘true’’ ethnography. By creating mystique and by embodying don Juan he took on the authority of the sorcerer’s tradition. The myth he established became the inspiration and the basis upon which Michael Harner could build to create the neoshamanic movement that has spread from the United States to Europe and is now, ironically, reintroducing shamanism to indigenous peoples who have rejected their own sacred traditions.

58

59 60

Wallis, ‘‘Social Construction’’; Fernandez, Persuasions and Performances; Carrithers, ‘‘Why Anthropologists should Study Rhetoric.’’ Wallis, ‘‘Social Construction’’; Barker, ‘‘Charismatization.’’ Clifton, Witchcraft and Shamanism, Foreword. 61 See Clifford and Marcus, Writing Culture.

‘‘He may be lying but what he says is true’’

53

REFERENCES

Barker, Eileen, ‘‘Charismatization: The Social Production of an Ethos Propitious to the Mobilization of Sentiments,’’ in Eileen Barker, James A. Beckford, and Karel Dobbelaere (eds.), Secularization, Rationalism and Sectarianism (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1993), pp. 181–201. Bharati, Agehananda, ‘‘Castaneda and His Apologists: A Dual Mystical Fantasy,’’ in de Mille, Don Juan Papers, pp. 147–60. Bruner, Edward, ‘‘Epilogue: Creative Persona and the problem of Authenticity,’’ in Smadar Lavie, Kirin Narayan, and Renato Rosaldo (eds.), Creativity/ Anthropology (Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press, 1993), pp. 321–34. Castaneda, Carlos, The Art of Dreaming (New York: Thorsons, 1993). Journey to Ixtlan: The Lessons of don Juan (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1972). A Separate Reality: Further Conversations with don Juan (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1971). Tales of Power (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1974). Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge (Penguin Books, 1970 [1968]). Carrithers, Michael, ‘‘Why Anthropologists Should Study Rhetoric,’’ Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, n.s. 11/3 (2005), pp. 577–83. Why Humans Have Cultures: Explaining Anthropology and Social Diversity (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992). Clarke, C. J. S., Reality Through the Looking Glass: Science and Awareness in the Postmodern World (Edinburgh, Floris Books, 1996). Clifford, James, ‘‘On Ethnographic Allegory,’’ in Clifford and Marcus, Writing Culture, pp. 98–121. The Predicament of Culture: Twentieth Century Ethnography, Literature and Art (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1988). Routes: Travel and Translation in the Late Twentieth Century (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1997). Clifford, James, and G. E. Marcus, Writing Culture: The Poetics and Politics of Ethnography (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1986). Clifton, Chas. S., Witchcraft and Shamanism: Witchcraft Today, Book 3 (St. Paul, MN: Llewellyn, 1994). de Mille, Richard, Castaneda’s Journey: The Power and the Allegory (Santa Barbara: Capra Press, 1976). The don Juan Papers: Further Castaneda Controversies (Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publishing Co., 1980). Drury, Nevill, The Elements of Shamanism (Shaftesbury: Element Books, 1989). Fernandez, James, Persuasions and Performances: The Play of Tropes in Culture (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1986). Giddens, Anthony, ‘‘Runaway World,’’ BBC Radio 4, Reith Lecture 3 (November 24, 1999). Goldberg, Michael, Theology and Narrative: A Critical Introduction (Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock Publishers, 2001). Goodman, Martin, I Was Carlos Castaneda (New York: Three Rivers Press, 2001).

54

CHARLOTTE E. HARDMAN

Griaule, Marcel, Conversations with Ogotemmeˆli: An Introduction to Dogon Religious Ideas (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1965). Grindal, Bruce T. ‘‘Into the Heart of Sisala Experience: Witnessing Death Divination,’’ Journal of Anthropological Research 39 (1983), pp. 60–80. Hammer, Olav, Claiming Knowledge: Strategies of Epistemology from Theosophy to the New Age (Leiden: Brill, 2001). Hanegraaff, Wouter J., New Age Religion and Western Culture: Esotericism in the Mirror of Secular Thought (Leiden, New York, and Koln: Brill, 1996). Harner, Michael, The Jivaro: People of the Sacred Waterfalls (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1972). The Way of the Shaman: A Guide to Power and Healing (London: Harper & Row, 1980). Hobsbawm, Eric, and Terence Ranger, The Invention of Tradition (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983). Krippner, Stanley, ‘‘Castaneda: Sorcerer or Shaman?’’ Paper presented at the Annual Spring Meeting of the Society for the Anthropology of Consciousness, Las Vegas, April 3, 2003. Leach, Edmund, ‘‘High School Review,’’ in Noel, Seeing Castaneda, pp. 33–8. Marcus, George E., and Michael J. Fischer, Anthropology as Cultural Critique: An Experimental Moment in the Human Sciences (Chicago: Chicago University Press, 1986). Marton, Yves, ‘‘The Experiential Approach to Anthropology and Castaneda’s Ambiguous Legacy,’’ in Young and Goulet, Being Changed by CrossCultural Encounters, pp. 273–97. Melton, J. Gordon, Jerome Clark, and Aidan A. Kelly, New Age Almanac (Detroit, MI: Gale Research). Myerhoff, Barbara, Peyote Hunt: The Sacred Journey of the Huichol Indians (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1974). Noel, Daniel (ed.), Seeing Castaneda: Reactions to the ‘‘Don Juan’’ Writings of Carlos Castaneda, 191–219 (New York: Capricorn Books, 1976). Pearce, Joseph Chilton, ‘‘Don Juan and Jesus,’’ in Noel, Seeing Castaneda, pp. 191–219. Peters, Larry, Ecstasy and Healing in Nepal (Malibu: Undena, 1981). Rawlinson, Andrew, The Book of Enlightened Masters: Western Teachers in Eastern Traditions (Chicago and La Salle, IL: Open Court, 1997). Rivas, Daniel T. ‘‘Navigating into the Unknown: An Interview with Carlos Castaneda,’’ Uno Mismo (February 1997), Chile and Argentina. Runyan Castaneda, Margaret, A Magical Journey with Carlos Castaneda: Life with the Famed Mystical Warrior (San Jose, NY: Universe.com Inc., 2001). Schroll. Mark A., and S. A. Schwartz, ‘‘Whither Psi and Anthropology? An Incomplete History of SAC Origins, Its Relationship with Transpersonal Psychology and the Untold Stories of Castaneda Controversy,’’ Anthropology of Consciousness 16/1 (2005), pp. 6–24. Smith, Jonathan Z., Imagining Religion (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1982).

‘‘He may be lying but what he says is true’’

55

Stoller, Paul, Fusion of Worlds: An Ethnography of Possession Among the Songhay of Niger (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1989). Thompson, Keith, ‘‘Carlos Castaneda Speaks,’’ New Age (March/April 1994), available at (accessed 20 April 2007). Tilley, Terrence, Story Theology (Collegeville, MN: Michael Glazier Books, 1991). Time magazine, ‘‘Don Juan and the Sorcerer Apprentice,’’ written and researched by Robert Hughes, Sandra Burton, Tomas A. Loayza, and others, 101/10 (March 5, 1973), pp. 36–8, 43–5. Thompson, Keith, ‘‘Carlos Castaneda Speaks: An Interview by Keith Thompson,’’ New Age Journal (March/April 1994). ‘‘A Visible Spirit Form in Zambia,’’ in Young and Goulet, Being Changed by Cross-Cultural Encounters, pp. 71–95. Turner, Edith, ‘‘The Teachings of Castaneda,’’ paper given at the nineteenth Spring Meeting of the Society for the Anthropology of Consciousness, at University of California, Berkeley, March 24–8, 1999. Wallace, Amy, Sorcerer’s Apprentice: My Life with Carlos Castaneda (Berkeley, CA: Frog Ltd., 2003). Wallis, Roy, ‘‘The Social Construction of Charisma,’’ Social Compass 29 (1982), pp. 25–39. Weber, Max, The Theory of Social and Economic Organization (New York: Free Press, 1947). Wilson, Bryan R. Magic and the Millennium (London: Marper & Row, 1973). The Noble Savages: The Primitive Origins of Charisma and Its Contemporary Survival (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1975). Young, David E., and Goulet, Jean-Guy (eds.), Being Changed by Cross-Cultural Encounters: The Anthropology of Extraordinary Experiences (Peterborough, Ont.: Broadview Press, 1994).

CHAPTER

3

The invention of sacred tradition: Mormonism Douglas J. Davies

Mormonism offers an extensive opportunity for a critical discussion of the concept of invented tradition, given both its emergence from preexisting cultural elements and its self-reflection upon that religious ‘‘coming forth.’’ From six inaugurating members in 1830 to 11 million by 2006, its created cultural heartland in America’s Midwest and the issue of its potential status as a world religion present social scientists with interpretative challenges. Following an introductory background and hermeneutical consideration of the problematic concept of ‘‘invented tradition’’ as applied specifically to religious groups, this chapter considers ideological, textual, and ritual forms of Mormonism’s sacred tradition before closing with reflections upon the nature of history and of Mormonism’s future as frames for ‘‘tradition.’’ BACKGROUND

Originally named ‘‘The Church of Christ,’’ this group became ‘‘The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints’’ (LDS) in 1838: from 1995 it has stressed ‘‘The Church of Jesus Christ’’ element. This group needs differentiating from the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (RLDS) that arose after Joseph Smith’s death from those who did not migrate west with the majority membership. A more Protestantlike constituency, it called itself the Saints Church in 1972 and the Community of Christ in 2001. Other groups exist, including those described as ‘‘fundamentalist’’ because they adhere to early traditions of polygamy formally abandoned by the LDS in 1890. This chapter considers only the LDS movement, referring to it as the Church, the Mormon Church, or Mormonism, and to its members as Saints or LDS. It possesses a strong central hierarchy, descending from a Prophet-President and Apostles down to the priesthood, which is held by all worthy males aged twelve and over. Its largely non-paid leaders direct international, national, 56

The invention of sacred tradition: Mormonism

57

regional, and local levels of organization, all inspired by beliefs focused on the family, which is viewed as eternal. This church and family complex is sustained by beliefs, rites, and ethics focused on temples that span the world: the fact that no temple existed in 1830, when the church was founded, except those portrayed in the Bible, emphasizes the expansive potential of invented tradition. To these visible and socially powerful expressions of innovation we might add the socially invisible temple garments that dedicated Mormons wear as underclothing and which furnish a daily, tactile expression of commitment. As ‘‘inventions,’’ these are far more difficult to align with biblical or traditional Christian practice. They did not exist at the church’s foundation, but depend for their status on the fact that Joseph Smith (1805–44) was, in founding the church, accepted as a ‘‘prophet, seer, and revelator’’ who created a dynamic conceptual nexus between the ancient biblical world and the world of emergent America. He fostered in followers attitudes and motivations that encouraged a cultural creativity that invented many traditions. Far from being freestanding, however, such innovation was largely legitimated by the experience and grammar of discourse of preexisting Christianity. Once accepted as prophet on the legitimating model of Old Testament prophecy, the way was open for innovating features distinct from, yet often related to, biblical precedent such as the avoidance of tea and coffee, or the idea of the patriarchal family as an eternally progressing alliance of divine partners. HERMENEUTICAL DIVIDE: INVENTION OR REVELATION?

Deciding on how to describe these developments involves the obvious theoretical problem of faith versus secular analysis. For dedicated Mormons the church is no ‘‘invented tradition’’ but a divine ‘‘Restoration.’’ God returned to the earth true beliefs, organization, and rites that were taken from it shortly after the time of Christ because of human disobedience, an idea manifest in many a monthly Fast and Testimony Meeting, when members witness to their personal sense of the church as the one true church on earth today. Indeed, the very notion of ‘‘invented tradition’’ may even be offensive to faith, suggesting a critical attack upon the sincere authenticity of the prophet, his successors, and today’s believers. Certainly that is not intended in this chapter. Indeed, the fact of faith perspectives in relation to, or even in contradiction with, non-faith-based, ‘‘academic,’’ interpretations is raised precisely to highlight the problems involved when religious rather than political or wider cultural issues are under analysis, since the latter was the case

58

DOUGLAS J. DAVIES

in Hobsbawm and Ranger’s seminal work on The Invention of Tradition.1 Here I would simply state that I am not LDS, and assume that the Mormon group of churches is, like all churches, a naturally occurring phenomenon. Adopting a phenomenological style of sociology, this perspective avoids debates over truth and falsehood, regarding them as the domain of theology. Though believers are likely to regard such an approach as essentially reductionist in its dependence upon historical, sociological, or psychological explanations, it does possess the advantage of not advocating one religious tradition over against another. Having distinguished between devotees and analysts, one should not, however, ignore devotees who engage in scholarly reflection upon their own tradition. This church, in particular, includes many educated and informed individuals for whom such a reflexive approach is valuable, offering the possibility of new levels of understanding and an opportunity to be creatively involved in the ongoing interpretation and development of their tradition. Their insights offer potential gain for non-Mormon scholars, just as Mormon thinkers may, sometimes, find externally sourced scholarship entering into their own understanding. Such permeability of interpretations in today’s world warns against any overly rigid notion of ‘‘invented traditions.’’ Leaving these more complex issues aside, it suffices to say that, in sociological terms, each human society, group, or institution is socially constructed as people’s meaning-making nature is manifest, whether in slow, pragmatic responses to natural and cultural environments or in rapid, creative arcs of insight perceived as revelation through particular individuals. In terms of the phenomenology of religion, such proclamations come with a kind of conceptual ‘‘shock,’’ surprise, and amazement, causing a reappraisal of life and fostering its redirection, as when Joseph Smith introduced the idea of plural marriage as an institution that would be related to eternal, heavenly families that would partake of a divine nature. In societies where texts have held significant status, such revelations may take expression as sacred scripture, as when early Christianity established new scriptures as a continuation of the texts of Judaism; in due course, Mormonism did much the same. Classifying change: Reformation and Restoration Just how groups engage with times of change and define themselves in the midst of it is inordinately complex, as is the way scholars also classify those 1

Hobsbawm and Ranger, Invention of Tradition.

The invention of sacred tradition: Mormonism

59

forms of change. Was Christianity, for example, a Jewish sect or a new revelation? Was the Protestant ‘‘Reformation’’ revelation-like or something different? And is Mormonism a sect of Christianity, a Reformation, or, as it calls itself, a Restoration? The Mormon option, originating in the doubt and conversion experience of its founding prophet, was clear: all other churches had failed and a new start was needed. But, and this is crucial, many essential facts behind those failed churches were retained at the point of Mormonism’s origin, namely the belief in an essentially Christian deity, in Christian notions of sin, repentance, forgiveness, and in the worth of the Bible, including its ancient Jewish tradition. The invention of tradition becomes a renegotiation of these elements and a setting of them in a new direction under local cultural influences through the creative genius of leaders. Just how that renegotiation takes place is, itself, of prime importance for any consideration of ‘‘invented traditions.’’ One non-Mormon case that presents another option to the ‘‘new start’’ approach is afforded by emergent Anglicanism’s version of dealing with a problematic religious world, that of Catholicism versus Protestant Reformation. In the Church of England’s Book of Common Prayer, part of whose Preface is entitled ‘‘Of Ceremonies, why some be abolished, and some retained,’’ we find one of the clearest historical expressions of reflexive religious awareness of change and tradition. This text dwells upon ceremonies that ‘‘had their beginning by the institution of man . . . [and] were of godly intent and purpose devised, and yet at length turned to vanity and superstition.’’ But this theory of truth attrition over time is also set against those contemporary individuals who were ‘‘so new-fangled, that they would innovate all things, and so despise the old.’’ The desire seems to have been to acknowledge the human base of ceremonies and their capacity for corruption while not abandoning all for novelty. It is easy to see here the roots of the characteristic Anglican method of interplaying scripture, tradition, and reason.This example shows just how strongly contextual is any group’s self-analysis in respect of identity and its sense of direction. Nineteenth-century Mormonism’s emergence upon America’s complex but largely Protestant religious scene saw it arrive replete with its own text, the Book of Mormon, developing a corpus of ongoing revelations in the Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price, and with an incipient organizational structure working on the base of being a ‘‘church’’ with ordained leaders. All of these developed in relation and response to other religious traditions and the circumstances that soon beset the growing Mormon community. From a traditional Mormon perspective, however, this church birth and growth were ‘‘a marvelous work and a wonder’’

60

DOUGLAS J. DAVIES

wrought by God in restoring ancient verities and rites through revelations to the youthful Joseph Smith, who had been confused by the many churches purporting to hold the truth. FORMS OF INVENTION

Though it may appear conceptually viable to distinguish between naturally accumulating traditions, more self-consciously explicit reformulations, and a direct sense of new revelations, this is not always easy in practice. Hobsbawm’s catalytic work on this theme of ‘‘invented, constructed,’’ or ‘‘formally instituted’’ traditions, as sensitive as it was to the ‘‘tentative manner’’ appropriate to ‘‘a relatively new subject’’ engaging largely with historical and political changes within Britain and its Empire, demands even greater sensitivity when focused explicitly on religious institutions.2 Following his advocacy of interdisciplinarity, including anthropology, this chapter illustrates some of these additional complexities by approaching invented traditions in sections on their ideological, textual, and ritual forms. Ideological forms, ‘‘coming forth’’ Central to contemporary Mormon life is an ideological innovation called the Plan of Salvation. While constructed from some preexisting Christian elements, its formulation, its use in ritual and especially its mode of origin set it apart as distinctively Mormon. Rather than simply describing its content, I present it here by means of a Mormon notion of its origin, expressed in a phrase – ‘‘coming forth’’ – that captures that vision of the church’s nature formally identified as ‘‘Restoration.’’ That which ‘‘comes forth’’ is neither novel nor an invention of ‘‘man,’’ but rather comes from somewhere and for some intentional purpose. Indeed, the explanation of its ‘‘coming forth’’ brings with it an entire theory of reality: of time (divided into pre-mortal, mortal, and eternal), space (occupied by matter at different levels of density), and of the identity and actions of individuals and communities (related to agency, potential, and obedience). This frame for understanding the meaning of existence extends from pre-mortality, through our mortal life, and into the domain of eternity after death, judgment, and resurrection into various levels of heavens, each with its potential for future enhancement and personal development. It describes a council in heaven, telling how divine ‘‘personages’’ 2

Hobsbawm, ‘‘Mass-Producing Traditions,’’ p. 303.

The invention of sacred tradition: Mormonism

61

(itself an important LDS category) helped organize (rather than create: Abraham 4:4) the world, and engage with it to bring about the salvation and exaltation (a key LDS innovation) of humanity. But ‘‘coming forth’’ also embraces another narrative explanation of divinely infused events from the time of Adam and Eve, of prophets such as Moses, Elijah, and Ezekiel, and of Jesus and his immediate disciples, for, shortly after the time of Jesus, human disobedience caused an apostasy (another basic LDS category). This led God to reclaim vital truths and rites from the earth, including those that had originally been given to Adam in Eden. The world, including other religions and churches, would have to exist as best they might until these vital phenomena were caused to ‘‘come forth’’ again by God in the Restoration to Joseph Smith, including the priesthoods of Aaron and Melchizedek (into which worthy – a specific LDS moral category – males would be ordained), and the temple rites of endowment, sealing, and marriage for all eternity. This Restoration gives the LDS believer access to a panorama that sets notions of ‘‘time’’ and ‘‘mortality’’ within the ever-expanding ‘‘celestial kingdoms’’ of ‘‘eternity,’’ offering potential converts more than the sum of preexisting Christian parts of Bible, doctrine, and church practice. Selfconsciously, it set itself apart from the Protestant Reformation while also attaching a degree of significance to the Reformers as ‘‘inspired men’’ engaged in what was ‘‘a preparation for the more complete restoration of the gospel that commenced with Joseph Smith,’’ who is, himself, not ‘‘a successor to the reformers in the sense of building on their teachings.’’3 This exemplifies how, in invented traditions, a group may employ key positive elements of a background culture to validate itself as already noted for Anglicanism. Sociologically speaking, the Mormon account of religious history and life’s meaning operates through just such a complex process of a validation, yielding more than the sum of its parts. The Protestant Reformers may have been inspired, but Joseph gained actual revelations. Similarly, the Plan of Salvation so explains religious history that it validates the Bible and employs a biblical grammar of discourse in the development of its own sacred texts. This is one characteristic process of invention of tradition, and echoes the development of Christianity from preexisting Judaism. The Mormon case includes fundamental Christian conceptual building-blocks including prophet, priesthood, temple, disobedience, repentance, faith, baptism, and salvation. While this theological treasury as a ‘‘pool of potential orientations’’ is invaluable to potential converts with prior experience of Christian culture, and was of distinct importance in the 3

Jensen, ‘‘Protestant Reformation,’’ p. 1173.

DOUGLAS J. DAVIES

62

nineteenth century, it is currently problematic in many parts of contemporary secular Europe.4 Missionaries cannot set their discussion of Mormonism’s truth over and against ideas familiar to people from their parent denominations. TEXTUAL FORMS: FROM BIBLE TO STANDARD WORKS

The Bible, as one point of Christian reference, is not, however, the only sacred text of Mormons, who also designate The Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price as their Standard Works. Together these volumes achieve the very particular goal of creating a wide universe of meaning presented as ‘‘history’’ and help create a community grounded in narratives that, in a non-Mormon technical perspective, merge mythical stories with actual occurrences. They create, in experience, a worldview linking supernatural and natural domains, which comes to sharpest focus in the life of Joseph Smith, who certainly existed and created an enduring church, but did so on the basis of accounts of revelations and divine and angelic visitations. Early followers accepted this mix of the day in which they lived, the leader they knew, and the supernatural dynamics of the texts for which he was responsible. The Book of Mormon came to validate ‘‘time’’ as understood in LDS terms, or, as one might generally say, a this-worldly history. It offered this as a kind of salvation history extending from ancient Israel and migrations to the Americas, and the rise and fall of groups there, including Native American populations. These texts tell of records kept by ancient prophets on metal plates that were hidden until God directed the young man Joseph Smith to find and ‘‘translate’’ them as the Book of Mormon. The Doctrine and Covenants, recording revelations given to and through Joseph Smith by God, then extended to Joseph’s day the divine revelations and encounters that were normative in ancient times, with the Pearl of Great Price further reinforcing that interaction. Book of Mormon stories are similar in narrative form and basic themes to the biblical accounts of prophetic calls for obedience among a rebellious and sinful people. Numerous chapters of Mormonism’s Standard Works match biblical passages, with the English itself being in the style of the King James Version, a translation strongly preferred by LDS, probably because its tone offers an implicit authenticity, having become that of many Mormon texts, historical utterances, and sermons. 4

Davies, Mormon Culture, p. 247.

The invention of sacred tradition: Mormonism

63

Just as the Book of Mormon tells of the past, so the Doctrine and Covenants tells how God so recently restored truths, organization, and rites through Joseph, with the Pearl of Great Price clarifying further the Plan of Salvation (Moses 6:62). A passionate work, it reveals the anguish of the figure of Enoch because of human sins, when ‘‘all eternity shook’’ and even the earth itself – ‘‘the mother of men’’ – mourned (Moses 7:41, 49). It comprises the ‘‘Book of Moses’’ and the ‘‘Book of Abraham,’’ which together reflect the Old Testament as an established Christian text. What is now entitled ‘‘Joseph Smith – Matthew,’’ and described as part of chapters 23 and 24 of Matthew’s Gospel ‘‘as revealed to Joseph Smith the Prophet in 1831,’’ then speaks of the future coming of Christ and the judgment of the world. This is followed by a section entitled ‘‘Joseph Smith – History,’’ consisting of some seventy-five long verses that give an account of Joseph’s own family history, the religious revivalism and personal confusion out of which he sought help from God, and, after a sense of encounter with a profoundly personified form of evil, his being visited by divine personages and subsequently by angelic personages. These told of hidden metal records and announced the proper time ‘‘for the bringing them forth’’ (verse 53). This text describes how Joseph Smith’s assistant Martin Harris took copies of hieroglyphics drawn by Joseph from these plates to one Professor Anthon in New York, who certified ‘‘that they were true characters.’’ But there then follows an account that is instructive as far as invented traditions are concerned, for Anthon, having provided a validating certificate asserting that Smith’s translation of these characters ‘‘was correct, more so than he had before seen translated from the Egyptian,’’ tore it up on learning from Harris that Joseph had gained the metal plates from an angel, saying that ‘‘there was no such thing now as ministering of angels’’ (verse 64). This cluster of events concerning divine and human forms of validation and the criteria of judgment involved with each also reveals the human hostility to the Restoration. This event highlights the fact of sheer circumstance, for it was in 1835 that one Michael Chandler toured with his exhibits of Egyptian mummies and papyri and caught Joseph Smith’s attention, catalyzing what I have called Smith’s ‘‘new orientalism.’’5 His longstanding concern with biblical accounts of the Holy Land, reflected in the migrations already alluded to in the Book of Mormon, now takes a new direction after his contact with items of ancient Egypt’s material culture. This period is aligned with a

5

Davies, Introduction, p. 22.

64

DOUGLAS J. DAVIES

desire to learn Hebrew,6 and resembles the later creativity that followed Joseph’s initiation into the mysteries of Freemasonry, discussed below. Together these demonstrate the important consequences for innovation following encounters with distinct symbolic domains. Regarding the esoteric, it is no accident that another early LDS figure, Wilford Woodruff, should give an account of a lasting impression made upon him by Egyptian mummies and also ‘‘the Book of Abram Written [sic] by his own hand,’’7 not least because he encountered them within the Mormon Temple at Kirtland in 1836. Bringing such a collection of items within a temple can be interpreted as uniting early Mormonism’s cosmic Plan of Salvation with its sense of the ancient history of this world, all as part of the newly Restored truth of text and rite. While more abstract influences on Mormonism, originating in European Hermeticism, have been extensively argued by John Brooke,8 even this more limited composite picture of actual archaeological artifacts, with the discovered metal plates and divine visitations to Joseph, shows the complexity of Mormonism’s view of the past. To speak of tradition in this context is to speak of an attitude to past events believed to be symbolized in the present. ‘‘History’’ becomes a highly charged notion, since it ‘‘means’’ the Plan of Salvation restored in God’s good time and fully recorded. To record events in the world is to mark the acts of God, with close attention to records becoming a characteristic Mormon attribute. So much is this the case that, as we have already noted, the text ‘‘Joseph Smith – History’’ is contained in the Pearl of Great Price. In the volume most Mormons possess, it is located between a text from St. Matthew’s Gospel and the Articles of Faith of the Church. It is, in fact, an excerpt (chapters 1–5) from the more extensive History of the Church. In this text a biographical account of Joseph’s family life interplays with his conversion and accounts of visitations from supernatural ‘‘personages.’’ To believing saints, this text will resemble the many accounts within the Book of Mormon in which divine and human actors engage with one another. But, of course, such accounts are, quite literally, credible only to those who believe and, precisely because of that, would not take the form of ‘‘historical’’ accounts of the past prepared by secular historians. In other words, it is the very nature of the ‘‘events’’ that are recorded that becomes problematic for non-Mormon historians, or for Mormon historians following academic conventions that are essentially secular; to this we return below. 6 8

Brooke, Refiner’s Fire, pp. 211–13. Brooke, Refiner’s Fire.

7

Woodruff, Waiting for the World’s End, p. 8.

The invention of sacred tradition: Mormonism

65

RITUAL FORMS

Having identified the ‘‘coming forth’’ of the Plan of Salvation with the Restoration that was Mormonism, we are now in a position to shift from the more ideological and textual aspects of invented tradition to the pragmatic domain present in ritual and its material culture. Here Mormonism has numerous potential examples to offer, of which we consider only two, namely Endowments and baptism for the dead. Endowments Endowments, the core ritual of Mormonism, must stand at the heart of any discussion of LDS-invented tradition. In anthropological terms, Endowment constitutes the major rite of passage into a distinctive status, one that differentiates what may be called ‘‘temple Mormons’’ from ‘‘chapel Mormons,’’ those dedicated people who engage in temple ritual and are committed to the theology driving it, and those involved only in local Mormon chapel or ‘‘ward’’ life but not in temples. This theological innovation of Endowment can be focused in a singe word, ‘‘sealing,’’ a term that is introduced in the Book of Mormon as an alternative to ‘‘binding’’ in biblical texts that describe how Jesus gave Peter power to ‘‘bind’’ things on earth that would, henceforth, be ‘‘bound’’ in heaven. ‘‘Sealing’’ as a word comes to function as a condensed symbol within Mormonism, uniting layered depths of meaning within itself. Buerger sees the strength of its significance as lying in a combination of two factors. First, where ‘‘sealing’’ is used in the Bible, it refers to an act of God, whereas in the novel LDS context it becomes an action of man. Second, some time in 1831, Joseph Smith, perhaps in response to concerns of his assistant Sydney Rigdon, received a revelation that introduced the ‘‘innovation’’ of the high priesthood. As Buerger expressed it: In November 1831 these various concepts came together in a priesthood ritual allowing one to ‘‘seal (people) up unto eternal life’’ (Doctrine and Covenants 68:2, 12: see also 1:8–9). Thus Mormon priesthood bearers themselves could perform a ritual paralleling what a strict Calvinist, for example, reserved solely to God. This can be seen as one precursor to the endowment ceremony which would eventually be performed in the Kirtland temple.9

It was at a critical and inaugural washing, anointing, and sealing event at the Kirtland Temple in January 1836 that Joseph and others sealed his 9

Buerger, Mysteries of Godliness, pp. 4–5.

66

DOUGLAS J. DAVIES

father as Patriarch of the Church and was then sealed by his father and others present. It was also then that he received a vision of ‘‘the celestial kingdom of God’’ with all its wonder and glory; ‘‘God and his Son upon the throne . . . father Adam, and Abraham and Michael,’’ and along with them his own father (still alive and in the same room as him at the time), his still-living mother, and the long-dead brother, Alvin, to whom we return below in a crucial discussion of baptism for the dead. Suffice it to say here that Alvin’s appearance in a vision at one creative moment of Joseph’s thought may well have been the crucial precursor for a later innovation of considerable subsequent consequence. While space forbids a detailed description of the development of these Endowment rites in association with later rites of washing with water and anointing with oil, it is important to note the influence of Freemasonry upon the fuller development of Endowment rites, which incorporate verbal vows and covenants aligned with secret hand and body clasps and the development of special temple clothing; Joseph Smith became a Mason in March 1842. To some critics of Mormonism who deploy obvious similarities that indicate direct borrowing, this period in Joseph’s life offers sharp evidence to dispel any special or revelatory nature of the temple rites. From a conservative LDS perspective, however, a different picture emerges, grounded in a different rationale that argues that God had revealed certain rites to humanity when in its infancy in Eden, rites that had been forgotten and attenuated over time but which had been retained in Masonry. Accordingly, far from Mormons borrowing their rites from Masons, the real truth is that Masons possess only a pale shadow of the true rites, rites that God restored in their fullness through Joseph Smith. It is Restoration, not innovation, that prevails. Here one can only note that while Masonry was itself a classic form of invented tradition, its influence on Mormonism was grounded in quite a different sense of its authenticity and origin. Whatever is the case, Endowment rites developed in, quite literally, a dramatic fashion as part of a complex of educational induction combined with ritual initiation, involving actors who portrayed scenes from the Plan of Salvation. Indeed, the temple became a site for sacred drama, in which the initiates also came to participate as they learned of the heavenly council that ponders the ordering of the world, of the first man and woman, of their disobedience, fall, and redemption, of the wiles of the world, including the untruths of other churches, of the Restoration, and of their own participation in all of this through the vows and covenants they make. The men passed through a literal veil in the temple, being embraced and accepted by a divine figure before serving as that figure to receive their

The invention of sacred tradition: Mormonism

67

wives in a similar way. Together they enter a literal ‘‘celestial room’’ that symbolizes the ultimate celestial kingdom of God. Sealing in temple marriage, along with the sealing of children to their parents, is aligned with these Endowments so as to create heavenly families. Baptism for the dead Family members who died before encountering the Restoration are not forgotten; indeed, the ritual that incorporates the genealogical line into the celestial kinship of what I have elsewhere described as the ‘‘soteriological lineage’’ affords our next example of pragmatic invention, that of baptism for the dead.10 This basic rite is integrally bound up with the extensive practice of genealogy, for today’s Mormon family is encouraged to engage in genealogical research on the basis of which living family members are baptized on behalf of named, dead kinsmen or women. This takes place in a special baptismal font in the temple, and not in the local church’s baptismal font, which is restricted to the initial baptism of the living. It is constructed for baptism by total immersion and stands on the backs of twelve oxen. The symbolic rationale for this construction is that there was a washing structure in ancient Jewish temples and that the oxen also represent the twelve tribes of Israel. This latter fact is, in turn, related to another Mormon innovation, that of the patriarchal blessing, in which a specially designated ‘patriarch’, reflected earlier when Joseph’s father was made first Patriarch, lays hands on a candidate’s head and, by direct inspiration of the Holy Spirit, speaks words of encouragement and, some would say, of life direction. Clear records of this blessing are kept, and the event and document are regarded as very special. Traditionally, this also included a statement about which of the twelve tribes of Israel that person belonged to, or from which he or she had descended. That factor was itself grounded in the once familiar wider Christian notion of the dispersal of the tribes of Israel and their association with Europe and, through migrations to America, also with that land. This series of notions, from Jewish temple to Mormon temple and Israelite lineage, reflects a transformation of ideas and their incorporation into new Mormon rites. To them is brought accurate, computerized, record-keeping. Once the vicarious baptism has taken place, it is believed that the discarnate spirits of the ‘‘dead’’ from within their post-mortem domain of departed spirits have the option, guaranteed through the Mormon 10

Davies, Mormon Culture, pp. 146–52.

68

DOUGLAS J. DAVIES

emphasis upon one’s ‘‘agency,’’ of taking upon themselves all the benefits of accepting the Mormon message of the Restoration. But, for that to take place, yet further vicarious ritual is required on their behalf because of the development of another Mormon idea, namely that a formal rite must take place within an appropriate sacred place on earth before its ultimate consequences can be operative in the eternal world. This applies to rites of ordination, marriage, and, crucially, of Endowments; indeed any rite open to the living is also open to the dead through their living kin or others authorized by the church. While genealogical research has, for example, become widespread in contemporary Society as a leisure and retirement activity, the distinctive Mormon feature lies in its necessity, as a basis for these eternal salvation advantages, of what Mormons call ‘‘exaltation.’’ This linking of genealogical research with a ritual of salvation is one of the prime innovations of Mormonism, though with clear echoes of Catholic Christianity’s stress on the necessity of baptism for salvation. It would be perfectly reasonable to take this as a distinctive example of an invented tradition, bearing Hobsbawm’s criteria in mind, namely that we are dealing with a symbolic ritual, rule-based and repetitive in nature, inculcating behavioral values, that ‘‘automatically implies continuity with the past.’’11 It is certainly a highly symbolic activity, vastly repetitive, since there are many ancestors needing baptism; it fosters behavioral values in that the living need to gain a certificate from their local church leader to show that they are ethically worthy to attend the temple. The way in which it ‘‘implies continuity with the past’’ could hardly be stronger, through both the Old Testament symbolic allusions and the psychological attitudes fostered toward believers’ own particular ancestors. It is not uncommon, indeed it is part of ordinary Mormon folklore, for an individual to speak of the sense of connection they come to develop with some of the ancestors whose details they are pursuing genealogically. This can amount to a sense of their presence, not least in the temple, which is generally regarded as a meeting place between ‘‘time’’ and ‘‘eternity,’’ this world and the next, following the classic phenomenological identification of temples with the axis mundi. Modern Mormonism also allows baptism for those who are not kin, on the basis that church records of genealogy are now immense and extend well beyond the kin of actual church members. But what might we say about the origin of baptism for the dead? How did this tradition (for indeed it is now one of the determining features of life for dedicated Mormons) come about? This type of question is 11

Hobsbawm, ‘‘Introduction,’’ in Hobsbawm and Ranger, Invention of Tradition, p. 1.

The invention of sacred tradition: Mormonism

69

particularly important for invented traditions that have their source largely in one individual and for which individual creativity may have much to do with that person’s biography and psychology. Certainly, baptism for the dead was not part of the Book of Mormon, nor was it among the practices of the first ten years or so of the church’s life. According to formal Mormon statements, it was first announced by Joseph Smith in a funeral sermon of 1840, with its essential theme of the eternal possibilities of those who have died being strongly reinforced in perhaps the most famous of all Joseph Smith’s sermons, the King Follett discourse of 1844, itself a funeral sermon, only months before his own death. The obvious textual cue for this rite lies in a single biblical verse of St. Paul (1 Corinthians 15:29) which alludes to the fact that some are baptized on behalf of the dead. Paul uses that idea to reinforce his strong belief in the resurrection. In the Mormon case a revelation came to Joseph Smith in January 1841 (Doctrine and Covenants 124:30) in which the Lord instructs that a temple be built to contain a baptismal font that would firmly contextualize the practice that had initially taken place in rivers. By November of that same year the font existed, with vicarious rites taking place. My own interpretation of vicarious baptism, speculative as it is, focuses on Joseph Smith’s personal history of grief, especially that for his brother Alvin’s premature death, when Joseph was about eighteen years old. ‘‘Grief-stricken’’ is an entirely appropriate description of accounts of the family and of Joseph in response to Alvin’s death, itself some seven years before the formal inauguration of the church. As already documented above when discussing the emergence of sealing and of Endowment rites, some thirteen years after Alvin’s death Joseph received a vision in which he saw Alvin in heaven, despite the fact that he had died prior to the Restoration. When Joseph’s father was dying in 1840 he, too, reckoned to see Alvin. This suggests that moments of dying, death, and funerals recalled Alvin and Joseph’s grief, and helped frame Joseph’s vision of vicarious baptism, catalyzed by the biblical verse already mentioned.12 Joseph’s personal history of grief and his empathy with the grief of others brought that biblical text to new life as part of the Restoration. Far from being debilitated by his loss and grief, Joseph emerged able to do something about his brother’s death; indeed all Mormons could answer that once perennial Christian conundrum of what would happen in eternity to those who had never heard the Christian message. They could hear it and benefit from it, if only rites were performed for them on earth. Vicarious 12

Davies, Mormon Culture, pp. 86–92.

70

DOUGLAS J. DAVIES

baptism thus reflects the cluster of rites that constitute the prime rationale of Mormon ‘‘invented tradition’’ namely that nothing is achieved in the heavens apart from a ritual action underlying them on earth. HISTORY: IDEOLOGY, TEXT, AND RITE

Within these temple-based baptismal and Endowment rites, sustained by the sacred texts of the Standard Works and formal reflections upon them, Mormons participate ritually in what is presented as history. Ideological and textual aspects of the developing tradition are combined. Practical engagement makes real within people’s emotional lives and symbolic thought what otherwise might exist only as ‘‘story,’’ albeit powerful stories. From a social-scientific perspective, the temple rituals bring the mythical world into contemporary reality, and it is this, in practice, that makes it hard for some devoted saints to make any distinction between critical history and the mythical-theological narratives in which they have come to participate and find the purpose of their life. Beyond temples, similar integrations occur and motivations arise, in anniversary re-enactments of handcart treks or sea migrations or, more frequently, in Mormon pageants portraying Book of Mormon texts.13 All these have the tendency to merge both sorts of ‘‘reality’’ in people’s minds. Such pageants are a kind of ‘‘invented tradition’’ and prompt questions of the emergent ritual grammar of religious understanding fostered by Mormonism. Apart from formal ritual or celebratory drama, other aspects of LDS folk culture cause aspects of ‘‘history’’ to be pervaded by theological belief. Just how scholars might classify these as stories, legends, myths, or history is a discussion of its own. Here I briefly mention three that, in different ways, bind ordinary saints to aspects of their past, their scriptures, and their supernaturally framed worldview. First, shortly after Joseph Smith’s death in 1844, some told (and they framed it more concretely with the passage of time) of the ‘‘day of the prophet’s mantle,’’ when Brigham Young ‘‘appeared’’ to be like Joseph in mannerism, voice, and stature, during a crucial speech over the leadership succession.14 This validated Young’s leadership role, one that proved very successful over time. Second is the tale of seagulls coming in answer to prayer and saving the first Salt Lake Valley harvest from locusts. This focuses many Mormon experiences of hardship in migration and settlement. The third form often links to moments of personal rather than community hardship or confusion, and 13

Davies, ‘‘Time, Place,’’ pp. 107–18.

14

Davies, Mormon Culture, pp. 170–2.

The invention of sacred tradition: Mormonism

71

evokes the distinctive LDS view of miraculous pervading of supernatural and natural realms. This tells of the three Nephites allowed by Jesus not to die until he came again (3 Nephi 28:1–10; Doctrine and Covenants 7:1–8). These wander the earth, appearing often as normal people but in extraordinary circumstances; having helped someone in difficulty, they vanish without trace. Such stories encourage some saints to read their own circumstances supernaturally and complement the biblical narratives that inform the idea that pioneer Mormons have entered a ‘‘promised land,’’ possessing prophetic leadership, sacred texts, and a priesthood, and having a temple to build. Later crises, whether with federal opposition over polygamy or in internal conflicts over doctrine, including attitudes to intellectualism as such, can foster different attitudes.15 In all this, ‘‘history’’ becomes potentially problematic. Apart from such folk-tales, it can assume an orthodox form and become a matter of faith, making any question of the invention of tradition as opposed to the restoration of old truth highly problematic. What is more, Mormonism’s commitment to the belief that God has many new things to reveal through his prophets also makes the secular notion of ‘‘invention’’ problematic for faith. The situation is made more complex still within Mormonism because of its longstanding commitment to the idea and ideals of education and the pursuit of ‘‘truth.’’ This led to academically gifted scholars emerging from strongly religious family and community backgrounds moving into graduate study at non-Mormon universities, and being trained in technical, ‘‘secular,’’ scholarship. For a period the church gave these people free rein within its own historical archives, but, with time, some problems emerged as their detailed critical history encountered problems, both of substance and of approach, with what can only be called the folk history of their tradition. So it was that the category of ‘‘faithful history’’ emerged, indicating the paradoxes present to those studying the past of a group that believed that God and angels met with men and women in the 1820s and that they occasionally still do.16 This means that ‘‘invented tradition’’ is both open and closed to scholarly analysis. This is no new problem, however, given mainstream Christianity’s established debates over critical textual study of the Bible and reinterpretations of foundational doctrines that prompted its own forms of liberalism, conservatism, and fundamentalism. The longer history of Christendom has simply allowed great variation of interpretation of these textual matters, whereas, in Mormonism, they remain more 15

Mauss, Angel and the Beehive.

16

Smith, Faithful History.

72

DOUGLAS J. DAVIES

immediately pressing. Here it could be noted, following Hobsbawm’s point that ‘‘all invented traditions use history as a legitimating of action,’’17 that most established Christian churches do possess their own accounts of history that justify their contemporary situation. The Mormon case, including its own ‘‘ritualization of history,’’ is simply more recent, specific, and debatable.18 World religion But it is not only the past that may involve invention of tradition, for the future can also present new opportunities to define realities afresh, as in the contemporary debate over whether Mormonism should be described as a ‘‘world religion.’’ This argument has its roots in various attempts at classifying the nature of Mormonism as a tradition similar to or different from its American religious origin,19 and was revitalized in 1984 when sociologist Rodney Stark argued that Mormonism was set on a path to become the next ‘‘world religion’’ after Islam on the basis of its growth rates.20 Church leaders did not ignore this academic debate, and have dwelt upon it as part of their own self-definition and as a means of considering future organization and planning.21 Indeed, the issue has come to be something of a focal point of Mormon identity, with, for example, one part of a major conference hosted at Washington’s Library of Congress in May 2005 (the bicentennial anniversary of Joseph Smith’s birth) being devoted to it,22 including my own definition and distinction between global religion and world religion.23 The important factor for our discussion lies in the significance attributed to titles, particularly to the status that some church leaders associate with being a ‘‘world religion.’’ Paradoxically, leaders wish to assert the Christian identity of Mormonism while also differentiating the church from other Christian churches. The status of sharing the description of being Christian is desired, but does not extend to a sharing in the identity of other churches. Such an engagement with names, attributes, and identities affords clear evidence of the complex consequences involved in the ‘‘invention of sacred tradition’’ from a social-scientific perspective. The very ‘‘eventfulness’’ of a phenomenon such as the Library of Congress conference marks a distinctive step in the 17 18 20 22

Hobsbawm, ‘‘Introduction,’’ in Hobsbawm and Ranger, Invention of Tradition, p. 12. Bitton, Ritualization, pp. 171–87. 19 Shipps, ‘‘Joseph Smith,’’ pp. 293–305. Stark, ‘‘Rise’’; ‘‘Basis.’’ 21 LDS Almanac, 2001–2002: pp. 148–52. Welch, Worlds of Joseph Smith, Part 5, pp. 251–316. 23 Davies, ‘‘World Religion.’’

The invention of sacred tradition: Mormonism

73

facticity of the church: in terms of cultural acknowledgment it is far removed from the teenage Joseph Smith receiving rebuttal from respectable clergy of his day who damned his ‘‘treasure-finding’’ of golden plates. This cultural shift in recognition echoes something of the French anthropologist Marc Auge´’s notion, ‘‘the paradox of religion,’’ used to describe a situation ‘‘that would like its narrative development to suppress its mythical origin.’’24 This tight thought is entirely germane as far as the development of religions is concerned; its reference to ‘‘narrative development’’ raises both the obvious issue of the content of a narrative and the slightly less obvious feature of the passage of time. And time, in the sense of duration, is vital here, for the longer the passage of time from the point of origin, the greater the suppression of mythical factors and the greater the opportunity for discrete or contradictory fragments of narrative to be integrated. With time, too, increasing opportunities occur for the development of architecture such as temples or the impressive organization of a leadership bureaucracy. In all of this there is opportunity for the ‘‘mythical’’ to be replaced by the ‘‘true.’’ Time also allows for increased integration of clusters of potentially distinct ideas within a movement to yield a standardization of thought and indeed of religious expression, as, for example, in the prayers used by key leaders when dedicating new temples,25 or the production of a major Encyclopedia of Mormonism, which, in its own way, even formalizes religious phrases such as ‘‘Buffetings of Satan’’ and gives them a formal theological meaning.26 Generation after generation increasingly encounters concrete expressions of once nonexistent elements as ideas become manifest, built upon, and acted upon. In all of this, contemporary believers relate to the past in ever-changing ways. REFERENCES

Auge´, Marc, Oblivion, trans. Marjolijn de Jager (Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 2004 [1998]). Bitton, Davis, The Ritualization of Mormon History and Other Essays (Urbana and Chicago, IL: University of Illinois Press, 1994). Brooke, John L., The Refiner’s Fire: The Making of Mormon Cosmology, 1644–1844 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994). Brown, Samuel, ‘‘A Sacred Code: Mormon Temple Dedication Prayers, 1836–2000,’’ Journal of Mormon History 32/2 (2006), pp. 173–96. Buerger, David J., The Mysteries of Godliness: A History of Mormon Temple Worship (San Francisco, CA: Smith Research Associates, 1994). 24

Auge´, Oblivion, p. 50.

25

Brown, ‘‘Sacred Code.’’

26

Flake, ‘‘Buffetings,’’ pp. 236–7.

74

DOUGLAS J. DAVIES

Davies, Douglas J., An Introduction to Mormonism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003). The Mormon Culture of Salvation (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2000). Mormon Spirituality: Latter Day Saints in Wales and Zion (Logan, UT: Utah State University press, 1987). ‘‘Time, Place and Mormon Sense of Self,’’ in Simon Coleman and Peter Collins (eds.), Religion, Identity and Change (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2004). ‘‘World Religion: Dynamics and Constraint,’’ in Welch, pp. 253–70. Flake, Dennis D., ‘‘Buffetings of Satan,’’ in Ludlow, Encyclopedia of Mormonism, I, pp. 236–7. Hobsbawm, Eric, ‘‘Mass-Producing Traditions,’’ in Hobsbawm and Ranger, Invention of Tradition, pp. 263–307. Hobsbawm, Eric, and Terence O. Ranger, The Invention of Tradition (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983). Jensen, De Lamar, ‘‘The Protestant Reformation’’ in Ludlow, Encyclopedia of Mormonism, III, pp. 1171–2. LDS Almanac, 2001–2002 (Salt Lake City, UT: Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Ludlow, Daniel H. Encyclopedia of Mormonism, 4 vols. (New York: Macmillan, 1992). Mauss, Armand L. The Angel and the Beehive: The Mormon Struggle with Assimilation (Urbana and Chicago, IL: University of Illinois Press, 1994). Shipps, Jan, ‘‘Joseph Smith and the Making of a Global Religion,’’ in Welch, Worlds of Joseph Smith, pp. 293–305. Smith, George D. (ed.), Faithful History (Salt Lake City, UT: Signature Books, 1992). Stark, Rodney, ‘‘The Basis of Mormon Success: A Theoretical Application,’’ in James T. Duke (ed.), Latter-Day Saint Social Life (Salt Lake City, UT: Bookcraft, 1998). ‘‘The Rise of a New World Faith,’’ Review of Religious Research 26 (1984), pp. 18–27. Welch, John W. (ed.), The Words of Joseph Smith (Provo, UT: Brigham Young University Press, 2006). Woodruff, Wilford, Waiting for the Word’s End: The Diaries of Wilford Woodruff, ed. Susan Stalker (Salt Lake City, UT: Signature Books, 1993).

CHAPTER

4

Antisemitism, conspiracy culture, Christianity, and Islam: the history and contemporary religious significance of the Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion Christopher Partridge and Ron Geaves

‘‘One of the most important forgeries of modern times.’’1 In 1939 the French scholar of antisemitism, Henri Rollin,2 concluded that the Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion was probably the most widely distributed book in the world after the Bible. Indeed, there are few languages, including Hebrew, into which it has not been translated. Moreover, ‘‘its distribution was accompanied by a mountain of secondary literature comprising well more than one thousand titles.’’3 The Protocols is, as Norman Cohn has argued, ‘‘the supreme expression and vehicle of the myth of the Jewish world-conspiracy.’’4 Pretending to be lectures, or notes of lectures, taken during twenty-four sessions of a congress held by representatives of ‘‘the twelve tribes of Israel,’’ the Elders of Zion, led by a Grand Rabbi – whom a later edition claimed to be the founder of modern Zionism, Theodore Herzl5 – it sets out a plot to take over the world and to subjugate gentiles. While not easy to summarize, the standard version of the Protocols expounds three principal themes: a critique of liberalism, an exposition of the methods by which Jews intend to take over the world, and an overview of the world government that the Elders of Zion intend to establish.

1 2 3 5

Levy, ‘‘Introduction,’’ p. 3. On Rollin’s analysis of the Protocols, see Ben-Itto, The Lie That Wouldn’t Die, pp. 185ff. Bronner, Rumor About the Jews, p. 2. 4 Cohn, Warrant for Genocide, p. 16. The Protocols were, according to Sergei Nilus (whose longer 1905 edition most contemporary versions are based on), disclosed to the Elders by Herzl ‘‘at the time of the Zionist Congress in Basel (August 1897)’’ (quoted in Segel, A Lie and a Libel, p. 72). However, not only is there no historical evidence of a connection between Herzl, Basel, the Zionist Congress, and the Protocols, but, as Segal observes, Nilus claimed this only in the 1917 edition of the Protocols. The claim is not made in earlier versions of the document.

75

76

CHRISTOPHER PARTRIDGE AND RON GEAVES

The work is ‘‘a slapdash patchwork composed of several earlier, unrelated writings’’6 constructed as the Protocols by the Okhrana (the czarist secret police) and published in Russian newspapers during 1903 in order to strengthen the position of Nicholas II. However, while one might have expected such an obvious and ludicrous forgery to have quickly lost credibility, its combination of the twin motifs of conspiracy and antisemitism quickly found eager believers and translators. Not only was it responsible for some of the twentieth century’s most virulent antisemitism, including the murders of innumerable Jews, but it has become almost de rigueur within far-right Christian subcultures and, increasingly, within certain streams of Islam.7 As Michael Barkun recently noted, not only has its dissemination continued despite its unmasking as a forgery, but in 2002, in the face of international protests, ‘‘television stations throughout the Arab world broadcast a forty-one-part Egyptian series in which the Protocols was prominently featured.’’8 Indeed, a generation earlier, during the conflict with Israel, Egypt’s President Nasser publicly supported the text.9 Others have, likewise, found an extraordinary willingness within some sections of the contemporary Islamic community to believe the contents of the Protocols. For example, Kenneth Timmerman, who was granted an interview with some radical Islamic clerics in Syria, Jordan, and the Gaza, recalls Abraham Cooper of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles suggesting that he raise the question of the veracity of the Protocols. ‘‘I thought he was joking. ‘Just ask the question,’ Rabbi Cooper insisted. ‘See what they say.’’’ The results, he records, ‘‘were stunning.’’ Not only did every one of the people I asked believe in the antisemitic lies put forward in the Protocols, some offered to pull out their own copy just to show me that it was real. None questioned the authenticity of the Protocols, which they claimed to be the actual minutes of conspiratorial meetings of Jewish leaders. Most offered up their own anecdotes as proof that ‘‘world Jewry’’ had a plot to dominate the world and destroy Islam.10

It is little surprise, therefore, that Hadassa Ben-Itto discovered that the Protocols is currently ‘‘sold in bookstores in Arab capitals.’’11 Of course, Christianity has been no less willing to embrace the forgery. As well as some far-right Christian organizations, such as Gerald Winrod’s Defenders of 6 7

8 10

Levy, ‘‘Introduction,’’ p. 3. For a good discussion of the relationship of the Protocols to contemporary antisemitism, see Bronner, Rumor About the Jews, pp. 129–54. 9 Barkun, Culture of Conspiracy, pp. 4–5. See Cohn, Warrant for Genocide, p. 19. Timmerman, Preachers of Hate, pp. 1–2. 11 Ben-Itto, The Lie That Wouldn’t Die, p. xx.

Antisemitism, conspiracy culture, Christianity, Islam

77

the Christian Faith,12 ‘‘the debates of the Vatican Council on the attitude to be adopted toward Jews stimulated a spate of antisemitic propaganda from Spain, including a new edition of the Protocols with abundant commentaries’’13 – Sabios de Sion: Protocolos (1963). SATAN, THE ANTICHRIST, THE ILLUMINATI, AND THE JEWISH WORLD CONSPIRACY

In their outstanding analyses of the Protocols and the myth of the Jewish world conspiracy, Stephen Bronner, Cohn, and Ben-Itto have traced several lines of antisemitic thought that eventually led to the compilation of the forgery.14 There is, of course, not the space adequately to discuss this historical context. That said, because this background is so important for understanding both the Protocols and also some recent developments in antisemitic conspiracy culture, an overview is required. This can be done very briefly by looking at three overlapping themes: Satan, Devil worship, and the emergence of the Antichrist; the Jewish desire for world domination; and the Illuminati conspiracy. First, as is well documented, not only was hatred of the Jews widespread in medieval Europe,15 but rumors circulated about their allegiance to Satan. This is important, because as Cohn comments, ‘‘it is one of the achievements of the modern antisemitic movement that in the later nineteenth century it was able to revive this archaic superstition.’’16 In particular, 1868 saw the publication of Biarritz, a novel by Sir John Retcliffe (a pseudonym of the Prussian writer Hermann Goedsche), which would serve as the template for the Protocols. A chapter entitled ‘‘In the Jewish Cemetery in Prague’’ describes a secret nocturnal meeting during the Feast of Tabernacles. Over a period of an hour, thirteen Jews enter the cemetery one by one, mutter a prayer, and kneel beside a grave, the last Jew kneeling as the clock strikes midnight. ‘‘From the grave there comes a sharp, metallic sound. A blue flame appears and lights up the thirteen kneeling figures. A hollow voice says, ‘I greet you, heads of the twelve tribes of Israel.’ [The thirteenth member represents ‘‘the unfortunates and the exiles.’’] It is the Devil speaking; and the figures dutifully reply: ‘We greet you, son of the accursed.’ ’’17 What transpires in this meeting between leading Jews and 12 13 14 15

See Kaplan and Weinberg, Emergence, pp. 32ff.; Levy, ‘‘Introduction,’’ pp. 37ff. Cohn, Warrant for Genocide, p. 19. Cohn, Warrant for Genocide; Bronner, Rumor About the Jews; Ben-Itto, The Lie That Wouldn’t Die. See Ku¨ng, Judaism, pp. 163–71. 16 Cohn, Warrant for Genocide, p. 41. 17 Ibid., p. 34.

78

CHRISTOPHER PARTRIDGE AND RON GEAVES

Satan is a plot to take over the world, each of the leaders in turn reporting what they have observed, what progress has been made toward this goal, and what further plans they have. Finally, Satan manifests himself as a hideous golden calf, and the gathering disperses into the night. Closely following the publication of this volume there appeared ‘‘the Bible of modern antisemitism,’’ Gougenot des Mousseaux’s Le Juif, le juda¨ısme et la juda¨ısation des peoples chre´tiens (1869). In this work, as Cohn says, ‘‘Satan bulks large indeed, for the author is convinced that the world is falling into the grip of a mysterious body of Satan-worshippers, whom he calls ‘kabbalistic Jews.’’’18 More particularly, the principal concern of des Mousseaux is to expose the Antichrist, who he believed would be Jewish. Secondly, as well as the stream of antisemitic thought which emphasized the relationship between the Jews, Satan, and the Antichrist, there were those who simply focused on the global political plans of the Jews. Indeed, more significant than the above texts was a pamphlet published seven years later, entitled In the Jewish Cemetery in Czech Prague, which, although clearly lifted from Biarritz, was presented as a factual report.19 The various speeches of the leaders of the twelve tribes concerning their efforts to gain world domination were brought together into a single speech by a Chief Rabbi addressing a secret meeting of Jews. This speech eventually evolved into a notorious antisemitic text known as The Rabbi’s Speech,20 which was, in turn, to become an important influence on the Protocols. Equally significant in this regard was the work of Millinger, a frequently arrested criminal who preferred the names Osman Bey or Kibridli Zade. To some extent, Osman Bey was a career antisemite in that he simply sought to make a living out of producing tales of Jewish corruption and ritual murder. However, more significantly, he wrote an influential antisemitic volume entitled World Conquest by the Jews, which sets out a thesis similar to that expounded in the Protocols. Popular within the antisemitism of the period was the belief that the Alliance Israe´lite Universelle, a Jewish philanthropic organization founded in Paris in 1860, was a fac¸ade for secret societies planning world domination. This theory can be traced back to a work entitled Jewish Fraternities, Local and Universal (1868) by Jacob Brafmann, a Russian Jew who converted to Orthodoxy. Although similar in some respects to the theories of 18 19

20

Ibid., p. 41. Cited from Karsh, Rethinking, in , accessed December 27, 2005. For the English translation of The Rabbi’s Speech, see Cohn, Warrant for Genocide, pp. 269–74.

Antisemitism, conspiracy culture, Christianity, Islam

79

Goedsche and des Mousseaux, Brafmann’s theories focused on a secret global movement which was masquerading as actual Jewish philanthropic societies. One of these, the Alliance Israe´lite Universelle – which, in reality, was simply concerned to help persecuted and starving Jews in France, Russia, and Romania – he identified as the principal organ of global corruption: ‘‘the net of the Jewish world-alliance is spread over the whole globe.’’21 These ideas were then developed by Hippolytus Lutostansky, a defrocked Roman Catholic priest who later converted to Orthodoxy. He not only attacked the Alliance Israe´lite Universelle in his three-volume work The Talmud and the Jews (1879–80), but also developed the super-conspiracy (a conspiracy theory that unites several conspiracy theories) that leading Jews were controlling the Freemasons, a secret society which was, likewise, frequently the focus of conspiracy theories. Consequently, popular conspiracies concerning world domination were brought together in a single antisemitic narrative. The point is that much of this is then articulated by Osman Bey, who argued that machinations of the Alliance could be traced back through history and directly linked to key political events such as the French Revolution. More significantly, he argued that there were considerable hostile forces, controlled by leading rabbis within the Alliance, now gathering throughout Russia and around her borders. Indeed, by 1875 – before The Rabbi’s Speech had become popular – the seventh edition of The World Conquest of the Jews had been published. This contributed both to a growing paranoia about the power of the Jews and to political theorizing that imagined a world devoid of Jewish influence, which, it was argued, caused wars, poverty, class hatred, and revolutions. Finally, central to the antisemitic conspiracy milieu which shaped the contents of the Protocols is another important conspiracy – which is linked to beliefs concerning the Jewish involvement with Freemasonry – namely that concerning the Illuminati. Although the two conspiracies concerning Jewish world domination and the global control of the Illuminati can be considered separately, for many conspiracy theorists they belong to a single super-conspiracy. The original Illuminati thesis can be traced back to John Robison, Professor of Natural Philosophy at the University of Edinburgh, who published a work in 1798 claiming to expose ‘‘a conspiracy against all the religions and governments of Europe.’’22 His book included a discussion of the Bavarian intellectual Adam Weishaupt, who sought to propagate Enlightenment rationalism through a secretive society which he founded in 1776, called the Order of the Illuminati. Although Weishaupt 21

Brafmann, quoted in Cohn, Warrant for Genocide, p. 55.

22

Robison, Proofs of a Conspiracy.

80

CHRISTOPHER PARTRIDGE AND RON GEAVES

was removed from his post as Professor of Canon Law at the University of Ingolstadt, and his order suppressed, Robison and others were convinced that the Illuminati, as well as the Freemasons and other secret societies, continued to spread their influence in an effort to secure world domination. Because secret societies, such as the Freemasons in particular, were already suspected of conspiring with Satan, the thesis seemed plausible to many. However, more significant than Robison in the history of modern conspiracies is Abbe´ Augustin de Barruel. His five-volume Me´moire pour servir a` l’histoire du Jacobinisme (written during 1797–8), which is regarded by some as ‘‘the most influential conspiracist book of all time,’’23 was particularly important, because it met a felt need to provide a unifying theory explaining the French Revolution. The Me´moire, as Nigel James comments, ‘‘linked the Jacobins to the Philosophes (anti-Christian), the Freemasons (anti-monarchy and anti-property) and the Illuminati (the ancient order who control the Freemasons).’’24 He located the genesis of the problem with the medieval Order of Templars, which had not, as supposed, been disbanded in 1314, but had survived as a secret society, sworn to abolish all monarchies, overthrow the papacy, preach unrestricted liberty, and establish a world republic under its control. In its efforts to do this it had gained influence in positions of power and had infiltrated the Freemasons, which was now under its control. As to the controlling centre of this now widespread movement, this was, Barruel argued, the shadowy, tight-knit organization known as the Illuminati – an organization directly linked to Satan. The success of their efforts is evident in the French Revolution. Indeed, if they were not stopped, he argued, the Illuminati would dominate the world and the stage would be set for the appearance of the Antichrist.25 This, of course, is particularly significant when considered along with the antisemitic theories discussed above. Hence it was not long before this theory quickly became entwined with allegations that international Jewry was behind the plot. Moreover, this conspiracy has become enormously popular over the last century.26 Partridge has come across several contemporary variations of it, most of which link the Illuminati 23 24 25

26

Pipes, quoted in James, ‘‘Militias, the Patriot Movement, and the Internet,’’ p. 80. James, ibid., p. 80. It should be noted that Barruel did not actually connect Masonic influence during the revolution. The idea was suggested to him by Robison, whom he met when visiting London. Knowing that Robison was preparing to put his ideas into print, ‘‘Barruel felt inspired to produce a book on the very same subject, if possible before the imprudent Robison. And he succeeded – his Me´moire forestalled Robison’s by a year, it was translated into English, French, Italian, Spanish, and Russian, and it made its author a rich man’’ (Cohn, Warrant for Genocide, p. 27). See Barkun, Culture of Conspiracy, pp. 45–64.

Antisemitism, conspiracy culture, Christianity, Islam

81

to what the geographer Richard Peet has referred to as the ‘‘unholy trinity’’: the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and the World Trade Organization.27 Several of the central ideas of the Protocols can be traced back to Barruel’s Me´moire.28 Although Barruel did not discuss the Jews, focusing rather on the evil machinations of the Illuminati and the Freemasons, its influential discussion of the dynamics of conspiracy was simply recast as a Jewish conspiracy in the Protocols. The evil networks of the Illuminati and Freemasons covertly seeking dictatorial power reappear as a powerful assembly of Jewish ‘‘Elders’’ conspiring to seize control of the world. Subsequent theorists have even argued, as Barruel had done of the Freemasons, and as Osman Bey had done of the Alliance, that ‘‘cabals’’29 of Jewish conspirators were the ultimate reason for the Russian Revolution. Finally, as well as the texts mentioned above, it should be noted that a particular influence on the writers of the Protocols was Maurice Joly’s Dialogue aux Enfers entre Montesquieu et Machiavel (1864). The volume – a dialogue between ‘‘Machiavelli,’’ arguing for despotism, and ‘‘Montesquieu,’’ arguing for liberalism – is an attack and expose´ of the authoritarian regime of Napoleon III and a commendation of liberalism. Cohn, who has produced a selection of parallel passages from each volume,30 has shown that over 160 passages in the Protocols, totalling two-fifths of the entire text, are clearly based on passages in Joly; in nine of the chapters the borrowings amount to more than half of the text, in some they amount to three-quarters, in one (Protocol VII) almost the entire text. Moreover, with less than a dozen exceptions, the order of the borrowed passages remains the same as it was in Joly, as though the adapter had worked through the Dialogue mechanically, page by page, copying straight into his ‘‘protocols’’ as he proceeded. Even the arrangement in chapters is much the same – the twenty-four chapters of the Protocols corresponding roughly with the twenty-five of the Dialogue.31

The forger places the words of Machiavelli, who represents Napoleon in the Dialogue, into the mouth of the nameless Elder of Zion. However, he recasts them in terms of antisemitic conspiracy. Moreover, certain passages 27 28 29

30

See Peet, Unholy Trinity. Daniels, Doomsday Reader, p. 101. See also Keren, ‘‘Protocols’’; Bronner, Rumor About the Jews, p. 73. It is not insignificant that much conspiracist literature uses the word ‘‘cabal’’ to describe dark, secret organizations, in that it is derived from the term ‘‘Kabbalah.’’ It is, however, unfortunate that academic texts indiscriminately use the term – which is purposely avoided in these volumes, except when used in quotations. Cohn, Warrant for Genocide, pp. 275–9. 31 Ibid., pp. 74–5.

82

CHRISTOPHER PARTRIDGE AND RON GEAVES

are taken from Montesquieu and used in a way that indicates that ‘‘the ideals of liberalism were invented by the Jews, and are being propagated by them, for the sole purpose of disorganizing and demoralizing the Gentiles.’’32 THE EMERGENCE AND INFLUENCE OF THE PROTOCOLS

As indicated above, the Protocols was produced by the Okhrana in order to divert attention away from Romanov decadence – which contrasted sharply with the poor condition of their empire – to discredit the reforms of the liberals, and to do all this by blaming the Jews, with whom the liberals sympathized. It is likely that it was originally produced hastily in Paris at some point between 1897 and 1899 under the supervision of the head of the Okhrana abroad, Pyotr Ivanovich Rachovsky. It was eventually published in Russia in 1903 by Pavolachi Krushevan in his newspaper Znamia (August 26–September 3). However, since its creation, the next significant development in its history came in 1905 when Sergei Nilus33 (having, most likely, procured the document from Rachovsky34) published the longer version (on which most subsequent editions are based) as an appendix to the second edition of his Velikoe v Malom (The Great and the Small: Antichrist Considered as an Imminent Political Possibility), in which he provides an explicit Christian eschatological interpretation of the conspiracy, linking the Elders of Zion to the emergence of the Antichrist.35 In 1917 Nilus published the fourth edition, this time linking the forgery to Herzl and a Zionist Congress in Basel in August 1897. Although there is no evidence for these claims, it is this version, which exploited the concerns of right-wing Christians, which has had such an enormous impact within the history of antisemitism.36 Since 1917, the Protocols has been published many times in Russian. The first non-Russian version was published in German by Gottfried zur Beek (Ludwig Mu¨ller von Hausen) in mid-January 1920 (although it is dated 1919). Indeed, as Nora Levin points out, ‘‘it was in Germany after World War I that it had its greatest success. There it was used to explain all of the disasters that had befallen the country: the defeat in the war, the hunger, the destructive inflation.’’37 Of particular significance, is 32 34 35

36 37

Ibid., p. 75. 33 On Nilus, see Ben-Itto, The Lie That Wouldn’t Die, pp. 32ff. See Cohn, Warrant for Genocide, p. 78; Bronner, Rumor About the Jews, p. 88. Ben-Itto considers 1905 to be ‘‘the year of the Protocols,’’ since Nilus’s is the principal text on which subsequent influential editions were based (The Lie That Wouldn’t Die, pp. 39–45). See Cohn, Warrant for Genocide, p. 67. Levin, Holocaust, p. 19, quoted in Dickerson, ‘‘Hitler and the Protocols.’’

Antisemitism, conspiracy culture, Christianity, Islam

83

the fact that, in 1929, the Nazi Party was given the rights to publish zur Beek’s translation, and by 1933 thirty-three editions had been published in German. On November 3, 1939, Hitler argued that the Protocols should be distributed abroad in order to demonstrate the culpability of the Jews and Freemasons in starting the war. Indeed, while there is much debate about influences on Hitler’s thought, it does seem clear that one of these was the Protocols.38 According to Nora Levin: Indeed, it has been argued that his strategy to gain power was inspired by those described in the Protocols. For example, Levi notes a conversation of one of his confidants, who recalls: ‘‘‘In those [early] days [of our movement] I read the Protocols of the Elders of Zion – I was really shocked’ [said Hitler]. ‘The perilous stealth of the enemy, and his omnipresence! I saw at once that we would have to imitate this – in our own way, of course . . .’ I asked, ‘Were you inspired by the Protocols in your [political] struggle?’ ‘Yes, indeed, and in detail. I learned enormously from the Protocols.’’’39 During January or February 1920, just after the first German translation was published, the first English translation was published in Britain under the title The Jewish Peril. While the volume received generally favorable reviews in The Times (May 8, 1920) and the Spectator (May 15, 1920), in the sense that it was not dismissed as a forgery – though these newspapers later published letters arguing just that – the Morning Post, influenced by its Russian correspondent, Victor Marsden, openly supported it as an authentic Jewish document. Indeed, Marsden later produced a new translation, which has since become the standard English translation and is still in print. Shortly after the first English translation had been completed, on June 26, 1920, the Protocols began to appear in Henry Ford’s weekly newspaper, the Dearborn Independent.40 Indeed, opening with an article on May 22, 1920, entitled ‘‘The Jewish Character and Business,’’ Ford published ninety-one successive articles in the Dearborn Independent devoted to exposing ‘‘the international Jew’’ as ‘‘the world’s problem,’’41 many of which drew liberally on the Protocols. Moreover, in 1922 Ford’s publishing company produced an anthology of the articles, The International Jew, which went on to be translated into sixteen languages (including six editions in Germany). Although in 1927 Ford claimed not to have been fully aware of what had been done in his name and, on June 30, retracted the accusations made in the articles, as Cohn comments, ‘‘all in all The International Jew probably did more than any other work to make the 38 40

See Bronner, Rumor About the Jews, pp. 123–8. Baldwin, Henry Ford, p. 141. 41 Ibid., p. 102.

39

Levy, ‘‘Introduction,’’ pp. 29–30.

84

CHRISTOPHER PARTRIDGE AND RON GEAVES

Protocols world-famous.’’42 Indeed, Baldur von Shirach, who was eventually responsible for the Hitler Youth, claimed that he was converted to antisemitism after reading The International Jew.43 (It is worth noting that, like von Shirach and allegedly Hitler, other significant fascists have been inspired, even converted to antisemitism, by the Protocols. For example, Einar A˚berg, a key figure in postwar antisemitism in Sweden, was converted to the cause following his reading of the forgery.44) Shortly after the first English translation appeared in 1920, the first French translation appeared and, following this, in 1921, the first Arabic translation was published in Damascus. Particularly since the war years, it has continued to be published and translated. For example, in 1968, 300,000 copies were published in French, Italian, Spanish, and Arabic by the Islamic Institute in Beirut; in 1974 it was published in Bombay under the title International Conspiracy Against Indians; in 1987 the first Japanese edition was published, and in 1994 it was published by right-wing Christians in Australia. Indeed, it has been published in almost every major language except Hebrew. THE CONTINUING INFLUENCE OF THE PROTOCOLS

It says something about the extent of latent antisemitism and the human penchant for conspiracy theories that, although the forgery was not particularly convincing and was quickly revealed, its influence has continued. Indeed, it is perhaps the conspiracy element that has contributed most significantly to this forgery’s longevity. That is to say, one of the problems with conspiracies is that they are difficult to disprove to those committed to them. Cognitive dissonance is quickly and almost instinctively assuaged by incorporating contrary evidence into the theory itself. Arguments against a conspiracy are quickly transformed into arguments for a conspiracy. For example, in Mein Kampf, Hitler clearly argues that the overwhelming evidence against the authenticity of the Protocols is itself proof of that authenticity: To what extent the whole existence of this people is based on a continuous lie is shown incomparably by the Protocols of the Wise Men of Zion, so infinitely hated by the Jews. They are based on a forgery, the Frankfurter Zeitung moans and screams once every week: the best proof that they are authentic. What many Jews may do unconsciously is here consciously exposed. And that is what matters. It is 42 44

Cohn, Warrant for Genocide, p. 159. 43 Levy, ‘‘Introduction,’’ p. 27. See Kaplan and Weinberg, Emergence, pp. 111–14.

Antisemitism, conspiracy culture, Christianity, Islam

85

completely indifferent from what Jewish brain these disclosures originate; the important thing is that with positively terrifying certainty they reveal the nature and activity of the Jewish people and expose their inner contexts as well as their ultimate final aims. The best criticism applied to them, however, is reality. Anyone who examines the historical development of the last hundred years from the standpoint of this book will at once understand the screaming of the Jewish press. For once this book has become the common property of a people, the Jewish menace may be considered as broken.45

(Indeed, as Ben-Itto argues, ‘‘whole passages of [Mein Kampf ] read as if they had been copied from the Protocols.’’46) Hitler, of course, was not alone. ‘‘The acceptance by the racist right of the veracity of Jewish conspiracy,’’ Nigel James observes, ‘‘is ubiquitous. Sometimes it is presented within theological frames of reference – by Christian identity sites – and sometimes in secular terms, for instance by the American Nazi Party.’’47 However, the point is that when the veracity of the conspiracy is questioned, the conspiracy theorist concludes that either the power of the conspiracy to misinform is further established or the questioner is actively or passively part of the conspiracy. While this type of thinking may seem fanciful, there are still many who believe the Protocols to be an accurate reflection of history. For example, it is interesting to read some of the readers’ comments on the UK website of Amazon – a company which has felt it necessary to include a disclaimer distancing itself from the volume. The following comment is not untypical: ‘‘Read [the Protocols] for yourself, then look at how the world has developed since they were first published. I think you may be surprised at how accurately this alleged fiction appears to fit historical developments.’’ Again, ‘‘This book is essential for anyone who wishes to be enlightened as to the current world economic situation. It answers many questions hitherto intractable.’’48 Indeed, it is particularly interesting that, as we have seen, conspiracies about Jews plotting world domination have overlapped with eschatological discourse about the rise of the Antichrist. This gives us a clue to their appeal. Both apocalyptic and conspiracy theories draw attention to the problem of powerlessness in the face of widespread evil. As Stephen O’Leary puts it, ‘‘While conspiracy strives to provide a 45 46 47 48

Adolf Hitler, quoted in Dickerson, ‘‘Hitler and the Protocols.’’ Ben-Itto, The Lie That Wouldn’t Die, p. 179. James, ‘‘Militias, the Patriot Movement, and the Internet,’’ p. 70. Anonymous, ‘‘Judge for Yourselves. Don’t Rely on Lying Media and Politicos’’; Anonymous, ‘‘Enlightenment’’: (accessed July 3, 2005).

86

CHRISTOPHER PARTRIDGE AND RON GEAVES

spatial self-definition of the true community as set apart from the evils that surround us, apocalypse locates the problem of evil in time and looks forward to its imminent resolution.’’ He continues, Conspiracy argument may also take a historical perspective and advocate the eradication of the evil cabal, but in its extreme form (when the conspiracy is imagined as all-powerful) it may also call for withdrawal from communal life to avoid the taint of evil. At such times, belief in divine intervention in the historical process may appear to be the only alternative to utter despair.49

Hence, eschatology and conspiracy merge. Indeed, to return to the Illuminati, few works within the genre have been as successful as Pat Robertson’s The New World Order (1991). With a few hundred thousand copies in print, it is sold in mainstream bookstores as well as Christian bookshops. Those who have any knowledge of premillennialist eschatology and Western conspiracy theories will find Robertson’s world a familiar one. On the one hand, God will intervene and bring an end to evil in the future, and on the other hand, there is a reason for the increasing influence of evil now. Secret societies conspire to form a world government that will oppose Christianity, erode American liberties, empower the Antichrist, and hasten Armageddon. Indeed, Robertson is a good example of a fundamentalist bricoleur. Not only is he, like other fundamentalists such as Texe Marrs and William Still,50 an Illuminati conspiracy theorist,51 but some critics have argued that there are also strains of implicit (if not explicit) antisemitism in his work, which can, again, be traced back to the works of writers such as Nesta Webster52– whose book Secret Societies and Subversive Movements was republished by the Christian Book Club of America. Although, as a Christian Zionist, Robertson defended himself at length in 1995,53 because he draws so heavily and uncritically on conspiracy culture in his New World Order, it was very difficult for him not to absorb some of its explicit antisemitism and simply present it repackaged. Part of the problem with the conspiracy-apocalyptic rhetoric of writers such as Robertson is that it is based on, as Boyer comments, ‘‘snippets of quotations from a wide range of scientists, social commentators, and cultural observers, but show little evidence of any real familiarity with the thought of the individuals in question.’’54 Hence, without wanting to be patronizing, one 49 51 52 53 54

O’Leary, Arguing the Apocalypse, p. 6. 50 See Marrs, Dark Majesty; Still, New World Order. See particularly Robertson, New World Order, pp. 67–92. See Lind, ‘‘Rev. Robertson’s Grand International Conspiracy Theory,’’ p. 23. See Niebuhr, ‘‘Pat Robertson Says He Intended No Antisemitism,’’ p. 10. Boyer, When Time Shall Be No More, p. 434.

Antisemitism, conspiracy culture, Christianity, Islam

87

suspects that Robertson’s rhetoric has been shaped by that which appeals to him and which fits his conspiracy discourse, but which he does not sufficiently understand. (This is not to say that he is not intelligent enough to understand, but simply that he has not carried out adequate research into the ideas he has so uncritically adopted.) Consequently, one can assume that, unaware of the implications, he was genuinely offended by the charges. However, regardless of his depth of reading and knowledge of the sources of his quotations, as noted above, it is not difficult to determine the genesis of many of his ideas: Weishaupt’s Illuminati, who had infiltrated the Freemasons,55 were responsible for the French Revolution;56 the Illuminati commissioned Marx and Engels to write The Communist Manifesto;57 ‘‘Communism was the brainchild of German-Jewish intellectuals,’’58 who, financed by Jacob Schiff, were responsible for the Russian Revolution;59 through the banker Paul Warburg, the Illuminati created the Federal Reserve system; plans for a Satanic new world order have been financed by ‘‘European financiers,’’ who happen to be Jewish;60 the key to understanding all this is biblical prophecy. Regardless of rather odd statements, such as an apparent distinction between ‘‘God’s chosen people, and the Jews,’’61 it is arguable that Robertson is not driven by antisemitism – as the authors of the Protocols were – but rather by a premillennarian desire to apply biblical prophecy and reveal the machinations of the Antichrist. Nevertheless, some key themes evident within the Illuminati-Protocols conspiracy are conspicuous. Other thinkers and organizations, however, have been far less passive in the use of the Protocols. For example, the profascist public figure ‘‘who reached the widest [American] audience during the 1930s,’’ the Roman Catholic priest Father Charles Coughlin, was an explicit supporter of the forgery.62 He blamed the Depression, the corruption of international banking, and the spread of communism on the evil machinations of the Jews as set out in the Protocols. ‘‘Social Justice, the Coughlinite periodical, serialized the Protocols of the Elders of Zion and Coughlin himself attacked the role of the Jews in the Roosevelt administration.’’63 Moreover, he encouraged the organization of the ‘‘Christian Front,’’ a network of rightwing paramilitary units, and, at the outbreak of the Second World War, supported Hitler’s vision for a ‘‘New Order.’’ There is also some evidence to suggest that, slightly earlier, James Gray, Principal of the Moody Bible 55 58 62

Robertson, New World Order, pp. 68, 178–85. 56 Ibid., pp. 67–8. 57 Ibid., pp. 67–71. Ibid., p. 17. 59 Ibid., p. 178. 60 Ibid., pp. 123–4, 181ff. 61 Ibid., p. 74. Kaplan and Weinberg, Emergence, pp. 35–6. 63 Ibid., p. 37.

88

CHRISTOPHER PARTRIDGE AND RON GEAVES

Institute and editor of the Moody Monthly, supported the forgery. The pro-Nazi antisemite Elizabeth Dilling – herself a disseminator of the Protocols64 – clearly thought highly of Gray, and, in her The Jewish Religion: Its Influence Today (1964), quotes his response to Ford’s apology for the articles published in the Dearborn Independent: We believe he had good grounds for some of the things about the Jews which he did publish . . . Indeed, the pressure brought to bear upon Mr. Ford to make his confession was in itself such corroborative evidence. This pressure came from the Jews all over the world, and in the face of it Mr. Ford was panic-stricken.

Dilling then comments that ‘‘Dr Gray knew what he was talking about, having been subjected to Jewish threats himself. But he refused to recant his assertions that the Protocols of Zion represent the program of Talmudic World Jewry.’’65 Numerous other right-wing organizations that are selfidentifiably Christian have followed a similar path. As Levy comments, ‘‘most indefatigable in keeping the forgery afloat have been the National States Rights Party, Christian Defense League, Sons of Liberty, Christian National Crusade, and the John Birch Society.’’66 For example, the ‘‘Bible Believers’’ insist that Jesus was not a Jew,67 and explicitly endorse and provide online versions of a range of antisemitic texts, including The International Jew and the Protocols.68 Similar claims and references to the veracity of the Protocols and related antisemitic texts have been made by individuals and organizations such as BeWISE, International Christian Education Services,69 and Carol Valentine’s Come and Hear.70 For example, BeWISE makes the following statement: We have found that there is much confusion concerning the true origin of the Protocols. BeWISE will simply state for the record, that they are what they say they are, and they are definitely from the Jewish (Talmudic/Masonic/Zionist) leaders and rabbinical in their essence and ‘‘mind-set.’’ They were not meant for ‘‘public consumption’’ and caused a huge panic within the Jewish community. As a result, 64 65 66

67 68 69

70

See Dilling, ‘‘The Protocols ‘Killed’ Again?’’ Dilling, Jewish Religion, p. 142. The quotation is from Moody Monthly (September 1927). Levy, ‘‘Introduction,’’ p. 37. That said, it should be noted that the John Birch Society has, since 1963, explicitly refused to condone antisemitism, expelling those who have explicitly endorsed such views. See Kaplan and Weinberg, Emergence, pp. 104–5. For documents from some of these groups see Sargent, Extremism. (accessed July 3, 2005). (accessed July 3, 2005). See the following pages on the BeWISE website: (accessed July 3, 2005); (accessed July 3, 2005). See Valentine’s discussion of how the Talmud will change America: (accessed July 3, 2005).

Antisemitism, conspiracy culture, Christianity, Islam

89

the Jewish leaders have seen fit to spend BILLIONS of dollars for ‘‘damage control’’ in a pathetic effort to deceive the masses of ‘‘goyim’’ that the Protocols are not a Talmudic/Jewish plan to achieve total world control. This is absolutely ludicrous! Unfortunately even many of our Christian /Patriot / fellow freedomfighters have bought these massive LIES, and are therefore not fully aware of just who their physical enemies are.71

THE REEMERGENCE OF THE PROTOCOLS IN THE MUSLIM WORLD

It is not only ‘‘Christian / Patriot / fellow freedom-fighters’’ of the Christian Right who have bought into the conspiracy theories offered by belief in the validity of the Protocols. As previously mentioned, many contemporary Islamic movements and Muslim governments appear to have embraced the narratives of the Protocols wholeheartedly and with little reflection on their origins. Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Sunday programme, the Chief Rabbi of Britain, Sir Jonathan Sacks, stated that ‘‘a tsunami of antisemitism’’ was advancing globally. Although the Chief Rabbi did not refer explicitly to the Protocols, but rather restricted his remarks to Holocaust denial, he asserted that he was not surprised by recent comments expressed by the President of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, in which the Holocaust was claimed to be a myth. The Chief Rabbi stated: Frankly I wasn’t surprised because Holocaust denial and other forms of antisemitism . . . have been circulating in best-selling books and prime-time television in parts of the world now for several years and this is all a kind of tsunami of antisemitism which is taking place a long way from this country, but of which Europe seems unaware.72

The Chief Rabbi also asserted that the reemergence of a cluster of beliefs and theories associated with European antisemitism is part of the ‘‘vocabulary of politics in certain parts of the world.’’73 Although the Chief Rabbi was reticent to name the parts of the world where such discourse is so widespread, his reference to Iran would suggest that he was speaking of Muslim nations. No doubt the Chief Rabbi was also aware of the speech made in October 2003 by the Prime Minister of Malaysia, Mahathir Muhammad, in which he addressed Muslim leaders 71 72

73

BeWISE, ‘‘Description.’’ Sir Jonathan Sacks, quoted in an article by Audrey Gillan, ‘‘Chief Rabbi fears tsunami of hatred,’’ Guardian (Monday, January 2, 2006), p. 8. Quoted by Gillan, ibid.

90

CHRISTOPHER PARTRIDGE AND RON GEAVES

from over fifty nations and declared that ‘‘the Europeans killed six million Jews out of twelve million, but today the Jews rule the world by proxy. They get others to fight and die for them.’’74 Although the Prime Minister does not deny the Holocaust, his comments would suggest that he supports the idea of Jewish world domination. Charles Jacobs maintains that the Protocols is regularly handed out to visitors by Saudi royals, and that in 2002 Egyptian state-controlled television aired a programme based on the Protocols which was broadcast throughout the Islamic world. He also cites a book by the Syrian Defence Minister, Mustapha Tiass, in which it is reasserted that the Jews use blood to make matzvoh.75 The Christian website ‘‘Light for the Last Days’’ argues that hatred of Jews is widespread throughout the Muslim world and that the Protocols is widely printed, distributed, quoted, and believed. It also refers to the forty-part Egyptian television broadcast which claimed that Jews had been trying to take over the world in accordance with their vision elaborated in the Protocols. It also stated that school texts in Saudi Arabia provide numerous references to the work without any indication that they are a forgery.76 In addition, the online version of the Jewish World Review also refers to the use of the Protocols in both the Arab and the Iranian press to connect Jewish conspiracies to assassinations of Arab leaders, the war in Iraq, control of Hollywood, the press, world economics and world resources, and an alleged war on Islam by the West.77 The article provides a number of examples of references to the Protocols. Although some of these are by Palestinian activists and radical Muslim clerics, others are made by more substantial and mainstream figures. For example, Hisham Jaber, the President of the Middle East Center for Media Studies and Public Relations, appeared on Hezbollah’s Al-Manar TV on July 11, 2005, and stated that the Elders of Zion were responsible for the corrupt text of the New Testament and had even attempted to forge the Qur’an. On April 22, 2004, the Secretary-General of the Islamic Universities Association had appeared on the same station and quoted the Protocols as urging Jews to ‘‘spread corruption amongst all human societies so you can rule. All the pornographic films in the world are made by Jewish companies, and the same goes for drugs.’’ In addition, the Iranian news channel IRINN TV 74

75 76 77

Charles Jacobs, ‘‘Accepting the Reality of Islamic Anti-Semitism,’’ (accessed January 6, 2006). Charles Jacobs, ‘‘Accepting the Reality.’’ , March 2004 (accessed January 6, 2006). Steven Stalinsky, ‘‘HBO’s ‘Protocols of Zion,’’’ Jewish World Review (September 28, 2005), , p. 1 (accessed December 27, 2005)

Antisemitism, conspiracy culture, Christianity, Islam

91

broadcast a program about a book published on the Protocols by the Organization for Culture and Arts of the Tehran Municipality on July 14, 2004. In the news program, the Protocols was quoted and it was stated that ‘‘the Jews believed that in order to rule the world they must have two tools in their control. The first is gold . . . and the second is the international media.’’78 However, it is important to bear in mind the context of a number of these speeches. In the Arab nations and Iran, Hezbollah is not considered to be an organization of ‘‘terrorists’’ but rather the heroes of the Lebanese conflict with Israel and a source of continued successful resistance. They do not engage in anti-Western activism but restrict their militancy to opposition to Israel. The speakers on their radio station may well have exaggerated their normal views in order to appear more radical. It is also a fact that most of the extensive coverage of Islamic antisemitism on the World Wide Web originates from Jewish and millennial Christian sources and must be viewed as part of the resistance to Muslim views on Palestine. A more neutral view may possibly be found in the online encyclopedia Wikipedia, although one must bear in mind that there is little editorial control of submissions. In an article on the Protocols, there is a comprehensive section on the use of the forgeries among Muslim nations and groups since 1948.79 The article cites the everyday usage of the Protocols in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Iran, and the Palestinian National Authority, in addition to the radical Islamic organizations Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and al-Qaeda. It also provides a list of Arab leaders who have publicly recommended the Protocols and states that in 1970 the work was the top ‘‘nonfiction’’ bestseller in Lebanon.80 It also notes that the Protocols are regularly distributed by the Nation of Islam along with Palestinian student groups on college campuses in the USA.81 Bernard Lewis has stated that the Protocols of Zion are universally cited in Arabic literature on Jewish matters, and noted that to his knowledge they were never refuted or challenged by an Arab writer.82 Lewis has also written that Muslims feel humiliated in the face of Western progress and seek scapegoats for the decline of Muslim civilization.83 Geaves would resist this 78 79

80

81 83

All examples cited in Steven Stalinsky, ‘‘HBO’s ‘Protocols of Zion,’’’ p. 2. The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, Encyclopedia Wikipedia, (accessed December 27, 2005). Cited from Hertzberg, Jews, p. 34, in , (accessed December 27, 2005). Ibid. 82 Bernard Lewis, cited in Ben-Itto, The Lie That Wouldn’t Die, p. 202. Lewis, What Went Wrong.

92

CHRISTOPHER PARTRIDGE AND RON GEAVES

analysis, as many radical Islamic movements with the strongest anti-Jewish rhetoric are among the strongest critics of the globalization of consumer capitalism, secularism, and Western forms of government. However, he would agree that the doctrine of ‘‘Manifest Success,’’ central to the theology of the Qur’an, makes it difficult for Muslims to criticize Islam or to seek solutions to failure in Islam itself. On the other hand, it provides a justification for radical self-criticism.84 The key to understanding the various manifestations of phenomena associated with antisemitism among Muslims lies in the examples cited in the Wikipedia article. All of the individual Muslim leaders, nations, and movements provided as examples of quoting from the Protocols are in the frontline of the struggle against Israel on behalf of the Palestinian cause. It is also notable that the examples of Muslim ‘‘antisemitism’’ all appear after 1948 and the founding of the modern state of Israel. Unlike the relations between Christians and Jews, Jewish and Muslim history generally demonstrates the ability to live side by side with little difficulty prior to the founding of Israel as a modern Jewish state. Any analysis of the reemergence of the Protocols in the Muslim world along with other historic manifestations of antisemitism need to take into account the propaganda struggle between the Israelis and the Palestinian Arabs. The accusations of ‘‘antisemitism’’ directed toward the Muslim world are a significant strategy within the struggle for world opinion. Holocaust denial, the use of the Protocols, and accusations of world domination by Jews have strong emotive resonances in the West. Just as most scholars of anti-Jewishness would separate Christian antisemitism from discrimination based on racial characteristics, used so effectively by the German Nazi Party, it is also important to distinguish antisemitism of the latter variety from anti-Zionism. The application of attitudes and theories originating within nineteenth- and twentiethcentury antisemitism to the cause of anti-Zionism do the latter no favors. More moderate Palestinian intellectuals are aware of this fact. A number of them have questioned the authenticity of the Protocols, including Dr. al-Attiyah, the Director of the Palestine Research Centre in Beirut, and Abdelwahab el-Kayyali, a leading member of the Palestine Liberation Organization in Damascus.85 Yet it must 84

85

The doctrine of Manifest Success asserts that political or material success is proof of God’s favor. Consequently, political, economic, or military failure creates individual and group psychological tension. The tension is resolved by religious revival in order to re-establish divine favor. Thus a pattern of political, economic, or military failure accompanied by religious revival is established in Muslim history. Ben-Itto, The Lie That Wouldn’t Die, p. 204.

Antisemitism, conspiracy culture, Christianity, Islam

93

be acknowledged that the revival of the Protocols in the Muslim world in the second half of the twentieth century, exactly coinciding with its discrediting in Europe, allows the work to remain one of the most successful and notorious forgeries associated with a religious community in modern times. REFERENCES

Baldwin, Neil, Henry Ford and the Jews: The Mass Production of Hate (New York: Public Affairs, 2001). Barkun, Michael, A Culture of Conspiracy: Apocalyptic Visions of Contemporary America (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003). Ben-Itto, Hadassa, The Lie That Wouldn’t Die: The Protocols of the Elders of Zion (London: Vallentine Mitchell, 2005). Berlet, Chip, ‘‘The Illuminati,’’ in Brasher, Encyclopedia of Fundamentalism, pp. 231–2. BeWISE, ‘‘Description and Notes on the Protocols’’: (accessed July 3, 2005). Boyer, Paul, When Time Shall Be No More: Prophecy Belief in Modern American Culture (Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1992). Brasher, Brenda E. (ed.), Encyclopedia of Fundamentalism (New York: Routledge, 2001). Bronner, Stephen E., A Rumor About the Jews: Reflections on Antisemitism and the Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2000). Cohn, Norman, Warrant for Genocide: The Myth of the Jewish WorldConspiracy and the Protocols of the Elders of Zion (London: Eyre & Spottiswood, 1967). Daniels, Ted (ed.), A Doomsday Reader: Prophets, Predictors, and Hucksters of Salvation (New York: New York University Press, 1999). Dickerson, David M., ‘‘Hitler and the Protocols (in German and English)’’: (accessed: November 28, 2004). Dilling, Elizabeth, The Jewish Religion: Its Influence Today (Los Angeles: Noontide Press, 1983). Full text also available at (accessed July 3, 2005). ‘‘The Protocols ‘Killed’ Again?’’ Available at (accessed July 3, 2005). Gillan, Audrey, ‘‘Chief Rabbi fears ‘tsunami’ of hatred,’’ Guardian (Janury 6, 2006). Hertzberg, Arthur, Jews: The Essence and Character of a People (London: HarperCollins, 1999). Jacobs, Charles, ‘‘Accepting the Reality of Islamic Anti-Semitism,’’ (accessed January 6, 2006).

94

CHRISTOPHER PARTRIDGE AND RON GEAVES

James, Nigel, ‘‘Militias, the Patriot Movement, and the Internet: The Ideology of Conspiricism,’’ in Parish and Parker, The Age of Anxiety: Conspiracy Theory and the Human Sciences, pp. 63–92. Kaplan, Jeffrey, and Leonard Weinberg, The Emergence of a Euro-American Radical Right (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1998). Karsh, Ephrain, Rethinking the Middle East (London: Routledge, 2003). Keren, Danny, ‘‘The Protocols of the Elders of Zion’’: (accessed November 27, 2004). Ku¨ng, H., Judaism, trans. J. Bowden (London: SCM Press, 1992). Lee, Albert, Henry Ford and the Jews (New York: Stein & Day, 1980). Levin, Nora, The Holocaust: The Destruction of European Jewry, 1933–45 (New York: Schocken Books, 1990). Levy, Richard, S., ‘‘Introduction: The Political Career of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion,’’ in Segal, A Lie and a Libel, pp. 3–47. Lewis, Bernard, What Went Wrong: Western Impact and Middle Eastern Response (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002). Light for the Last Days, , March, 2004 (accessed January 6, 2006). Lind, Michael, ‘‘Rev. Robertson’s Grand International Conspiracy Theory,’’ New York Review of Books 42/2 (February 2, 1995), p. 23. Marrs, Texe, Dark Majesty: Secret Brotherhood and the Magic of a Thousand Points of Light (Austin, TX: Living Truth Publishers, 1992). Niebuhr, Gustav, ‘‘Pat Robertson Says He Intended No Anti-Semitism in Book He Wrote Four Years Ago,’’ New York Times (April 3, 1995), p. 10. O’Leary, Stephen, Arguing the Apocalypse: A Theory of Millennial Rhetoric (New York: Oxford Univerisity Press, 1994). Parish, Jane, and Martin Parker (eds.), The Age of Anxiety: Conspiracy Theory and the Human Sciences (Oxford: Blackwell, 2001). Peet, Richard, Unholy Trinity: The IMF, World Bank, and WTO (London: Zed Books, 2003). ‘‘The Protocols of the Elders of Zion,’’ Encyclopedia Wikipedia, (accessed December 27, 2005). Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion, trans. V. Marsden (York, SC: Liberty Bell Publications, 2004). Robertson, Pat, The New World Order (Dallas: Word, 1991). Robison, John, Proofs of a Conspiracy Against All the Religions and Governments of Europe, Carried on in Secret Meetings of the Free Masons, Illuminati, and Reading Societies, Collected from Good Authorities (Boston, MA: Western Islands, 1967). Sargent, Lyman T., Extremism in America: A Reader (New York: New York University Press, 1995). Segal, Benjamin W., A Lie and a Libel: A History of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, trans. and ed. R. S. Levy (Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press, 1995).

Antisemitism, conspiracy culture, Christianity, Islam

95

Stalinsky, Steven, ‘‘HBO’s ‘‘Protocols of Zion,’’ The Jewish World Review, September 28, 2005, (accessed December 7, 2005). Still, William T., New World Order: The Ancient Plan of Secret Societies (Lafayette, LA: Huntington House, 1990). Timmerman, Kenneth R., Preachers of Hate: Islam and the War on America (New York: Three Rivers Press, 2004). Webster N., Secret Societies and Subversive Movements (Los Angeles: Christian Book Club of American, n.d.; originally published 1924).

CHAPTER

5

The invention of a counter-tradition: the case of the North American anti-cult movement David G. Bromley and Douglas E. Cowan

Although the implications of their positions differ dramatically, scholars ranging from Marx and Freud to Durkheim and Berger have held that humans create the gods they worship rather than the reverse. In both religious studies and the sociology of religion, of course, this assertion is better regarded as a foundational assumption than as a discovery, since the empirical basis of these disciplines admits to no other solution. From a social-constructionist standpoint, transcendent power must be envisioned, empowered, and mystified through the invention of myth and ritual. Despite a general agreement among social-science and religious-studies scholars that religious traditions are invented, however, it is significant that little systematic attention has been paid to the invention process and its implications. The result is that the construction of religious reality has been privileged in ways granted to no other social form. From our perspective, religious myths and rituals through which socially constructed transcendent power is sacralized constitute one type of ideology – as Ann Swidler puts it, ‘‘a highly articulated, self-conscious belief and ritual system, aspiring to offer a unified answer to problems of social action.’’1 On one hand, mythic systems provide the largest cultural canvas on which human history and the human condition are depicted as linked to a transcendent source of power. On the other, ritual systems create the means by which transcendent power is realized, accessed, and negotiated. A fundamental problem posed for religion by the social-constructivist approach is that, though they are conceived in a variety of ways, religious claims often involve the existence of transcendent power that operates independent of the everyday world humans occupy.2 If human beings construct the transcendent as separate from and independent of human action, then the social-construction process must remain unrecognized if 1 2

Swidler, ‘‘Culture in Action,’’ p. 279. See Turner, ‘‘Transformation, Hierarchy, and Transcendence.’’

96

The invention of a counter-tradition

97

the transcendent is to possess the independent power attributed to it. In functionalist interpretations like Berger’s,3 this problem is resolved by proposing that over time humans ‘‘forget’’ their own agency, that this agency is gradually buried in the accumulated sediment of cultural tradition. We prefer an interpretation grounded in the critical-theory tradition, which asserts that humans actively mystify their own social constructions, cloaking their activities in a variety of justifications, rationalizations, and, not infrequently, obfuscations. This approach has the benefit of permitting more intentional exploration of the specific actions human beings take to distance themselves from their own socially creative activity. From this perspective, mystification is a key component of the strategic, problemsolving enterprise that insulates the social-construction process from the conclusion that the whole project is of human design and manufacture. This analytic stance allows us to explore the specific interests, stakes, and problems that shape the construction process. Because they are literally religions-in-the-making, new religious movements (NRMs) offer a particularly fruitful source of insight into the processes by which religion is socially constructed. Creating any social world or social reality yields two principal components: an ‘‘inside’’ that believers inhabit, and, either implicitly or explicitly, an ‘‘outside,’’ which is often defined as anything that exists beyond the boundaries of the newly defined social world. Since religion often incorporates the foundational premises upon which the social order is based, and new religions just as often challenge these premises, when new religious traditions emerge, it is relatively common for them to encounter intense opposition from those who perceive their own interests at stake. The greater the challenge posed by a new religious form, the more likely it is that those who are bounded out of the new religious tradition will regard insiders as deviant and dangerous. While we recognize that this is something of a ‘‘mirror problem,’’ and that the issue of being an ‘‘insider’’ or an ‘‘outsider’’ is a matter of perspective, the emergence of new religious traditions offers a valuable opportunity to explore the invention of intentional and explicit countertraditions. In this chapter we examine, as a case study in the invention of a countertradition, the development of the anti-cult movement (ACM) in North America, a counter-movement that first arose in opposition to NRMs in the 1970s. The ACM was not novel, as organized, hostile, and repressive responses to new movements have been a persistent feature of North 3

See Berger, Sacred Canopy.

98

DAVID G. BROMLEY AND DOUGLAS E. COWAN

American religious history.4 Although the ACM followed the same general strategy as its predecessors in asserting that not all religious groups were alike, it posited a previously unrecognized set of dangerous, pseudoreligious groups (‘‘cults’’) that distinguished themselves through the use of a novel psychotechnology (‘‘brainwashing’’) capable of undermining individuals’ capacity for autonomous, voluntaristic, self-directed action.5 In this instance, the counter-tradition mythology was not contained in a single text, but rather in a broader ‘‘cult/brainwashing’’ ideology that was invented in a number of separate texts and gradually coalesced into a controlling worldview.6 Rather than focusing on specific texts (which are themselves the products of the invention process), our concern is with the dynamics of invention, the factors that shaped the form of the ideology. Invention can occur in a variety of ways. In the anti-cult movement, invention was accomplished through discovery, the process through which actors invent ideology while mystifying their own participation in that process. Mystification is effected through partitioning and linking. The former insulates connections that would negate the ideology, while the latter establishes connections that validate the ideology. A number of institutions (political, economic, medical) might have discovered the ‘‘cult’’ problem, and indeed there was some opposition from all of these sources. However, it was the families of those who joined new religions, those whose interests were most directly contravened, that led the discovery process. Because families were confronted by groups claiming religious status, and movement adherents professing genuine religious conversion, the initial construction of the problem centered around the legitimacy of these individual affiliations with NRMs. In order to counter the almost a priori moral standing of religious claims made by NRMs, the new problem assumed an extreme ideological form, which we term subversion ideology. By ‘‘subversion’’ we refer to manipulating central principles of the form and logic of a structure of social relations so as to destroy the integrity and viability of that structure. Put another way, subversives undermine and reinterpret the core bonding principles in a human community, transforming individuals within that community into their alien opposites. Good becomes evil; religious choice becomes coercive brainwashing; a new religion becomes a cult. Labeling individuals 4 5 6

See Bellah and Greenspahn, Uncivil Religion; Cowan, Bearing False Witness? See Lewis, Legitimating New Religions. See, e.g., Appel, Cults in America; Conway and Siegelman, Snapping; Langone, Recovery from Cults; Rudin and Rudin, Prison or Paradise?; Singer, with Lalich, Cults in Our Midst.

The invention of a counter-tradition

99

and groups as subversive is an extreme form of symbolic degradation intended to legitimate extreme measures of social control. THE CONTEXT OF THE CONTROVERSY

One way to gain perspective on the significance of the invention of the ACM counter-tradition is to consider the relatively mundane nature of the problem faced by oppositional groups. A fairly quotidian description of the patterns that scholars have observed in the study of new religious movements offers useful background against which the development of counter-tradition ideology can be understood.7 In the 1960s and 1970s, North America witnessed a proliferation of religious and quasi-religious groups, communes, and intentional communities. The primary recruiting pool for NRMs consisted of well-educated, middle-class young people who were transitioning from adolescence to adulthood, a period historically characterized by youthful rebellion. Temporarily at least, these young people rejected conventional educational and occupational paths for participation in a number of these religious movements. Because of the youth counter-culture that blossomed during the 1960s and 1970s, this pool of young adults was particularly large, and in many respects NRMs constituted the continuation of protest groups that advocated racial and gender equality, free speech, and students’ rights on university campuses, and opposition to American military involvement in Vietnam and repressive drug laws. The end of the Vietnam War, a concomitant erosion of countercultural protest, and the failure of the counter-culture to produce viable long-term lifestyle alternatives increased the attractiveness of experimentation with new religious movements.8 A large number of young adults came into contact with NRMs during this period. While the vast majority showed no interest in these movements, a small minority did choose to affiliate with one movement or another, either temporarily or on a more permanent basis. Rather than drawing a simplistic profile of the ‘‘cult follower,’’ research indicates that individuals who were attracted to NRMs exhibited a diverse array of involvement motives and patterns.9 These experimental relationships typically lasted only a few weeks or months, and only a tiny fraction of those

7

8

See, e.g., Bromley and Hadden, Handbook of Cults; Dawson, Comprehending Cults; Saliba, Social Science and the Cults. See Kent, From Slogans to Mantras. 9 See Lofland and Skonovd, ‘‘Conversion Motifs.’’

100

DAVID G. BROMLEY AND DOUGLAS E. COWAN

who experienced some kind of initial contact with a new religion remained connected after one or two years.10 Among the earliest NRMs to attract notoriety were Unificationism, the Children of God, and the Hare Krishna movement. Rather than being entirely new phenomena, though, these were simply the latest in a long line of new religious groups that have formed in every era of American history and have been regarded as religious ‘‘outsiders’’ by the dominant culture.11 The public controversy over these NRMs emerged primarily in the wake of their aggressive, national-level recruitment campaigns, which produced rapid growth beginning around 1970. The apparent rejection of family ties and secular careers in favor of religious commitment and careers generated intense opposition from families of NRM converts. By and large, however, these new religious careers were brief, and most former NRM members soon resumed conventional educational, occupational, and domestic pursuits. Ironically perhaps, during their NRM experimentation, affiliates often exhibited a variety of behaviors that parents sought to inculcate with only mixed success: respect for authority, hard work, religiosity, regulated sexual activity, and renunciation of drug use. From a longerterm perspective, then, participation in NRMs was compatible with the later adoption of conventional lifestyles.12 Since disaffiliation rates very nearly matched affiliation rates, the new religious movements that triggered public controversy never achieved substantial membership size. Periods of growth occurred largely when high recruitment rates temporarily outstripped defection rates. NRMs typically exhibited the kind of tenuousness and instability associated with fledgling enterprises of all kinds, and many struggled for survival. Although most managed to create some form of institutionalized organizational structures, most also have not developed a sustainable lifestyle that has generated any kind of broad appeal. THE SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION OF ANTI-CULT MYTHOLOGY

The initial wave of NRM recruits triggered an almost immediate response from their families. These families gradually discovered one another, and began to coordinate efforts to contact recruits, usually sons and daughters, 10 11

12

See Barker, Making of a Moonie; Galanter, Cults and New Religious Movements. See Bednarowski, New Religions; Jenkins, Mystics and Messiahs; Moore, Religious Outsiders; Stein, Communities of Dissent. See Robbins, Anthony, and Curtis, ‘‘Youth Culture and Religious Movements.’’

The invention of a counter-tradition

101

and extract them from movements with which they had affiliated. The first of these ad hoc oppositional groups mobilized against the Children of God (now The Family International). Over the next several years, religious opposition to NRMs developed through the evangelical counter-cult movement, and secular opposition through the anti-cult network.13 The anti-cult network, which is the primary focus of attention here, gradually broadened its opposition to include a range of NRMs and built a national organizational structure, most notably the Cult Awareness Network and the American Family Foundation (now the International Cultic Studies Association). These two anti-cult groups formed the core of opposition and jointly invented the mythic and ritual forms that constitute the current counter-tradition. A quotidian description of the early history of many NRMs would have significantly undermined the ACM goals of (1) recovering movement affiliates and (2) discrediting the movements themselves. In attempting to invent a mythology that would position it to counter NRMs effectively, the ACM engaged in a strategic problem-solving enterprise that was aimed at defending its interests and addressing the specific problems presented in confronting NRMs. This enterprise involved (1) discovering the unprecedented existence of a set of pseudo-religious ‘‘cults’’ and identifying their characteristics; (2) discovering brainwashing, the process through which individual autonomy and voluntarism were subverted; (3) discovering the subversive qualities of ‘‘cults’’ that morally distanced them from conventional institutions and heightened perceptions of their dangerousness; and (4) discovering evidence for cultic brainwashing. It should be noted that these are not discrete aspects of the invention process that operate independently of one another. Rather, they are interdependent and mutually reinforcing, and together construct the myth and ritual of the countermovement. Discovering subversive groups The initial strategic issue facing the ACM involved the creation of a category of subversive groups, and the collection of NRMs under this category so that they could be contested as a set. In this regard, the ACM faced the problem of the sheer diversity of NRMs, and the cultural connections of new religions to established religious traditions. For example, the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) 13

Cowan, Bearing False Witness?; Shupe and Bromley, New Vigilantes.

102

DAVID G. BROMLEY AND DOUGLAS E. COWAN

derives from Bengali Hinduism; Happy, Healthy, Holy (3HO) from Sikhism; Soka Gakkai and Aum Shinrikyoˆ from Buddhism; the Gurdjieff Foundation from Sufism; Mahikari from Shintoism; ECKANKAR from Sant Mat; the Church Universal and Triumphant from Theosophy; the Rae¨lians from the larger UFO tradition; the Branch Davidians from Seventh-Day Adventism; and The Family International from the Jesus People movement. From a cultural standpoint, then, few new religions were completely ‘‘new.’’ Typically, however, they were new organizationally, and movements exhibited different individualistic and communal orientations, various levels of demand upon adherents, and a range of leadership styles and authority.14 The anti-cult movement resolved these problems by partitioning NRMs from established religious traditions, and linking them to one another through putative ‘‘cultic’’ characteristics. Claiming to have discovered a new genus of pseudo-religious ‘‘cults,’’ the ACM proposed that all these new and sinister groups shared basic underlying traits that distinguished them from ‘‘authentic’’ religious groups. For example, two leading anticult activists described ‘‘cults’’ organizationally in terms of the following characteristics: (1) authoritarian leaders who claim a special mission and/or knowledge, (2) a charismatic, dominant leadership style, (3) leaders’ claims to total allegiance, (4) claims to an innovative and exclusive answer to individual and societal problems, (5) an ‘‘ends justifies the means’’ logic that justifies manipulation of outsiders, (6) totalistic ideological and behavioral control over members, and (7) a major transformation of lifestyle.15

Nearly two decades earlier, Shapiro created a similar profile. In his characterization, a subversive new religion (1) Demands complete obedience to and subservience to one individual, who purports to be God, the Messiah or some form of, or a messenger of, the deity; (2) Requires separation from society. Association with nonmembers is discouraged, except to gain money or to proselytize; (3) Discourages any form of self-development. Education is scorned and the self-image is totally destroyed; (4) Teaches hatred of parents, organized religion, and sometimes, the US government; (5) Does not have concern for the material body; feels only the soul is important; (6) Takes all material possessions (past, present and future) for its own use. Members are not permitted to own anything in their own names; (7) Makes it almost impossible 14

15

See Hargrove, ‘‘Integrative and Transformative Religions’’; Lofland and Richardson, ‘‘Religious Movement Organizations’’; Wallis, Elementary Forms of the New Religious Life; Westley, Complex Forms. Singer, with Lalich, Cults in Our Midst, pp. 8–9.

The invention of a counter-tradition

103

for a member to leave, either through physical restraints or psychologic fears; (8) Maintains the member in a ‘‘brainwashed’’ state through destructive behavior modification techniques.16

Louis West, a psychiatrist affiliated with the anti-cult movement, put the matter rather more directly, stating that cults are as ‘‘as much a perversion of the meaning of religion as the quack is a perversion of the meaning of the medical oath.’’17 In the process of asserting the novelty and insidiousness of cultic subversion, the ACM essentially reinvented earlier episodes of subversion fears. There was a long history, for example, of strikingly similar allegations of subversion against groups such as Mormons and Catholics in the nineteenth century.18 However, the ACM needed to partition such historical comparisons in order to demonstrate the novelty of its own claims about new religions. An important component of discovering the ‘‘cult’’ threat, therefore, was the assertion that these ‘‘pseudo-religious’’ groups were unprecedented in North American history, and, hence, had gone unrecognized. Conway and Siegelman, for instance, wrote that ‘‘our culture has never witnessed transformation of precisely this kind before . . . Because we have not previously encountered such virulent evil, we are virtually defenseless against these new subversion tactics.’’19 They add that ‘‘the cult experience and its accompanying state of mind defies all legal precedents. It has also taken the mental-health profession by surprise.’’20 Once the concept of ‘‘cults’’ was invented as a unique category of religious experience, maintaining it proved an ongoing challenge for the anti-cult movement. On the one hand, some of the characteristics attributed to ‘‘cults’’ also described certain features of more conventional religious groups, such as convents and monasteries, intentional communities, and sectarian and fundamentalist Christian churches. The ACM sought to obviate these comparisons by linking ‘‘cult’’ characteristics to nefarious motives on the part of new religious leadership and deviant recruiting practices on the part of members – both of which, presumably, did not apply to more conventional groups. On the other hand, while the number of suspect groups kept growing, the ACM did not gather independent information on ‘‘cults.’’ Rather, anticult activists routinely avoided any contact with groups designated as 16 18

19

Shapiro, ‘‘Destructive Cultism,’’ p. 83. 17 West, ‘‘Contemporary Cults,’’ p. 13. See Arrington and Haupt, ‘‘Intolerable Zion’’; Billington, Origins of Nativism; Bromley and Shupe, Strange Gods; Bunker and Bitton, ‘‘Mesmerism and Mormonism’’; Cox, ‘‘Deep Structures’’; Davis, ‘‘Some Themes of Counter-Subversion.’’ Conway and Siegelman, Snapping, p. 37. 20 Ibid., p. 59.

104

DAVID G. BROMLEY AND DOUGLAS E. COWAN

‘‘cults’’ – partly to keep from legitimating these groups, and partly to avoid calling into question their basic contention that cultic brainwashing could be subversive to anyone. Even if it was so inclined, members of the anti-cult movement could not conduct independent research on ‘‘cults,’’ since no target groups would cooperate in research that had a predetermined, hostile outcome. At the outset of the controversy over NRMs, when the ACM’s focus was on the Children of God, Unificationism, and Krishna Consciousness, the problem of identifying essential ‘‘cult’’ characteristics was mitigated by the fact that all three groups were communal, and therefore shared a number of similar organizational attributes. As the number and diversity of groups the ACM targeted as ‘‘cults’’ increased, the singular category became much less tenable and its invented qualities considerably more evident. Groups were often listed as ‘‘cults’’ simply on the basis of critical media reports or the allegations of ex-members. Since few (if any) movements conformed to the full profile of a ‘‘cult’’ as constructed by the ACM, movements might be designated ‘‘groups of concern’’ if they possessed any of the characteristics listed as ‘‘cultic.’’ Discovering the subversive process Simply establishing the putative illegitimacy of ‘‘cults’’ did not necessarily invalidate individual affiliations with them. Once the category was constructed, however, the second strategic issue in inventing the ‘‘cult’’ problem was discovering how subversion occurred. Discovering the process all ‘‘cults’’ employed to subvert individuals provided the rationale for linking NRMs together as a conceptual unit. In making a case for subversion, the ACM was faced with NRMs claiming religious status and members willing to declare publicly both the voluntarism and authenticity of their affiliations. By rediscovering the brainwashing tradition, and deploying it as a component of the subversion process, anti-cult activists challenged the authenticity of affiliations as true religious conversions. The ACM linked so-called cultic brainwashing to studies of prisoners of war during the Korean War and inmates in Chinese re-education camps in the aftermath of the Communist revolution.21 The most immediate problem with this linkage was that the Korean and Chinese programs employed intense physical coercion. The ACM, therefore, declared that it had discovered a new and even more sinister form of brainwashing, one that did not require 21

See Hunter, Brainwashing in Red China; Lifton, Thought Reform; Schein, ‘‘Chinese Indoctrination Program.’’

The invention of a counter-tradition

105

the kind of physical coercion used in Korea and China. In making its case, the ACM sought to delineate the distinctive features of cultic brainwashing and its debilitating impact on the individuals subjected to it. According to anti-cult activists Richard Ofshe and Margaret Singer, for example, thought-reform techniques could be distinguished in terms of ‘‘first and second generations of interest,’’22 with the latter constituting a potent attack on the core as opposed to the periphery of the self. Second generation programs of coercive influence and behavior control appear to directly attack the core sense of being – the central self-image, the very sense of realness and existence of the self. In contrast, the attack of first generation programs is on the peripheral property of self, one’s political and social views . . . The inner person was not the focus of attack. The newer programs can make the target feel that the ‘‘core me’’ is defective.23

Journalists Conway and Siegelman adopted a similar line. They proclaimed that Our culture has never witnessed transformation of precisely this kind before . . . This historically unprecedented process can be distinguished from brainwashing, which was designed simply to change political belief and induce full cooperation among Chinese citizens and captive Westerners.24

Whether the subversion process is labeled thought reform, coercive persuasion, mind control, or brainwashing, its result was that individuals allegedly lost their capacity for autonomous, voluntaristic, self-directed activity, that is, their free will. For example, Appel asserted that, ‘‘combined with mind-altering techniques – chanting, hypnotic training routines, talking in tongues – and in the context of group pressure, [these processes] constitute a form of conditioning to break down the individual.’’25 The results were described as both visible and dramatic: linguistic changes (e.g. truncated vocabulary); monotonic, inflection-free voice level; fixed, permanent smile (i.e. ‘‘with mouth only’’); glassy eyes and dilated pupils; facial skin rash (allegedly due to a vitamin A deficiency in the diet); ill-fitting, cheap, out-of-style clothing; overall physical debilitation (gaunt facial appearance, hollow eyes); hyperactivity, extreme nervousness, and a hunched frame.26 The brainwashing ideology allowed the ACM to ignore the diversity of individual motives and social pathways that characterized NRM affiliations, and to reduce them to a unitary, pathological process. However, while the ACM attempted to partition its ideology from research findings 22 25

Ofshe and Singer, ‘‘Attacks,’’ p. 18. 23 Ibid. 24 Conway and Siegelman, Snapping, 37. Appel, Cults in America, 20. 26 Shupe and Bromley, New Vigilantes, 255.

106

DAVID G. BROMLEY AND DOUGLAS E. COWAN

on NRM affiliations,27 its brainwashing argument collided with a number of empirical observations that made the thesis difficult to sustain. First, the Korean and Chinese ‘‘brainwashing’’ programs upon which ACM claims were based were not, in fact, successful in producing changes in loyalty. Only a handful of the thousands of American servicemen who faced extreme cruelty, torture, and death in Korea defected, and the Chinese re-education programs did not produce any converts attributable to the re-education process itself. Indeed, Edgar Schein, who conducted some of the most widely cited work in this area, has observed that, ‘‘considering the effort devoted to it . . . the Chinese program was a failure.’’28 From this perspective, the brainwashing argument was based on failed experiments. Second, even when new religions have employed aggressive recruitment strategies, only a tiny minority of those approached have agreed to even a preliminary relationship with the movement. Of those who initially affiliate, most maintain a member relationship for only a brief period. Defections began immediately, and the evidence indicates that only a tiny minority of recruits remain after a year.29 Third, as new groups were labeled ‘‘cults,’’ the ACM simply added their various recruitment and socialization practices to the growing catalogue of mind-control techniques, stretching the concept of brainwashing to include an ever broader array of religious practices – including lectures, workshops, chanting, auditing, meditating, and speaking in tongues. The practical implication of this aggregating tactic was that assessments of specific organizational practices labeled as ‘‘brainwashing’’ were made by reasoning backward from a prior designation of suspect groups as ‘‘cults.’’ Fourth, if brainwashing was as effective as the ACM alleged, it should have produced similar effects on any target individual, and should not have been counter-influenced by cultural factors or conditions. However, on the one hand, the empirical evidence indicates that NRMs were effective in recruiting only young adults, and only a very small percentage of those with whom they came in contact. On the other hand, the empirical evidence also reveals that NRMs initially targeted by the ACM recruited most successfully during the period of counter-cultural unrest in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and that recruitment rates plummeted thereafter. Finally, while increased experience with recruitment strategies should have produced more effective recruitment, the pattern was in fact the reverse. 27 28 29

See, e.g., Snow, ‘‘Sociology of Conversion.’’ Schein, ‘‘Chinese Indoctrination Program,’’ p. 322. See Barker, Making of a Moonie; Galanter, Cults and New Religious Movements.

The invention of a counter-tradition

107

Fifth, presumably brainwashing is a sophisticated process that requires extensive training. During the years when NRMs grew most rapidly, however, most NRM members were novices, and were involved in proselytization efforts within a few weeks of the time they first encountered these groups. Sixth, if it is alleged that numerous new religious groups have recruited and retained members through a process of brainwashing, it is necessary to explain how these groups both acquired and implemented such procedures. Given the very divergent histories, geographical origins, theologies, organizational structures, and lack of contact among these groups, there is no plausible explanation for this occurrence. Seventh, control over various types of deviant behavior has been a primary goal of highly trained professionals (correctional officers, social workers, therapists) who have at their disposal sophisticated knowledge, extensive training, and in many cases either the coercive power of the state or the voluntary cooperation of the client. Despite such expertise and resources, the overall record for behavioral reform programs has been uniformly poor. It seems implausible that neophyte members of nascent new religions, operating without such knowledge and training, would succeed where these professionals have failed. In essence, apart from ACM claims, there was little evidence to support the brainwashing argument. Anti-cult activists addressed this problem in two ways, both of which partitioned its own claims from countervailing findings. First, it engaged in its own independent knowledge production. The two major anti-cult organizations – the American Family Foundation and the Cult Awareness Network – sponsored conferences and publications supporting its subversion ideology. The findings in these forums were used to counter those produced by social scientists studying NRMs. Second, anti-cult activists engaged in a campaign to undermine the credibility of those scholars by labeling them ‘‘cult apologists.’’30 NRM scholars were thereby linked to NRMs as partisan advocates whose findings were portrayed as cult-sponsored research. Discovering subversive qualities Discovering subversion involved both maximizing the moral distance between conventional society and new religions, and hyperbolizing the danger they posed. To widen the moral distance between society and 30

See Beit-Hallahmi, ‘‘‘O Truant Muse’’’; Kent and Krebs, ‘‘Academic Compromise’’; Lewis, Legitimating New Religions.

108

DAVID G. BROMLEY AND DOUGLAS E. COWAN

‘‘cults,’’ the ACM sacralized the former and demonized the latter. Because the family is of primary interest to the ACM, anti-cult activists asserted that the family, and only the family, had the right and the responsibility to socialize youth and to manage the transition from childhood to adulthood. The family was sacralized by claiming family loyalty as an ultimate value and by repudiating any claims that commitment to other social groups could supersede family loyalty. As West and Singer posed the problem, ‘‘While protecting religious freedom, how can society protect the family as a social institution from the menace of the cults as a competing superfamily?’’31 ‘‘Cults’’ were depicted as groups that would deliberately undermine familial loyalties. As one parent reported, ‘‘She didn’t even send her father a birthday card . . . She said she didn’t even consider us her real parents, only her physical parents.’’32 A former ‘‘cult’’ member raised a much more horrific scenario in a media interview: ‘‘He was taught that if parents stand in the way of your duty to God (belonging to the cult), killing the parents would be permissible.’’33 The primary means through which the ACM created the subversive qualities of ‘‘cults’’ was to partition legitimate from illegitimate religions by linking the latter to nefarious motives and abusive practices. Anti-cult activists also depicted ‘‘cults’’ as groups that exploited followers in order to amass power or wealth for new religious leaders. West and Singer commented on the ‘‘lack of sincerity’’ of ‘‘cults,’’ asserting that ‘‘many cults demonstrate extreme interest in financial or political aggrandizement, rather than the spiritual development of the faithful.’’34 They simplistically distinguished ‘‘cults’’ from more legitimate religions that have ‘‘theological or moral motives, rather than avarice, personal convenience, or a desire for power.’’35 On another occasion, Singer offered a more graphic view of the exploitive character of ‘‘cults’’: After talking with over 700 ex- and current cult members, none have told me that they set out to find a guru or a messiah who would set them up in prostitution, flower-selling, cocaine-dealing, gun smuggling, child abuse, or living off garbage. These were merely naive, friendly, trusting, altruistic people hoping to make friends and to help make a better world.36

The danger posed by subversive ‘‘cults’’ was heightened by dramatically overstating the membership size and recruitment rates of NRMs. Social 31 33 34 36

West and Singer, ‘‘Cults, Quacks,’’ p. 3252. 32 Shupe and Bromley, New Vigilantes, 42. Bromley, Shupe, and Ventimiglia, ‘‘Role of Anecdotal Atrocities,’’ p. 150. West and Singer, ‘‘Cults, Quacks,’’ p. 3252. 35 Ibid. Quoted in Bromley, ‘‘ISKCON,’’ p. 274.

The invention of a counter-tradition

109

scientists who studied the new religions in the United States that triggered the cult controversy have concluded that none of these groups achieved a full-time American adult membership of more than about 10,000. In part, though, the ACM was able to make inflated membership size claims because the new religions themselves typically exaggerated their membership as a means of demonstrating the truth and appeal of their message. It was not uncommon, therefore, for the ACM to create an alarmist scenario, and anti-cult estimates of the membership of both the Unificationist movement and ISKCON were as high as 250,000 members each in 1978, and 400,000 and 375,000, respectively, in 1981.37 Because the ACM also inflated the number of suspect groups, the combination of inflated estimates produced a daunting picture of total cult membership. Singer, for example, estimated that ‘‘there are 2 to 3 million people in these groups.’’38 Based on these kinds of projections, ACM spokespersons could present ‘‘cults’’ as constituting a major and growing threat, a clear and present danger, as it were. Indeed, in congressional testimony one spokesperson compared religious cults to the Nazi youth movement: Senator Dole, the last time I ever witnessed a movement that was totally monolithic, that was replete with fanatical followers prepared to do anything, that hated everyone outside and fostered suspicions of parents – the last time I saw this was the Nazi youth movement, and I tell you, I’m scared.39

Discovering evidence for cultic brainwashing In fact, the anti-cult movement had relatively little independent support for its cult brainwashing ideology, and there was considerable countervailing evidence. Since the ACM was not gathering information on NRMs directly, it was necessary to create an evidence base that would both provide compelling ground for its assertions and deflect challenges from its critics. One of the most immediate concerns of families that eventually founded anti-cult organizations was to recover family members affiliated with NRMs. This was the process that came to be known as ‘‘deprogramming,’’ which putatively reversed cultic programming, and became arguably one of the ACM’s most valuable resources in legitimating its brainwashing ideology. The process of extracting individuals from ‘‘cults’’ was invented serendipitously by Theodore (‘‘Ted’’) Patrick in response to entreaties from 37 39

Appel, Cults in America, pp. 12–13. 38 Rudin and Rudin, Prison or Paradise?, pp. 15–16. Shupe and Bromley, New Vigilantes, p. 249.

110

DAVID G. BROMLEY AND DOUGLAS E. COWAN

distressed family members for help in recovering their sons and daughters.40 Patrick developed a crude, hypnosis-based theory of brainwashing that provided legitimation for a ritualized process of extracting individuals first from the Children of God, but later from a range of other groups. Asserting that ‘‘brainwashed cultists’’ were incapable of independent, voluntaristic choice, Patrick typically abducted and physically restrained deprogrammees during the deprogramming process. Deprogrammees were treated as literally possessed, and as dangers both to themselves and to others.41 Resembling an exorcism, the deprogramming ritual was conceived of as a psychological ordeal, a struggle between the cult-imposed personality and the deprogrammee’s natural, pre-affiliation personality. Successful deprogramming, which culminated in the deprogramee confessing to having been brainwashed and disavowing religious movement affiliation, was interpreted as a victory of the latter personality over the former. The evidence from field research on NRMs and familial responses to NRM affiliations strongly suggests a more complicated view of deprogramming. NRM members were likely to enter the deprogramming event (and particularly coercive deprogrammings) with a variety of types and levels of commitment. Ambivalent about their own new religious commitments, they harbored both anger toward parents for abducting them, and guilt about potentially betraying either their movement compatriots or their family members. Parents were likely to enter the situation with feelings of confusion over their offspring’s seemingly irresponsible actions, anguish over the consequences of a decision to join a new religion, anger over the repudiation of family commitments, embitterment over what they perceived as the loss of investments made to provide opportunities for their children to lead productive lives, and embarrassment over the social stigma attached to having a family member in a ‘‘cult.’’ The predictable result was a deeply emotional, confrontational situation. As they gradually developed the process over a several-year period, deprogrammers experimented with a variety of tactics, and were, in this sense, inventing what it was they claimed they were discovering. In individual cases, deprogrammers utilized whichever tactics appeared most promising in producing capitulation by the deprogrammee. These tactics included physical restraint, threats of indefinite confinement, emotional pressure, appeals from family members, testimonials from former group members, rational argument, theological argument, and embarrassing media depictions of ‘‘cults.’’ 40

Patrick, with Dulack, Let Our Children Go!

41

Bromley, ‘‘ISKCON,’’ pp. 262–5.

The invention of a counter-tradition

111

Despite ACM claims that deprogramming involved a protracted and arduous struggle against cultic programming, the evidence suggests that in many cases deprogrammings were accomplished relatively easily. Novice NRM members often had limited knowledge of and limited loyalty to the movements they had joined, and hence were highly vulnerable to the intense pressure to which they were subjected during a deprogramming. Indeed, since the only acceptable solution from the deprogrammer and family member perspective was renunciation of movement membership, the success rate for deprogramming novice members was extremely high.42 Faced with the financial cost of deprogramming, the obvious disruption of family unity, the perceived rejection of one’s parents, and their concomitant parental embarrassment, a novice member’s admission of brainwashing was often the price of an acceptable resolution of the dispute. Deprogramming also offered several distinct dispute resolution advantages for the anti-cult movement. It stigmatized new religions. It avoided alternative categories, such as mental disorder, that would have followed members once they left a movement. It did not raise issues such as family disloyalty or poor parenting practices. And, perhaps most importantly, it cast both movement members and their families as victims of unscrupulous, exploitive new religious movements. Whether, at the end of the process, deprogrammed individuals actually believed that they had been brainwashed or simply accepted a brainwashing confession as the only feasible way to resolve the conflict situation was not important to the anti-cult movement. Successful deprogramming became the primary evidence that brainwashing had, in fact, taken place and that dangerous cults existed. Put simply, since individuals were successfully deprogrammed, they must have been previously programmed. Deprogrammed individuals frequently offered public testimony to their own inability to resist cult control, and gratitude to their parents for rescuing them. As one former member stated, ‘‘I was lucky my parents cared enough for me to reach out and grab me . . . There are many kids whose parents don’t care at all.’’43 Another stated: Here I would like to conclude that had it not been for the strong action of my parents in actually forcing me to be ‘‘deprogrammed’’ from this ‘‘brainwashed’’ state, I would still be a totally dedicated member. There was little way for me to break the bonds of their control on my own, and I would have continued to 42 43

Bromley, ‘‘ISKCON.’’ Bromley, Shupe, and Ventimiglia, ‘‘Role of Anecdotal Atrocities,’’ p. 157.

DAVID G. BROMLEY AND DOUGLAS E. COWAN

112

sacrifice myself, ready to lie, cheat, steal and kill for the cause of the cult. I am thankful that after ten months of blind submission I am now free of this system and its manipulation. I am deeply grateful to those people who worked behind my back and in spite of my protest to accomplish this.44

Former NRM members also testified how they had been brainwashed themselves, or how they had brainwashed others. For example, one former NRM member recounted his own victimization: She took my hand and looked me straight in the eyes. As her wide eyes gazed into mine, I felt myself rapidly losing control, being drawn to her by a strange and frightening force. I had never felt such mysterious power radiate from a human being before.45

Another former member described how he victimized others. He stated that ‘‘I learned to hypnotize people and went out to witness to bring in new people,’’ and claimed that he hypnotized recruitment targets on the street, when he would ‘‘walk up to them, stare at their eyes, get their attention and hold their attention.’’46 Thus, deprogramming and deprogrammed individuals became a critical resource for the anti-cult movement. On the one hand, deprogrammed individuals offered dramatic, personal testimonies that they had been brainwashed. These testimonies provided the ACM with a means to generate a knowledge base that it could control and shape both to support its ideology and to partition critical assessments of ACM ideology by NRM scholars. On the other hand, the deprogramming process also hid from public view the complex processes involved in NRM member affiliation and disaffiliation. Those complexities were now reduced to simple and emotionally potent narratives of subversion and rescue. Since their dramatic, first-person accounts fit well with media criteria of newsworthiness, deprogrammee testimony also proved a particularly valuable resource as a staple in journalistic accounts of ‘‘cults.’’ CONCLUSIONS

We have argued that the appearance of the NRMs that triggered the cult controversy in the early 1970s did not constitute a major social crisis. The appearance of new religious movements has been a persistent feature of the North American religious landscape, and NRMs at that time largely

44

Ibid.

45

Edwards, Crazy for God, 60.

46

Shupe and Bromley, New Vigilantes, pp. 202–3.

The invention of a counter-tradition

113

constituted a continuation of counter-cultural protest movements. Relatively few young adults expressed interest in NRMs, fewer joined, and most of those who experimented with a movement departed within a few weeks or months. For the families of those who joined an NRM, however, affiliation did constitute a family crisis. In seeking to transform their private troubles into a public issue, these families were compelled to counter both a quotidian interpretation of NRMs and the movements’ own claims to protected religious status. This transformation was accomplished by inventing a subversion ideology through which the anticult movement converted new religions into dangerous, pseudo-religious ‘‘cults,’’ and thereby raised the level of its own moral claims. Inventing this subversion ideology involved strategic problem-solving activity through which the ACM discovered (1) subversive groups (cults), (2) the subversion process (brainwashing), (3) the subversive qualities of cults (nefarious, exploitive practices), and (4) evidence of subversion (testimonies of former members who allied with the ACM). Primarily, the discovery process involved partitioning and linking operations through which anti-cult ideology could be developed and maintained. Through these processes, NRMs were both partitioned from established, legitimated religious traditions and linked to one another as ‘‘cults’’ through discovery of cultic characteristics. By linking ‘‘cults’’ to nefarious motives, however, they were further partitioned from conventional groups that exhibited similar characteristics. This ‘‘discovery’’ of cults allowed the ACM to claim to have unearthed an unprecedented and unrecognized public danger. New religious affiliations were partitioned from authentic religious conversions by linking those affiliations to brainwashing. In order to distinguish cultic brainwashing from its predecessors in Korea and China, the ACM ‘‘discovered’’ a new form of brainwashing that did not require physical coercion. Disconfirming evidence was partitioned by creating an independent system of knowledge production. The subversive qualities of ‘‘cults’’ were ‘‘discovered’’ by partitioning cultic from legitimate religious motivations, and linking cultic motivations to political ambitions, financial aggrandizement, and exploitation of followers. Key to maintaining the integrity of the anti-cult movement was the ‘‘discovery’’ of evidence that clearly substantiated the cult/brainwashing ideology. The ACM discovered such evidence through the creation of deprogramming. This ritualized mode of extracting NRM members from their movements partitioned the complexity of NRM affiliation and disaffiliation processes from public view and linked successful extractions and subsequent public

114

DAVID G. BROMLEY AND DOUGLAS E. COWAN

renunciations of membership to the validity of ACM ideology. By inventing these various elements of ACM ideology while presenting them as discoveries, the ACM effectively mystified its own role in inventing a counter-tradition. As is the case for the invention of all sacred traditions, the invention of counter-traditions involves a succession of challenges. And like many sacred traditions, the anti-cult movement enjoyed mixed success in the invention process. It was able to draw on the cultural credibility of brainwashing, new religious challenges to a range of social institutions, empathetic responses to family distress and appeals for assistance, testimonies of NRM apostates, and real incidents of exploitation within some NRMs. All of these factors combined to produce internal ACM solidarity. However, the ACM was much less successful in generating alliances with societal institutions that would have provided the countermovement with more clearly sanctioned authority. With the exception of the media, which found that family conflict and cultic subversion narratives matched the criteria for newsworthiness, major social institutions expressed sympathy but not formal support for the ACM. Legislatures held hearings at which ‘‘cults’’ were excoriated, but none passed ACM-sponsored legislation. Juries sided with aggrieved families in a number of cases, but appellate courts demurred at setting legal precedents that would have altered constitutional protection of religious liberty. Professional associations refused to grant ACM ideology the status of scientific knowledge. Police agencies refused to allow deprogrammers to appropriate the legitimate use of force. A number of established churches joined in the public condemnation of ‘‘cults,’’ but they did not endorse state intervention against NRMs. And so it went. In the end, much like most of the religious movements that it opposed, the ACM has managed to sustain a precarious organizational niche with limited social and cultural influence. REFERENCES

Appel, Willa, Cults in America: Programmed for Paradise (New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1981). Arrington, Leonard, and Jon Haupt, ‘‘Intolerable Zion: The Image of Mormonism in Nineteenth Century American Literature,’’ Western Humanities Review 22 (Summer 1968), pp. 243–60. Barker, Eileen, The Making of a Moonie: Choice or Brainwashing? (Oxford: Blackwell, 1984).

The invention of a counter-tradition

115

Bednarowski, Mary, New Religions and the Theological Imagination in America (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1989). Beit-Hallahmi, Benjamin, ‘‘‘O Truant Muse’: Collaborationism and Research Integrity,’’ in Benjamin Zablocki and Thomas Robbins (eds.), Misunderstanding Cults: Searching for Objectivity in a Controversial Field (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2001), pp. 35–70. Bellah, Robert, and Frederick Greenspahn (eds.), Uncivil Religion: Interreligious Hostility in America (New York: Crossroad Publishing, 1987). Berger, Peter, The Sacred Canopy: Elements of a Sociological Theory of Religion (New York: Anchor Books, 1967). Billington, Ray, The Origins of Nativism in the United States, 1800–1844 (New York: Arno Press, 1974). Bromley, David G., ‘‘Deprogramming as a Mode of Exit from New Religious Movements: The Case of the Unificationist Movement,’’ in David G. Bromley (ed.), Falling from the Faith: Causes and Consequences of Religious Apostasy (Newbury Park: Sage Publications, 1985), pp. 185–204. ‘‘ISKCON and the Anti-Cult Movement,’’ in David G. Bromley and Larry Shinn (eds.), Krishna Consciousness in the West (Lewisburg: Bucknell University Press, 1988), pp. 252–89. Bromley, David G., and Jeffrey K. Hadden (eds.), Handbook on Cults and Sects in America, 2 vols. (Greenwich, CT: Association for the Sociology of Religion, Society for the Scientific Study of Religion, and JAI Press, 1993). Bromley, David, and Anson Shupe, ‘‘Atrocity Tales, the Unification Church, and the Social Construction of Evil,’’ Journal of Communication 29 (1979), pp. 42–53. Strange Gods: The Great American Cult Scare (Boston, MA: Beacon Press, 1981). Bromley, David G., Anson Shupe, and Joseph Ventimiglia, ‘‘The Role of Anecdotal Atrocities in the Social Construction of Evil,’’ in David G. Bromley and James T. Richardson (eds.), The Brainwashing/Deprogramming Controversy: Sociological, Psychological, Legal and Historical Perspectives (New York: Edwin Mellen Press, 1984), pp. 139–60. Bunker, Gary, and Davis Bitton, ‘‘Mesmerism and Mormonism,’’ BYU Studies 15 (1975), pp. 146–70. Conway, Flo, and Jim Siegelman, Snapping: America’s Epidemic of Sudden Personality Change (Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott, 1979). Cowan, Douglas E., Bearing False Witness? An Introduction to the Christian Countercult (Westport, CT: Praeger, 2003). Cox, Harvey, ‘‘Deep Structures in the Study of New Religions,’’ in Jacob Needleman and George Baker (eds.), Understanding the New Religions (New York: Seabury Press, 1978), pp. 122–30. Davis, David Brion, ‘‘Some Themes of Counter-Subversion: An Analysis of AntiMasonic, Anti-Catholic, and Anti-Mormon Literature,’’ The Mississippi Valley Historical Review 47 (1960), pp. 205–24. Dawson, Lorne L., Comprehending Cults: The Sociology of New Religious Movements (Toronto: Oxford University Press, 1998).

116

DAVID G. BROMLEY AND DOUGLAS E. COWAN

Edwards, Christopher, Crazy for God (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1979). Galanter, Marc, Cults and New Religious Movements (Washington: American Psychiatric Association, 1989). Hargrove, Barbara, ‘‘Integrative and Transformative Religions,’’ in Jacob Needleman and George Baker (eds.), Understanding the New Religions (New York: Seabury Press, 1978), pp. 257–66. Hunter, Edward, Brainwashing in Red China: The Calculated Destruction of Men’s Minds (New York: Vanguard, 1953). Jenkins, Philip, Mystics and Messiahs: Cults and New Religions in American History (New York: Oxford University Press, 2000). Katchen, Martin, ‘‘Brainwashing, Hypnosis, and the Cults,’’ Australian Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis 20 (1992), pp. 79–88. Kent, Stephen, From Slogans to Mantras: Social Protest and Religious Conversion in the Late Vietnam Era (Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 2001). Kent, Stephen, and Theresa Krebs, ‘‘Academic Compromise in the Social Scientific Study of Alternative Religions,’’ Nova Religio 2/1 (1998), pp. 44–54. Langone, Michael D. (ed.), Recovery from Cults (New York: W. W. Norton, 1993). Lewis, James R., Legitimating New Religions (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2003). Lifton, Robert Jay, Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism (New York: W. W. Norton, 1963). Lofland, John, and James T. Richardson, ‘‘Religious Movement Organizations: Elemental Forms and Dynamics,’’ in L. Kriesberg (ed.), Research in Social Movements, Conflicts and Change (Greenwich, CT: JAI Press, 1984), pp. 29–51. Lofland, John, and Norman Skonovd, ‘‘Conversion Motifs,’’ Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 20 (1981), pp. 373–85. Moore, Laurence, Religious Outsiders and the Making of Americans (New York: Oxford University Press, 1985). Ofshe, Richard, and Margaret Singer, ‘‘Attacks on Peripheral versus Central Elements of Self and the Impact of Thought Reforming Techniques,’’ The Cultic Studies Journal 3 (1986), pp. 3–24. Patrick, Ted, with Tom Dulack, Let Our Children Go! (New York: Ballantine Books, 1976). Robbins, Thomas, Dick Anthony, and Curtis Thomas, ‘‘Youth Culture and Religious Movements: Evaluating the Integrative Hypothesis,’’ Sociological Quarterly 16 (1975), pp. 48–64. Rudin, A. James, and Marcia Rudin, Prison or Paradise? The New Religious Cults (Philadelphia, PA: Fortress Press, 1980). Saliba, John, Social Science and the Cults: An Annotated Bibliography (New York: Garland Publishers, 1990). Schein, Edgar, ‘‘The Chinese Indoctrination Program for Prisoners of War: A Study of Attempted Brainwashing,’’ in Eleanor Maccoby, Theodore Newcomb and Eugene Hartley, Readings in Social Psychology (New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1958), pp. 311–34.

The invention of a counter-tradition

117

Shapiro, Eli, ‘‘Destructive Cultism,’’ American Family Physician 15 (1977), pp. 80–3. Shupe, Anson, and David G. Bromley, The New Vigilantes: Deprogrammers, AntiCultists and the New Religions (Beverly Hills: Sage Publications, 1980). Singer, Margaret, with Janja Lalich, Cults in Our Midst: The Hidden Menace in Our Everyday Lives (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1995). Singer, Margaret, and Richard Ofshe, ‘‘Thought Reform Programs and the Production of Psychiatric Casualties,’’ Psychiatric Annals 20 (1990), pp. 188–93. Sirkin, Mark, and Lyman Wynne, ‘‘Cult Involvement as Relational Disorder,’’ Psychiatric Annals 20 (1990), pp. 199–203. Snow, David, ‘‘The Sociology of Conversion,’’ Annual Review of Sociology 10 (1984), pp. 167–90. Stein, Stephen, Communities of Dissent: A History of Alternative Religions in America (New York: Oxford University Press, 2003). Swidler, Ann, ‘‘Culture in Action: Symbols and Strategies.’’ American Sociological Review 51 (1986), pp. 273–86. Turner, Terence, ‘‘Transformation, Hierarchy and Transcendence: A Reformulation of Van Gennep’s Model of the Structure of Rites de Passage,’’ in Sally Moore and Barbara Myerhoff (eds.), Secular Ritual (Assen: Van Gorcum, 1977), pp. 53–70. Verdier, Paul A., Brainwashing and the Cults (Hollywood, CA: Wilshire Books, 1977). Wallis, Roy, Elementary Forms of the New Religious Life (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1984). West, Louis, ‘‘Contemporary Cults – Utopian Image, Infernal Reality,’’ The Center Magazine (March/April 1982), pp. 10–13. West, Louis, and Margaret Singer, ‘‘Cults, Quacks, and Nonprofessional Psychotherapies,’’ in Harold Kaplan, Alfred Freedman and Benjamin Sadock, Comprehensive Textbook of Psychiatry, I I I (Baltimore: Williams & Wilkins, 1980), pp. 3245–58. Westley, Frances, The Complex Forms of the New Religious Life (Chico, CA: Scholars Press, 1983). Zablocki, Benjamin, ‘‘Exit Cost Analysis: A New Approach to the Scientific Study of Brainwashing,’’ Nova Religio 1/2 (1998), pp. 216–49. Zimbardo, Philip, and Michael Leippe, The Psychology of Attitude Change and Social Influence (New York: McGraw Hill, 1991).

CHAPTER

6

‘‘Heavenly deception?’’ Sun Myung Moon and Divine Principle George D. Chryssides

‘‘Therefore,’’ declares the LO R D , ‘‘I am against the prophets who steal from one another words supposedly from me.’’ (Jeremiah 23:30)

Plagiarism has been in evidence since ancient times. Although it was considered permissible to copy and appropriate the writings of others, attributing to God the words of other human beings was beyond the pale, being arguably a violation of the third of the Ten Commandments, which proscribed the inappropriate use of the divine name (Exodus 20:7). However, not all accusations of forgery, plagiarism, and imitation are justified. The history of religion is rife with ‘‘sacred inventions,’’ and detractors from controversial religious organizations are often only too willing to believe in the inauthenticity of a group’s sacred texts. As James R. Lewis points out in his Legitimating New Religions, such accusations provide a plausible means of de-legitimating a religious movement. In this chapter I shall examine the accusation that Divine Principle – the key text of the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification (FFWPU, formerly the Unification Church, and popularly known as the ‘‘Moonies’’)1 – is unoriginal, and substantially derived from another source. Amid the various accusations that have been leveled against the Family Federation, it is tempting for critics to assume that this is yet another of the movement’s malpractices, and concepts such as ‘‘heavenly deception’’ – said to be a doctrine inherent in Unificationist theology – can easily lead to the conclusion that the FFWPU is comfortable with the belief that what is unacceptable by earthly standards can be justified if it is done for heavenly purposes. In what follows, I shall explore the grounds for the accusations of plagiarism. My argument will be that, whatever other criticisms might be 1

The FFWPU has been known by different names. In general, I propose to use the more familiar term ‘‘Unification Church’’ for the period before 1996, when it became the FFWPU. Originally it was known as the Holy Spirit Association for the Unification of World Christianity (HSA-UWC), a name under which it continues to be registered as a charity in Britain.

118

‘‘Heavenly deception’’

119

leveled against the FFWPU, this particular charge is unfounded. However, critics who do not wish to pursue the charge of outright plagiarism have offered weaker criticisms to the effect that the Divine Principle, its teachings, its leader, or the organization itself is ‘‘counterfeit.’’ I propose to address these charges as well as the plagiarism one. Accusations of plagiarism are harmful to religious organizations and their leaders for a variety of reasons. First, as every university student knows, an accusation of plagiarism is much more serious than an accusation that one’s ideas are unoriginal. Even the greatest thinkers depend on others for their ideas, but to pass off the ideas of others as one’s own, either by direct copying or by ‘‘substantial paraphrase,’’ is justifiably perceived as dishonest. In ancient society, it may have been legitimate enough for the writers of the synoptic gospels to copy one another’s texts: they received no royalties for their efforts, and presumably their highly derivative nature was justified on the grounds that the authentic transmission of a religious message took precedence over any aspirations to originality on the part of the writer. With twenty-first-century copyright laws, as well as the standards imposed in the worlds of academia and publishing, undue dependence on the work of other authors is reprehensible legally as well as morally. Secondly, accusations of plagiarism therefore serve to cast aspersions on the religious leader’s authority as well as on the integrity of the supposedly sacred text. Leaders of new religious movements are often regarded as charismatic, both inside and outside their organizations. Unsavory allegations undermine this authority: how can someone plausibly claim to be a prophet, a visionary, or – in Sun Myung Moon’s case – the messiah, if he or she fails to observe the expected norms of ethical behavior and the laws of the land? It is true, of course, that some religious leaders have engaged in licentiousness in order to demonstrate that they are ‘‘above the law,’’ but at least the failure to conform to societal norms requires justification and explanation. Claimed to be the present-day messiah, Sun Myung Moon is held to be free of sin, and hence accusations of improper behavior run counter to his followers’ perception of his status. Thirdly, accusations of plagiarism undermine any belief that a body of teaching comes through direct revelation. According to Unificationist teaching, Moon began his ministry as a result of a vision of Jesus Christ on a mountainside around Easter 1935,2 in which Jesus purportedly 2

There is some uncertainty about the date, partly due to the Korean method of defining one’s age, and partly because March 17 was Easter Day in neither 1935 nor 1936.

120

GEORGE D. CHRYSSIDES

commissioned him to complete his work, which remained unfinished during his earthly ministry. After having this revelation, Moon claimed to have had further encounters within the spirit world, including religious figures from other traditions, such as Confucius, Lao Tzu, and the Buddha, as well as God and Satan. The credibility of such accounts rapidly diminishes once it is suspected that they are derived from other people’s writings rather than from one’s own direct experience. An allegation of plagiarism is particularly damaging to a religion that is based on a claim to special revelation, for, if Moon did not in fact receive an inaugural vision, this vitiates his claim to be a special divine messenger – a claim that is vital, lying at the heart of Unification theology. As Jeremiah insisted, a prophecy cannot be a direct revelation from God if it is copied from another human source. Amid the plethora of public criticism of the Unification Church, it would vindicate opponents’ hostility if it could be demonstrated that the writings of founder-leader Sun Myung Moon were not the results of spiritual revelations, but merely the plagiarized transcriptions of another religious author. Perhaps surprisingly, there have been relatively few such criticisms of the Unification Church’s principal text, Divine Principle. The most accessible of these is in deprogrammer Ted Patrick’s autobiographical Let Our Children Go! Patrick writes: In the dining room, the reporter muses over a black book, resembling a Bible, entitled Divine Principle. It is incomprehensible. It reminds her of Mein Kampf. It is Sun Myung Moon’s variation on, and answer to, and substitute for, Holy Scripture. ‘‘Course nobody can understand the damn thing,’’ Joe Franklin drawls. ‘‘That’s the whole idea. Bernie’s never read it. They give them a study guide. It’s all just a pile of junk.’’ The premises of the book are convoluted. Divine Principle seems to be based on the interconnected theories that Christ was not God; that His mission on earth was not to die on the cross, but to breed a new race of men, free from sin; that His mission was aborted by His murder, and that Sun Myung Moon is the New Messiah sent to complete the mission Christ failed to accomplish. ‘‘Hell, even that ain’t original,’’ Franklin snorts. ‘‘We got a copy of a legal document from some group in Korea called the Monastery of Israel. You know, Moon is always saying Divine Principle was revealed to him by God. But these dudes in the Monastery of Israel are suing him because they say they wrote all that shit down thirty, forty years before Moon ever published Divine Principle. He stole it from them, word for word.’’3 3

Patrick and Dulack, Let Our Children Go!, pp. 28–9.

‘‘Heavenly deception’’

121

ORIGINS: KIM BAEK-MOON AND THE ISRAEL MONASTERY

Before considering this allegation – together with a small handful of others – it is necessary to provide an account of Sun Myung Moon’s encounter with the religious group from whom whose material Divine Principle is allegedly derivative, and the origins and development of the various Principle texts within the Unification Church. The alleged source of Moon’s ideas is a Korean religious leader by the name of Kim Baek-moon (1910–90).4 Kim Baek-moon’s group was known to Sun Myung Moon, who was a supporter for a time. The group was known under a variety of names: the Ch’eongsugyo (‘‘Pure Water Church’’), the Kwang Hae Church (‘‘Church of the Ocean of Light’’), the Israel Jesus Church, and the Israel Monastery. This variety of names is explained by the various branches of the movement that existed: the Ch’eongsugyo was based on the West coast, near Seoul, while the Israel Monastery was its retreat, so named because its residents were committed to a celibate lifestyle. The name Kwang Hae may be a misconstruction of the word Kwangya, meaning ‘‘wilderness’’ – an allusion to the fact that the congregation did not have built premises, but met out in the open. Whatever the explanation, Kim Baek-moon appears to have established the Israel Jesus Church in 1945, the year in which Sun Myung Moon joined the congregation. He was not one of the celibates, being married at that time to Choi Sun-kil, his first wife, although Sun-kil apparently disapproved of her husband’s allegiance to the group. Kim Baek-moon started a three-year seminary course in the same year, and is said to have become somewhat of a scholar. He authored three books: Songshin Shinhak (‘‘Theology of the Holy Spirit,’’ 1954), Kidokkyo Keunbon Wonri (‘‘The Fundamental Principle,’’ 1958), and, somewhat later, Shinang Inkyokron (‘‘Theory of the Nature of Faith,’’ 1970). Unfortunately, these works exist exclusively in Korean, thus precluding direct comparison with Divine Principle by the present author. However, it appears that Kim Baekmoon’s teachings included the notion of a sexual Fall, a new Adam who was needed to bring restoration, and the land of Korea as the New Israel which should await his second coming. The ethos of the Israel Jesus Church was ecstatic, although it is said that Kim Baek-moon himself was 4

I have generally adopted the practice of giving Korean names in their authentic form, with surname first, but I have made an exception of Sun Myung Moon, whose name is too well known its anglicized form. A number of other names are typically given in their non-Korean version, and I have left these unchanged in the text.

GEORGE D. CHRYSSIDES

122

quiet and scholarly; on March 2, 1946, it is reported, the Holy Spirit descended on the church, with the message, ‘‘You are Israel,’’ after which its leader was afforded numerous divine revelations on various occasions. Kim Baek-moon’s church appears to have attracted some fairly highprofile followers, including the wife of Chosun Ilbo’s owner (Chosun Ilbo is a Korean national newspaper), and the wife of Lee Bom-sak, who became the first Prime Minister of South Korea in 1948. A weekly attendance of around fifty followers was reported as late as the 1980s in Seoul. Unificationists claim that, on joining the Jesus Israel Church, Sun Myung Moon set about performing numerous menial tasks, in the spirit of a humble servant. Having already received his divine commission many years previously, and having received the Principle from the spirit world, he anticipated that Kim Baek-moon would recognize him as the Second Adam, and regarded the ‘‘You are Israel’’ prophecy as referring to himself. It is said that, as a member of the congregation, Sun Myung Moon would ask probing questions, despite his lack of formal theological training, and Kim Baek-moon was evidently sufficiently impressed to acknowledge that he had ‘‘profound spiritual wisdom.’’ However, Kim Baek-moon would go no further in elevating Sun Myung Moon’s status; no acknowledgment that he might be the messiah was forthcoming. According to Unificationist teaching, Kim Baek-moon had been placed in the ‘‘John the Baptist position,’’ with the divinely appointed task of heralding and proclaiming the new messiah. However, just as John the Baptist forsook Jesus, history was to repeat itself and Sun Myung Moon found himself without his appointed harbinger. THE CLAIMED ORIGINS OF DIVINE PRINCIPLE

In order to consider the possible relationship between Divine Principle and Kim Baek-moon’s teachings, I shall now explore the stages by which Moon’s theology was put into writing – a topic that is well documented by Jin-Choon Kim.5 In order to understand the process, it is important at the outset to distinguish between ‘‘The Principle’’ and Divine Principle. The former term is used by Unificationists to refer to the revelations that they believe were afforded to Sun Myung Moon, together with Moon’s systematic theological interpretation of them. Divine Principle is the central text, which collects together the Principle.

5

Kim, ‘‘Study.’’

‘‘Heavenly deception’’

123

Unificationists hold that Moon’s role in obtaining the Principle was an active, not a passive one. Moon had to struggle within the spirit world to obtain the spiritual truths that it comprises. His most difficult task was grappling with Satan, in an attempt to elucidate the account of the ‘‘Fall of Man.’’ According to Unificationist teaching, the original Fall of humankind was not due to Adam and Eve eating the fruit of a forbidden tree, but rather was due to Eve, who was then only sixteen years of age, being enticed into a sexual relationship with Satan. God’s plan was that Adam and Eve should mature and grow to completion, before marrying and giving birth to sinless children who would live under God’s dominion. Moon’s problem was forcing Satan to admit this, but apparently he succeeded by asking subtle questions that progressively elicited the information. Believing that he had finally received the Principle in its totality, he presented it, first to various spirits, then to Confucius, Lao Tzu, and Jesus, then finally to God, seeking verification. They all rejected it, but Moon persevered, and on his third attempt secured the divine authentication that he had sought. (Asking a question three times has precedent in Buddhist tradition, with which at least some Koreans would be familiar: Mahayana Buddhism teaches that, if a buddha is asked a question three times, he is obliged to give an answer.) At first, Moon’s dissemination of the Principle was by preaching, either in the open air or within a number of small but like-minded Korean ‘‘New Christian’’ groups, including the Israel Monastery. In June 1946 Moon traveled to North Korea, and was imprisoned for ‘‘advocating chaos in society’’ and sent to a labor camp in Hungnam. After the outbreak of the Korean War, the camp was liberated by UN forces in October 1950, and Moon journeyed, together with two former supporters, Kim Won-pil and Pak Chong-hwa, first to Pyongnam, and then back south to Seoul. Moon and Kim Won-pil traveled on to Pusan, where Moon met Aum Dukmoon, an erstwhile student friend, who, together with his wife, offered him a place to stay. Moon was able to talk to them about the Principle, which the Aums found inspiring. It was during this period in Pusan that Moon started to write down the Principle with the help of Kim Won-pil. Sometimes Moon dictated, but more often than not Moon would write the ideas in notebooks, in pencil. The story goes that Moon wrote so fast that he had to have an assistant by his side to sharpen his pencils, to enable the ideas to flow fluently. Moon’s writing speed was such that the assistant was unable to keep pace with the pencil-sharpening. Moon finally completed the first written text of the Principle on May 10, 1952. This text was known as Wolli Kangron

124

GEORGE D. CHRYSSIDES

(‘‘Original Text of the Divine Principle’’), and was handwritten. Close disciples transcribed copies, three of which are known to have survived. The Wolli Kangron underwent two further developments. In the spring of 1955 Moon commissioned an updated text, incorporating new insights delivered in Moon’s sermons. The work was undertaken by Eu Hyo-won (1919–70), who joined the HSA-UWC on Christmas Eve 1953. This text was called the Wolli Haesul (‘‘Explanation of the Divine Principle’’), and was the definitive text until 1966. On May 1, 1966, yet another upgraded version was published, also compiled by Eu Hyo-won, again incorporating further material from Moon’s sermons, and acquiring the title Wolli Kangron (given the English title of ‘‘Exposition of the Divine Principle’’). This version of the Principle was used until 1994, when a color-coded version, based on the thirty-ninth edition of the text, was produced by Gil Ja Sa Eu. Sections of the Wolli Kangron were classified as ‘‘main,’’ ‘‘second rank,’’ and ‘‘third rank,’’ and were highlighted in red, blue, and yellow respectively, to indicate their relative importance. The Wolli Haesul and the Wolli Kangron were soon translated into English. The first English translation was by Dr. Young Oon Kim (1915–90) – one of Moon’s principal disciples – and was entitled The Divine Principles. John Lofland in his Doomsday Cult records how Dr. Kim arrived in the Bay Area of the USA in 1959, and undertook the preparation of a new version, bearing the same title. This appeared in 1960: it is said not to be an exact translation, and it is likely that Kim added her own insights. In 1973 the first full English translation from the Wolli Haesul and the Wolli Kangron was undertaken by Dr. Choi Won-pok. It was entitled Divine Principle, and is sometimes known as the ‘‘black book’’ because of its black covers. A color-coded English version appeared in 1994, paralleling the Korean one, and then in 1996 a ‘‘re-translation’’ appeared in English, bearing the title Exposition of the Divine Principles.6 This was the definitive text, to stand alongside a new corpus of writings known as the Hoon Dok Hoe Texts. These consist of sermons and speeches of Moon, prayers, and writings that are held to have been delivered from the spirit world, such as Sang Hun Lee’s Life in the Spirit World and on Earth. Moon inaugurated the Hoon Dok Hoe tradition on October 13, 1997; the texts are said to be 6

There are certainly other versions of the Principle in English: an early English version was made with the help of Apostolic Church pastor Joshua McCabe (see Chryssides, ‘‘Four Position’’), and I was given an English version in the early 1970s which is clearly an alternative translation of Young Oon Kim’s text. The history of the Divine Principle texts therefore merits closer study, but is beyond the scope of this chapter.

‘‘Heavenly deception’’

125

defined for the Completed Testament Age, and they are recommended for home study, particularly on Sundays. This corpus of writing is not fixed, but continues to grow. THE ACCUSERS

Having explored the background to the Principle in the Israel Jesus Church and the Unification Church, I turn now to the accusers. I have already cited Patrick’s allegations. However, despite persistent rumors, surprisingly few written sources support the accusation. Only three internet sources provide limited support for Patrick’s allegation. Tilmann Hausherr, a journalist and NRM (new religious movement) critic, quotes someone by the name of Rich Rubasch, who writes in a weblog: Well that’s not so sure if the DP is written by Moon. Some detractors claim that the DP was just a plagiarism of the books ‘‘Divine basic principles’’ and ‘‘Theology of the holy spirit’’ by Kim Baek-moon.7

Ex-Unificationist and cult critic Steven Hassan writes: In Japan, the Moon organization is in great trouble. Former Moon followers have come forward to give testimony regarding their experiences. Several Korean followers of Moon from the 1950’s have gone public in Japan and discussed disturbing elements of Moon’s past, including their allegations of Moon’s sexual purification rites and plagiarism of Moon’s doctrine.8

Neither of these critics provides any supportive evidence. A fourth, and much less plausible, accuser entitles his critique ‘‘On Sun Myung’s plagiarized version of ‘Basic Principles’ & ‘Theology of Spirituality’ by Baek Moon Kim of the South Korean Jerusalem Monastery circa 1950: A Re-interpretation and commentary by Lucifer VII Mars Horus Sword of the Sun Moon and Stars The Lion of Judah.’’ Despite the somewhat bizarre style in which the material is presented, the author does appear to know some of the Unification Church’s early history, even naming the leaders of associated Korean religious groups. Two points of detail are of particular interest. Lucifer VII states that the notion of humankind’s Fall as involving sexual sin was Moon’s innovation; also, he states: Mike Breen, a Dragon cultist,9 and author who has written several works on the Dragon, visited the Israel Church in the early 90’s prior to Baek Moon Kim’s 7 9

Hausherr, text as original. 8 Hassan, ‘‘Truth.’’ The author’s reference to the ‘‘Dragon cult’’ relates to the meaning of the name ‘‘Sun Myung Moon,’’ which translates as ‘‘shining dragon.’’ Moon’s given name was Moon Yung-myung.

126

GEORGE D. CHRYSSIDES

death. Kim refused to grant Mike an interview, however his church members did confirm their position that Kim was the true author of the Divine Principle and that the Dragon (aka Sun Myung Moon) was not the awaited Messiah that the Divine Principle testifies to, as far as its author was concerned, and this position is also taken by the vast majority of Korean Christians, most of whom appear to despise Moon and consider him to be an Antichrist.10

None of the sources I have cited above are in any sense good sources. They are neither primary sources nor researched pieces of academic writing, and they do not indicate where their information comes from, let alone evaluate it. Despite extensive enquiries, I have been unable to find any corroborative evidence of Patrick’s claim that the Israel Jesus Church engaged in any litigation on the issue. While there is a case for saying that such material does not even merit academic discussion, nonetheless the persistent rumors of plagiarism, coupled with the seriousness of such a charge, make it appropriate to give some response. Apart from the lack of firm evidence, the most obvious observation on these sources is their lack of consistency with one another. Patrick’s informant tells us that the Principle was transcribed ‘‘word for word,’’ while ‘‘Lucifer VII’’ states that Moon innovated in claiming that the Fall was the result of sexual sin. This latter claim is implausible, since there is strong reason to believe that this belief was widespread in the New Christian groups with which Moon was acquainted, most notably the New Jesus Church, led by Lee Yong-do. Moon’s real innovation, of course, was his claim to messianic status, although this is not explicitly asserted in Divine Principle itself, which merely claims that ‘‘the period for the Second Advent began right after the First World War.’’11 If this teaching was borrowed from Kim, it would entail that Kim could not have regarded himself as the messiah (he was slightly too old), although it is possible – as Moon claims – that he merely saw his role as the returning John the Baptist. Other problems relate to dating. The dates given by ‘‘Lucifer VII’’ are almost certainly unreliable. He states that Breen attempted to interview Kim Baek-moon in the early 1990s, despite the fact that Kim died in 1990. More seriously, he dates the ‘‘Jerusalem Monastery’’ at around 1950, although there is clear agreement that Moon encountered Kim’s church in late 1945, and broke with Kim the following year. By 1950 Moon was in the Tong Nee prison camp at Hungnam. Although such discrepancies may seem slight, the chronology of Moon’s life is generally agreed and extremely accessible, and such errors underline the author’s lack of care 10

Lucifer VII, ‘‘On Sun Myung.’’

11

Eu, 1973:499.

‘‘Heavenly deception’’

127

in compiling his material, as well as inevitably casting doubts about the accuracy of his more controversial claims. Patrick’s dating is even less credible. His associate sets the date of Kim’s material at ‘‘thirty, forty years before Moon ever published Divine Principle.’’ If Patrick is referring to the earliest published version of Divine Principle (1951), which – if any charge of plagiarism could be sustained – would be the most likely candidate, then this would imply that Kim was truly an infant prodigy: born in 1910, he would have written his theology somewhere between the ages of one and eleven years old! Writing in 1976, Patrick may be thinking of the 1973 edition of Divine Principle, which was in widespread use among members at the time, although, as has been shown, this was the result of internal redaction, and could hardly be ‘‘word for word’’ Kim’s material. If we are to understand Patrick to mean that Kim was writing thirty or forty years before the 1973 edition, this still places Kim’s writing too early – between 1933 and 1943. It could be suggested that, since Moon and Kim were acquainted during the period 1945–6, Moon did not in fact copy Kim’s published writings, but drafts or notes that the latter was using within the Israel Jesus Church. However, the scenario that this would entail lacks plausibility. In the absence of present-day technology for copying material, Moon would have had to copy a substantial theological treatise (possibly the equivalent of 100 printed pages or more) within a six-month period, or else appropriate a spare copy for himself, if one existed. The copy would then have had to survive his journey to Pyongyang and his imprisonment at Hungnam – highly unlikely, especially with the onset of the Korean War and its repercussions on Moon and his early followers. Given the chronology of events in early Unificationist history, together with the respective publication dates of Kim’s writings and the first edition of Divine Principle, it seems unlikely that direct copying of material was possible. Any critic who is still determined to pursue the charge of plagiarism would have to argue that the Unification Church’s account of its own early history has been falsified – which would indeed be heavenly deception on a very large scale! CAN IDEAS BE PLAGIARIZED?

Once conventional charges of plagiarism fail, another line of attack can be employed. If Divine Principle does not consist of the actual words of Kim Baek-moon’s writings, then perhaps Sun Myung Moon simply copied the ideas. This suggestion constitutes a weaker charge, of course, but, if

128

GEORGE D. CHRYSSIDES

true, it would tend to suggest that the origins of Sun Myung Moon’s teachings were human rather than divine, and the charge might seem to vitiate the claim that their origins were revelatory. This weaker charge must now be examined. Certainly there are affinities in the beliefs of the Israel Jesus Monastery and the Unification Church. Both taught that humankind fell from grace as a result of an illicit sexual relationship; both taught the need for a messiah to come to restore humanity’s fallen state; both appear to have believed that Jesus did not wholly achieve such a restoration, and that his second coming would be in the form of another human emissary of God, who would appear in modern Korea. Both groups regarded themselves as Christian organizations, and both accepted the Christian Bible, and sought to interpret it. James R. Lewis, however, convincingly points out the faulty logic in this line of argument. He discusses the Movement of Inner Spiritual Awareness in this connection, but, as he notes, his argument is applicable to any movement against which such a charge is made. He imagines the case of a Baptist church in which there is a schism: it is likely that the schismatical second Baptist church would continue to use the same Bible and teach the same central Christian doctrines, such as Christ dying for the world’s sins. This would scarcely be ‘‘plagiarism,’’ but merely continuity of belief and practice.12 Religions typically set out to persuade seekers, and seekers frequently attach themselves to organizations whose teachings are conducive to what they already believe. It is common for religions to endeavor to disseminate their teachings, frequently insisting on the importance of theological orthodoxy, or in their transmission without loss, alteration, or addition of teaching. The mainstream Christian emphasis on its creeds is one obvious example, while the sampradaya tradition within Hinduism, in which teachings are handed down on a one-to-one guru–disciple basis, is designed to ensure authentic and authoritative transmission. The results of such methods are the identity of beliefs and practices, but this is persuasion, or faith in one’s guru’s authority. There is nothing necessarily reprehensible about it, and ‘‘plagiarism’’ would be a decidedly odd word to use for such phenomena. In any case, we know that the two movements – Kim’s and Moon’s – had important differences. Most obviously, Moon regarded himself as the messiah, the second advent of Christ, while Kim refused to confer any such status upon him.

12

Lewis, Legitimating, p. 37.

‘‘Heavenly deception’’

129

There is a further possible rejoinder to Lewis’s argument, however. It could be contended that dependence on the ideas of another religious leader militates against the claims that Moon makes to have direct revelation. In The Advent of Sun Myung Moon, I pointed out the weaknesses of such criticism. As I argued, revelations always need a context: one needs the background of a known religious tradition in order to recognize the content of one’s revelation. One cannot have a vision of the Virgin Mary or Jesus unless one has first been taught how to recognize them. Further, if there is a God who has a momentous revelation to give to humanity, it is well within the bounds of credibility that such a God would decide to reveal it to several visionaries, and not just one. Indeed, I have heard Unificationists claim that God had up to twenty-five human beings in twentieth-century Korea as potential messiahs, to allow for the possible failure of one or more to fulfill his role. It is also perfectly possible to suggest that one religious group might provide teachings for which the revelatory content of one its members was confirmatory evidence. Dependence of ideas does not exclude the possibility of direct revelation. DIVINE PRINCIPLE AS A

‘‘ S P I R I T U A L

C O U N T E R F E I T ’’

If the charge of plagiarism cannot be upheld, another line of attack on Divine Principle is to argue that, whether or not it counterfeits some other human source, it is a ‘‘spiritual counterfeit,’’ a false imitation of divine truth. This criticism is not infrequently made by mainstream Christian critics, particularly those of the Protestant evangelical tradition. The term ‘‘spiritual counterfeit’’ was appropriated by Bill Squire, who became the first director of the Spiritual Counterfeits Project (SCP) in Berkeley, California, in 1973. The SCP grew out of the context of the 1960s US counter-culture, and was initially opposed to Guru Maharaji’s (then) Divine Light Mission and the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s Transcendental Meditation, aiming to research such movements, disseminate information about them, and offer a Christian critique. Although these two Eastern groups were initially targeted, the SCP identified many other ‘‘counterfeit cults,’’ including the Unification Church. Early contributors to SCP publications included J. Isamu Yamamoto, who authored The Puppet Master: An Inquiry into Sun Myung Moon and the Unification Church. The use of the term ‘‘counterfeit’’ in connection with new religious movements, especially those of the New Christian variety, has become widespread, and is used freely by evangelical Christian counter-cult writers such as Harold J. Berry, James Bjørnstad, Doug Harris, Edmond C. Gruss,

130

GEORGE D. CHRYSSIDES

Douglas R. Groothuis, Hank Hanegraaf, Josh McDowell, and Don Stewart, to name but a few. Although at first glance the term might seem to be little more than counter-cult rhetoric, on closer inspection it has quite substantive import. Harris uses the term ‘‘counterfeit Christian cults’’ as part of a four-fold typology of NRMs (or ‘‘cults,’’ as he prefers to call them). In his scheme, ‘‘counterfeit Christian cults’’ are to be distinguished from ‘‘Christian cults,’’ ‘‘commune cults,’’ and ‘‘personality cults.’’ It is beyond the scope of the present chapter to discuss Harris’s typology.13 It is not altogether clear, for example, whether he regards these categories as discrete or overlapping, and hence whether he would regard the Family Federation as a ‘‘counterfeit Christian cult’’ as well as a ‘‘commune cult,’’ or whether he would wish to reconsider the place of the FFWPU in the light of the fact that considerably fewer members actually live in communes, unlike the early days of the organization in the 1960s and 1970s. Examples of organizations that Harris regards unequivocally as ‘‘counterfeit Christian’’ are the Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, the Christadelphians, and Christian Science. Examples of ‘‘Christian cults’’ are the Central Church of Christ, The Family International (formerly the Children of God – not to be confused with the Family Federation), the Seventh-Day Adventists, and the Word-Faith Movement. Harris explains the difference between these two types of ‘‘cult’’ as follows. Christian cults ‘‘usually have members who are true Christians,’’ while the counterfeit Christian cults are ‘‘groups that are a poor copy of the original. Claiming to preach Jesus and the Bible but if we take a closer look we can detect that they are a fake.’’14 For the evangelical counter-cultist, the ‘‘true Christians’’ are those who based their doctrines firmly on scripture, who give due status to Jesus Christ, acknowledging his divine-human nature as defined in the traditional Christian creeds, and who are afforded the full means of salvation. This last point is particularly important: certain New Christian groups may have controversial practices, but be doctrinally orthodox. One example is The Family International, whose members have controversial sexual practices, yet accept all the principles of Christian fundamentalism. By contrast, the Unification Church does not acknowledge Jesus Christ’s divinity, regards him as not having fully accomplished his mission, and claims that his crucifixion, far from offering salvation to the world, was not part of God’s salvific plan. 13 14

For further discussion, see Chryssides, Exploring, pp. 23–32. Harris, Cult Critiques, p. 9; text as original.

‘‘Heavenly deception’’

131

In all, one can recognize four principal grounds on which countercultists have perceived the Family Federation as counterfeit. First, it claims to be a Christian church when it is not; second, it claims to offer true doctrine and true revelation when it does not; third, it purports to present a new scripture that supersedes the Christian Bible; and finally, it claims falsely to offer salvation through new messiahs. I shall explore the ways in which the counter-cult movement has endeavored to demonstrate the counterfeit nature of the Family Federation on these four grounds. COUNTERFEIT CLAIMS

First, the criticism that the Unification Church/FFWPU is not a Christian church goes beyond counter-cult polemic. From its early days in the USA the Unification Church experienced hostility from the mainstream Christian churches, as John Lofland records. Young Oon Kim’s attempts in the late 1950s and early 1960s to build bridges with Christian denominations were met with almost unequivocal rejection, and the only religious group that expressed interest was a small Spiritualist church, whose two ministers regularly attended meetings, at least for a while. Young Oon Kim herself appeared to have more affinities with sectarian forms of Christianity; although trained in a Methodist seminary, she preferred to undergo ordination from the Universal Church of the Master, whose teachings draw substantially on Levi Dowling’s The Aquarian Gospel of Jesus the Christ, which recounts Jesus’ supposed travels in India and Tibet. When Sun Myung Moon visited the USA for the first time in 1965 he sought an audience with the celebrated psychic Arthur Ford – a decision that was not very conducive to good relationships with mainstream Christianity, which tends to disapprove of consultations with spirits. The following decade, the Unification Church, having grown considerably and having gained more confidence, applied for membership to local and national councils of churches. In 1974 the Korean National Council of Churches turned down the Unification Church’s application, and Kim Kwan-suk, its General Secretary, described the organization as ‘‘a cult . . . a new sect which has been undermining the established church.’’ A further attempt was made in 1976 to join the New York City Council of Churches; the Unification Church’s application was firmly rejected. The Commission on Faith and Order of the National Council of Churches was delegated the task of investigating and reporting on the Unification Church, and returned the conclusion that it ‘‘is not a Christian

132

GEORGE D. CHRYSSIDES

Church.’’15 Interestingly, the reasons for rejecting the application included the Unification Church’s interpretation of the Trinity, its Christological doctrines, its teachings on grace and salvation, its understanding of scripture, the special revelations attributed to Sun Myung Moon, and, particularly, its claim to present a ‘‘new, ultimate, final truth.’’ The British Council of Churches (BCC, now reconstituted as Churches Together in Britain and Ireland) was approached in 1978. The position paper which the BCC Youth Unit formulated – ‘‘The Unification Church: A Paper for Those Who Wish to Know More’’ – was slightly more conciliatory than the verdicts of the Korean and the New York councils, and endeavored to present a factual description of the Unification Church rather than to make hostile comments; nonetheless, their application was turned down. The British Unification Church leadership decided to produce a rejoinder to this paper, bearing exactly the same title, with similar format, and with a number of paragraphs identical to the BCC paper. This decision, which the Family Federation with hindsight probably regrets, did nothing to allay any accusations that Unificationists were counterfeiters. The nature of revelation The accusation that Sun Myung Moon’s claimed spiritual revelations are counterfeit is a particularly serious one. Moon teaches a distinctive version of Christianity which goes beyond the Christian scriptures. It includes claims, for example, that Jesus’ human father was Zacharias, that Jesus was maltreated as a child, that John the Baptist failed to testify to Jesus’ messiahship, that Jesus did not accomplish the divine purpose that he should marry and father sinless children, and so on. When asked on what basis Moon makes such extrabiblical claims, the Unificationist answer is that they are based on Moon’s revelatory experiences, and indeed that there are other revelations that Moon has still to divulge to his followers. If such revelatory claims are unsustainable, then the distinctive nature of Unification belief is seriously undermined. Can such criticism be sustained? It is important to be clear what charges of bogus revelation amount to. There is a stronger and a weaker charge of false revelation. Some critics have sought to demonstrate that Moon’s claims to revelation are deliberate lies, that he receives no such revelations, but endeavors to persuade his followers of his claimed messianic status, in the full knowledge that such claims are untrue. The weaker charge is that 15

Commission on Faith and Order, p. 3.

‘‘Heavenly deception’’

133

Moon does have spiritual experiences, but that he misconstrues them, or draws wrong inferences from them, teaching them to his followers in good faith, but without foundation. If it could be proved that Moon simply transcribed the words of some other Korean preacher, such as Kim Baek-moon, then this would substantiate the stronger criticism of false revelation. It is not possible unwittingly to transcribe the words of someone else and pass them off as one’s own spiritual experiences. In the absence of such conclusive proof, however, the counter-cult movement is left simply to make the criticism that these alleged revelations are bogus. Undermining the revelatory status of a purportedly revealed religion is not easy. Those outside the Family Federation might perceive little reason positively to believe that Moon, together with a few key figures who are accorded mediumistic status, have genuine access to the spirit world. Indeed, they might legitimately point out that there are hundreds of religions that claim a special revelation, yet do not agree about the nature of spiritual reality: if one were to suppose that one of them offered the truth, the chance of any spiritual seeker alighting on that ‘‘true’’ revelation, amid the many competing ones, is not high. Several Christian evangelical writers have endeavored to demonstrate the spurious nature of Moon’s revelatory claims on the grounds that they are unbiblical. However, any argument from a Christian fundamentalist standpoint is necessarily a circular one. Divine Principle does not interpret the Bible as if it were an inerrant book; on the contrary, it teaches that numerous biblical doctrines are to be interpreted ‘‘symbolically’’ rather than literally. Important examples are the story of Eve eating the fruit in the Garden of Eden, and the expectation of Christ’s second coming. The sexual misconduct that gave rise to humanity’s Fall is symbolized by the eating of fruit; the clouds on which Jesus is expected to return are symbolic, not literal: the new messiah will be born in a natural way. Divine Principle intentionally interprets the Bible in a non-literal way, and goes beyond it by introducing new teachings. To point out, then, that Unificationism does not accept the literal teachings of the Bible is not to make an incisive criticism of Unificationism, but merely to identify the way in which it treats biblical literature. Divine Principle as spurious scripture? Yet another line of attack on Divine Principle is to object to its apparently canonical status within the Family Federation. Christianity has characteristically objected to two kinds of innovation within certain new religious

134

GEORGE D. CHRYSSIDES

movements. One is the claim that there is a new prophet, messiah, or savior figure who is needed to complete Jesus’ mission; the other is the introduction of a new piece of writing that is accorded the status of scripture, such as the Latter-Day Saints’ Book of Mormon, or pieces of supposedly ‘‘channeled’’ writing that purport to be dictated by Jesus or some other key figure in the Christian tradition. Unificationism became particularly unpopular because it appeared to do both: Sun Myung Moon and his wife Hak Ja Han Moon are presented as the new present-day messiahs who are entrusted with the completion of Jesus’ unfulfilled mission, and the book Divine Principle appears to be a new scripture, based on Moon’s new revelations. Protestant evangelicals, especially of the fundamentalist variety, are particularly sensitive to any interference with scripture, frequently quoting in this regard the final chapter of the book of Revelation: ‘‘I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book.’’16 Although the writer was referring simply to the book of Revelation itself, Christian fundamentalists have typically taken this injunction to apply to scripture as a whole, which is believed to have been completed when the church defined its canon, and thus God’s final word, which contains all that is necessary for the means of salvation (sola scriptura). Several critics have expressed concern that Divine Principle is a new scripture. Walter Martin refers to it as ‘‘the Unification Church ‘Bible,’’’17 and Bob Larson describes it as ‘‘a new revelation of truth to supplant the Bible.’’18 Ankerberg and Weldon state that, according to the Family Federation, the Christian Bible is merely ‘‘one of God’s revelations, replaced by Moon’s superior revelations.’’19 The status of Divine Principle, however, is not as clear-cut as these critics suggest. At times Unificationists talk as if Divine Principle is a scripture with equal or even superior status to that of mainstream Christian scripture. Thus, Mose Durst writes, ‘‘The Divine Principle, along with the Old and New Testaments, serve as the scriptures of the Unification faith.’’20 Some Unificationists seem to take a different view, however; for example, Kevin McCarthy writes: ‘‘The Divine Principle is not scripture or an addition to the Bible. It is a revelation from God with regard to present 16

17 19

20

Revelation 22:18, NIV, cited in Berry, Truth Twisters, p. 254; Elkins, What Do You Say?, pp. 76–7; Yamamoto, Puppet Master, p. 114. Martin, Kingdom, p. 340. 18 Larson, Larson’s New Book, p. 440. Ankerberg and Weldon, Encyclopedia of Cults, p. 452. There are many other such critics. See, e.g., Gruss, Cults, p. 194; Ritchie, Secret World, p. 33; McDowell and Stewart, Deceivers, p. 151. Durst, quoted in Berry, Truth Twisters, p. 252.

‘‘Heavenly deception’’

135

day global responsibility of Christianity.’’21 Other Unificationist writings are more ambiguous, suggesting that it is an interpretation of scripture rather than scripture itself. For example, the introduction to Exposition of the Divine Principle reads: ‘‘Exposition of the Divine Principle expresses a truth which is universal. It inherits and builds upon the core truths which God revealed through the Jewish and Christian scriptures and encompasses the profound wisdom of the Orient.’’22 Another passage in the Exposition of the Divine Principle is frequently quoted by evangelical critics: The Old Testament Word was eclipsed when Jesus and the Holy Spirit came and gave us the New Testament Word, which fulfilled the Old Testament Word. Likewise, when Christ returns in order to give the new truth in order to fulfill the New Testament Word and build a new heaven and new earth, the Word which he gave at his first coming will lose its light. It is said that the Word will lose its light because, with the coming of a new era, the period of the mission of the old truth will have lapsed.23

The passage alludes to the Family Federation’s teaching that there are three eras in human history: the Old Testament Era (Adam to Jesus), the New Testament Era (Jesus to the Second Advent) and the Completed Testament Era (from approximately 1920 onwards). The doctrine is a complex one, and readers who wish to explore it further can be referred to my The Advent of Sun Myung Moon or to the post-1973 editions of Divine Principle. Briefly, the teaching is that, after the Fall, there was a period of preparation of the messiah, which was eventually fulfilled by Jesus. Since his mission was only partially accomplished, this period of preparation had to be repeated, and exact parallels can be seen between the two 2,000-year periods between Abraham and Jesus, and between Jesus and the Second Advent, respectively. The period following the birth of Sun Myung Moon, who is believed now to have completed Jesus’ salvific work, is referred to as the Completed Testament Era. A number of key points follow about the relationship between Divine Principle and the Christian Bible. First, Divine Principle, compiled in the Completed Testament Era, refers to historical events that inevitably lie beyond the reach of the biblical writers. Divine Principle therefore adds to Christian revelation, and in particular identifies events in ‘‘salvation history’’ which are not included in the Bible, but which are regarded as necessary for humankind’s full salvation. Divine Principle does not reject the Bible, however, but claims to interpret it, accepting its general account 21 23

McCarthy, 500 Questions, p. 199. Ibid., p. 95.

22

Exposition of the Divine Principle, p. xxii.

GEORGE D. CHRYSSIDES

136

of the sweep of human history that it covers, but contending (as already noted) that certain ideas are to be interpreted symbolically rather than literally. In fact, the Unificationist view that the Bible points to the coming of the Lord of the Second Advent in the form of Sun Myung Moon entails that the Christian Bible is accepted as authoritative. Unificationists expect that Divine Principle will serve as the crown of Christian scripture, offering the definitive interpretation of the Christian message, and eventually uniting all Christian denominations, as well as all the world’s religions. As one Unificationist commentator writes: Because the Divine Principle is true, it will unite all the different churches someday [sic]. There is one Bible and someday everyone will accept the Divine Principle as the one truth. The sooner this world accepts, the sooner we will have world peace and everyone will have peace of mind.24

Two other comments on Divine Principle are worth noting. First, Divine Principle never offers any added content to the biblical narrative: the extracanonical account of Jesus, for example, is not found in Divine Principle, but is taught by Moon in his sermons, which are published separately; Divine Principle is therefore by no means the complete set of revealed teachings. Second, Divine Principle is not used liturgically: at Unificationist Sunday services, readings are taken from the mainstream Christian Bible; although the sermon will typically expound the teachings of the Principle, it is unusual for it to be read formally during worship. Much of the problem of sustaining the thesis that Divine Principle is a new scripture that supersedes the Bible resides in the fact that Unificationists do not seem to be agreed in their understanding of its role, and, further, that the Unification Church has never engaged in any formal definition of a canon of scripture, or determined what it means for a text to be defined as scripture. Mainstream Christians may be offended by the ideas expressed in Divine Principle, but, as I have argued, it cannot be simply stated that this text is a new scripture. Divine Principle and the offer of salvation I turn finally to the fourth line of criticism of Divine Principle: that its teachings do not truly lead to salvation. There is little doubt that this is the greatest concern of evangelical Christians, and the driving force behind their attempts to present Unification members with the traditional 24

Goodwin, Plain Language.

‘‘Heavenly deception’’

137

Christian gospel rather than simply persuade them to leave Sun Myung Moon’s organization. Harris’s notion of the counterfeit Christian cult signals the perceived danger that Unificationism might be regarded as the truth that leads to eternal life, when, he believes, it does not. The problem with counterfeits is that they can readily become confused with the genuine article. Counterfeit money is ultimately worthless, and any perceived value is accorded to it as long as those who accept it are under the illusion that it is genuine; at least with foreign currency the owner knows that it is not negotiable, and must be exchanged for legal tender. Similarly, while those who teach a non-Christian faith make no claim that it offers salvation as understood by mainstream Christians, the ‘‘counterfeit Christian cult’’ could lure the unwary into believing that it offers the means of salvation, only to find that its counterfeit nature will be unmasked at the Day of Judgment. A number of points need to be made about such an allegation. First, recent developments in the Family Federation raise the question of whether it now views itself as having a specifically Christian identity. For decades now, Unificationism has sought to unite all the world’s religions and not merely the various branches of Christianity. Recent messages from the spirit world, believed to be channeled through the medium at Chung Pyung in Korea, carry acknowledgments of Moon’s messiahship, not merely from Jesus, but from a variety of spiritual and political leaders, including Confucius, Lao Tzu, the Buddha, Muhammad, Karl Marx, and many others. Some Unificationists, and not merely their critics, now wish to reconsider the movement’s former claims to a Christian identity. Second, the nature of salvation offered by Unificationism differs significantly from that of mainstream Christianity. The kingdom of heaven is held to be a state that lies beyond Paradise, attainable only by couples whose marriages have been blessed by the Revd. Moon, and to which everyone will eventually aspire, including Satan himself. While mainstream Christian biblical scholars have debated what Jesus meant by the expression ‘‘the kingdom of God,’’ it has consistently ruled out all of these features. Third, whether or not a religion genuinely leads to its declared goal is a complex theological question. Recent decades have seen considerable debate as to whether ‘‘all paths lead to God’’ or whether it is a narrow gate that opens to God’s kingdom, reserved for born-again Christians.25 It is neither possible nor desirable to open up the debate here; it is sufficient to point out that claims about spiritual paths and goals are not testable – or 25

See, e.g., Hick, God and the Universe of Faiths.

138

GEORGE D. CHRYSSIDES

at least not testable in any empirical way. Spiritual claims are not like those of manufacturers or retailers, and cannot therefore be subject to the same kinds of charges of dishonesty, deception, and counterfeiting. CONCLUSION

It is important to recognize that my argument is not that Divine Principle is believable, or that it is good scripture, good theology, or good historical analysis: such issues lie well beyond the scope of the present discussion. The thrust of my argument has simply been that there is no evidence to suggest that Divine Principle is a plagiarized work. Other ‘‘counterfeiting’’ claims (‘‘counterfeit Christianity,’’ counterfeit scripture, counterfeit revelation, and counterfeit offer of salvation) are equally difficult to sustain. One may choose to disbelieve Unification teachings, as indeed the majority of people have, but disbelieving does not entail something underhand or dishonest in the aspects of Unificationism that I have discussed here.

REFERENCES

Ankerberg, John, and John Weldon, Encyclopedia of Cults and New Religions (Eugene, OR: Harvest House, 1999). Berry, H. J., Truth Twisters (Lincoln, NE: Back to the Bible, 1997). Bjørnstad, James, The Moon is Not the Son (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany Fellowship Inc., 1976). Breen, Michael, Sun Myung Moon: The Early Years (Hurstpierpoint: Refuge Books, 1997). British Council of Churches, ‘‘The Unification Church: A paper for those who wish to know more, prepared by the Youth Unit of the British Council of Churches’’ (London: British Council of Churches, 1978). Chryssides, George D., The Advent of Sun Myung Moon: The Origins, Beliefs and Practices of the Unification Church (London: Macmillan, 1991). Exploring New Religions (London: Cassell, 1999). ‘‘The Four Position Foundations,’’ Religion Today 2/3 (October 1985), pp. 7–8. Commission on Faith and Order of the National Council of Churches, ‘‘A Critique of the Unification Church as Set Forth in Divine Principle,’’ quoted in affidavit of D. M. Kelley, 4 November 1987 in the High Court of Justice, Chancery Division; 1984-A-6263 and 1984-A-6264; Her Majesty’s Attorney General vs. Alexander Frederick Herzer and Hamish Roderick Colin Robertson (1975). Durst, Mose, Word and Deed – The Unification Movement: Toward an Ideal World (New York: HSA-UWC, n.d.). Elkins, Chris, What Do You Say to a Moonie? (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House, 1981).

‘‘Heavenly deception’’

139

Eu, Ho won, Divine Principle (New York: Holy Spirit Association for the Unification of World Christianity, 1973). Exposition of the Divine Principle. New York: Holy Spirit Association for the Unification of World Christianity, 1996. Ford, Arthur, Known but Unknown (London: Psychic Press, 1969). Goodwin, John, The Divine Principle in Plain Language, , created September 25, 1997, accessed February 27, 2006. Groothuis, Douglas, Confronting the New Age: How to Resist a Growing Religious Movement (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1988). Gruss, Edmond C., Cults and the Occult, 3rd edn. (Philadelphia, NJ: Presbyterian & Reformed Publishing Co., 1994). Hanegraaff, Hank, Counterfeit Revival (Dallas, TX: Word Books, 1997). Harris, Doug, Cult Critiques (Richmond: Reachout Trust, 1995). Hassan, Steve, ‘‘The Truth about Sun Myung Moon,’’ , created September 2004, accessed February 27, 2005. Hausherr, Tilman, quoted in , created January 2, 1996, accessed February 27, 2006. Hick, John, God and the Universe of Faiths (London: Macmillan, 1973). Holy Bible, New International Version. London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1978. Kim, Jin-choon, ‘‘A Study of the Formation and History of the Unification Principle,’’ , March 2000, accessed August 20, 2007. Kim, Young Oon, The Divine Principles (San Francisco, CA: HSA-UWC, 1963). Larson, Bob, Larson’s New Book of Cults (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House, 1989). Lee, Sang Hun, Life in the Spirit World and on Earth (New York: Family Federation for World Peace and Unification, 1998). Lewis, James R., Legitimating New Religions (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2003). Lofland, John, Doomsday Cult (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1966). Lucifer VII Mars Horus Sword of the Sun Moon and Stars The Lion of Judah ‘‘On Sun Myung’s plagiarised version of ‘Basic Principles’ & ‘Theology of Spirituality’ by Baek Moon Kim of the South Korean Jerusalem Monastery circa 1950: A Re-interpretation and commentary,’’ , accessed February 27, 2005. McCarthy, Kevin, Q & A: 500 Questions Asked by Christian Ministers about the Divine Principle and the Unification Movement, I (Richmond, VA: FutureWorld Publishing, 1992). McDowell, Josh, and Don Stewart, The Deceivers: What Cults Believe; How They Lure Followers (Amersham: Scripture Press, 1992). Martin, Walter, The Kingdom of the Cults (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House, 1985[1965]). Patrick, Ted, and Tom Dulack, Let Our Children Go! (New York: Dutton, 1976).

140

GEORGE D. CHRYSSIDES

Ritchie, Jean, The Secret World of Cults: Inside the Sects that Take Over Lives (London: Angus & Robertson, 1991). Unification Church, ‘‘The Unification Church: A paper for those who wish to know more, prepared by the Unification Church of Great Britain’’ (London: Unification Church, 1978). Yamamoto, J. Isamu, The Puppet Master: An Inquiry into Sun Myung Moon and the Unification Church (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1977).

CHAPTER

7

‘‘Forgery’’ in the New Testament Einar Thomassen

Of the twenty-seven writings that were added to the Jewish Scriptures by the Christians in antiquity as a ‘‘New Testament,’’ only seven are unanimously accepted by modern scholars as genuinely carrying the name of their original author. The seven are the following epistles of Paul: Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Philippians, 1 Thessalonians, and Philemon. The authenticity of several texts is disputed (especially Colossians, Ephesians, 2 Thessalonians, and 1 Peter). The rest of the writings contained in the New Testament were in all probability not written by the persons whose alleged authorship of these documents originally justified their inclusion in the canon. The inauthenticity of these writings is of three different kinds. Some are instances of pseudepigraphy, that is, they were deliberately written under somebody else’s name. This is, in the opinion of most scholars, the situation with the ‘‘deutero-Pauline’’ epistles: Colossians, Ephesians, 2 Thessalonians and the Pastoral Epistles. Also, 1 Peter is most likely pseudepigraphal, and 2 Peter certainly is. Other New Testament texts originally circulated anonymously and were only later ascribed to named authors. The four gospels and Acts belong to this category. The anonymous letter to the Hebrews was originally received as canonical on the assumption that it was written by Paul. A similar case is represented by the three letters ascribed to John. Finally, the Revelation of John and the letters of James and Jude may owe their canonical status rather to a mistake of identity: these documents may have been written by authors bearing the same names as the disciple and the two brothers of Jesus and later erroneously attributed to these apostolic figures.1 1

Discussions regarding the authorship of the individual New Testament books will be found in any scholarly introduction to the New Testament. For the issue of pseudepigraphy in general, see Speyer, ‘‘Religio¨se Pseudepigraphie’’; Metzger, ‘‘Literary Forgeries’’; Meade, Pseudonymity and Canon; Brox, Falsche Verfasserangaben; Brox, Pseudepigraphie; Baum, Pseudepigraphie; Clarke, ‘‘The Problem of Pseudonymity.’’

141

142

EINAR THOMASSEN THE IMPORTANCE OF APOSTOLIC AUTHORSHIP

It will be noted that all the documents included in the New Testament are attributed to named authors. The letter to the Hebrews, today regarded as anonymous, also originally made it into the canon as a Pauline letter. Thus, the question of who wrote the documents appears to be an essential aspect of their canonicity. This fact reveals an important aspect of the canonizing process in early Christianity: special authority was given to texts that were thought to have been written by persons closely associated with the Savior himself and his disciples. In other words, canonicity was tied to the concept of the apostolic. The invention of the category of the apostolic thus became the most important component of the idea of tradition that emerged in early Christianity. We know approximately when this idea became influential in the early church: it happened in the second half of the second century. Irenaeus of Lyons, writing in the 180s against ‘‘heresies,’’ expounds the idea most fully.2 The (true) churches, he says, derive their legitimacy from the apostles, and they do so in three ways. In the first place, the leaders of the churches, namely the bishops, have been authorized by the apostles through an unbroken chain of appointments – the idea of apostolic succession. Second, these churches and their leaders are the guardians of correct doctrine – the so-called ‘‘rule of truth’’ or ‘‘rule of faith’’ – which is likewise a legacy handed down from the apostles.3 This concept would eventually take shape as ‘‘the apostolic creed.’’ Finally, the churches possess, and rely upon, writings by the apostles. In this way, apostolicity serves as the master idea in the rhetorical construction of religious authority and ecclesiastical legitimacy. A motive cause for the growing importance of the idea of apostolicity was no doubt the sense of distance in time from the movement’s beginnings that must by that time have begun to be more strongly felt. The living memory that once linked the believers of the present with the generation of Jesus’ first followers had faded away. In this situation, a sense of continuity with the origins had to be, and could be, established on a new basis, namely by means of ideology and institutions. At the same time, Christianity in this period went through a development that was unique among the religions of antiquity, toward a more hierarchical and centralized form of organization accompanied by the will to control the beliefs of the members. In this situation, the three factors of episcopal power, creedal-like 2 3

See especially his Against Heresies, 3.1–5. For this, see also Irenaeus, Proof of the Apostolic Preaching, 3.

‘‘Forgery’’ in the New Testament

143

summaries of the faith, and a canon of scriptures combined to serve as instruments that created and ensured a religious orthodoxy. The idea of an apostolic tradition is here the common denominator. Ecclesiastical power, embodied in the bishops, was exerted in the form of claims to ownership of that tradition. Thus, the emergence of a canon of authoritative traditional texts was accompanied by the attribution of apostolic authorship to these texts. In other words, authorship became an issue only in the context of their canonization. Before the canonizing process began, the question of who wrote the texts had been unimportant. Some words now need to be said about the successive stages in that process. The first believers in Jesus as the Messiah (or ‘‘the Christ,’’ ho Christos in Greek) had inherited the Jewish canon of scriptures, primarily the Pentateuch, the Prophets, and a loosely defined group of other writings. In addition to that, specifically Christian traditions and texts also came to be endowed with authority in the course of the first century. In the first instance words and acts of Jesus himself were transmitted. Thus Paul in his letters, written in the 50s, already sometimes refers to Jesus’ sayings in his arguments.4 Written collections of the sayings of Jesus were made, as is evident from The Gospel of Thomas, the synoptic sayings source (Q), and the use of such collections in writings like 2 Clement. A second starting point for the future New Testament canon was the letters of Paul himself. The fact that additional letters were soon written in Paul’s name attests to the early authoritative status acquired by Paul’s texts, at least in some Christian congregations. Around 140 C E Marcion possessed a collection of Paul’s letters consisting of ten letters, and there is reason to believe that at least one collection of the Pauline epistolary corpus had been assembled already in the first century.5 Narrative accounts about Jesus, incorporating sayings traditions together with other materials such as miracle stories and the passion narrative, did not originally possess the same authority as the sayings of Jesus per se, or the Pauline letters. Several such accounts were written, more or less in competition with one another.6 Being anonymous, the authority to which they 4 5

6

See e.g. Koester, Ancient Christian Gospels, pp. 52–5. For a recent summary of the research on this question see Gamble, ‘‘The New Testament Canon,’’ pp. 282–7. In addition to the writings subsequently attributed to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, there exists a ‘‘Gospel of Peter,’’ papyrus fragments of further Jesus narratives (Oxyrhynchus papyri 840 and 1224; Egerton papyrus 2), literary fragments of the Gospel of the Hebrews and the Gospel of the Egyptians, etc. The best collection is Hennecke, Schneemelcher, and Wilson, New Testament Apocrypha, I .

144

EINAR THOMASSEN

aspired resided in their subject matter, the words and deeds of Jesus, not in the author who wrote them or their forms of presentation. In principle there was only one ‘‘gospel,’’ which could be told in different ways. In the second century, proof-text references are usually still made to the words of Jesus, not to the gospels as text. Justin Martyr, for instance, a little after the middle of that century, often quotes the words of Jesus, but without citing specific gospel texts.7 Such texts are referred to as ‘‘the memoirs of the apostles’’;8 the names of their authors are never mentioned. At that time, moreover, the forms of the texts also varied considerably,9 a fact that suggests that they were not considered to be ‘‘sacred’’ by those who copied them. It is clear that the transferral of canonicity from the words of Jesus contained in them to the evangelical documents themselves is a process that must have coincided with the ascription of named apostolic authors to these documents, together with the explicit delimitation of the number of authorized gospels. It is, again, Irenaeus who takes the decisive step in this direction. He is the first Christian theologian who expressly sets the number of authoritative gospels at four, neither more nor fewer,10 and at the same time he names the apostolic authors of those four gospels: the disciple Matthew; Mark, who was Peter’s disciple and interpreter; Paul’s companion Luke; and John, the disciple of the Lord.11 In this manner, the normative tradition is now defined as a closed canon of texts based on the criterion of apostolic authorship.12 Probably a little after Irenaeus, the so-called Muratori canon presents the earliest known full list of Christian books that possess special status.13 The 7

See e.g. Gamble, ‘‘The New Testament Canon,’’ pp. 279–80; Stanton, ‘‘Jesus Traditions and Gospels’’; Norelli, ‘‘Le Statut des textes.’’ 8 1 Apology 66, 67; Dialogue with Trypho 100, etc. 9 See Gamble, ‘‘The New Testament Canon,’’ p. 282. 10 See especially Against Heresies 3.11.8, where Irenaeus argues that there must be four gospels since there are four regions of the world and this corresponds to the universal extension of the church. 11 Against Heresies 3.1.1. Irenaeus did not himself invent these attributions. For the authorships of Matthew and Mark his source is known, namely Papias, a Christian writer of the first half of the second century. Papias’ work is lost, but the relevant passages are preserved as quotations in Eusebius, Church History 3.39.15–16. For the attributions of Luke and John as well, Irenaeus undoubtedly relies on existing traditions. 12 For the sake of precision it may be added that for Irenaeus the authority of the words of Jesus is not replaced by the words of the evangelists. It is rather that the four gospels are now the exclusive authorized source of those words, as Norelli, ‘‘Le Statut des textes,’’ p. 188, notes. More emphasis on the independent canonical authority for Irenaeus of the gospels as apostolic writings is put by Campenhausen, Entstehung, pp. 223–4. 13 The date of this catalogue, contained in a fragment of an eighth-century Latin manuscript, has been much discussed. Scholars had become increasingly inclined to accept a fourth-century date when Joseph Verheyden, in 2003 (‘‘The Canon Muratori’’), presented a very detailed argument in favour of the traditional early dating of the text.

‘‘Forgery’’ in the New Testament

145

list includes the four gospels, Acts, thirteen letters of Paul (Hebrews missing), two letters (only) of John, Jude, the Wisdom of Solomon (!), the Revelation of John, and the Apocalypse of Peter. The letters of Peter and James are not mentioned. Interestingly, the Shepherd of Hermas, which evidently held high prestige in some quarters, is explicitly rejected, with the explanation that ‘‘Hermas wrote the Shepherd quite lately in our time . . . it ought indeed to be read, but it cannot be read publicly in the Church to the people either among the prophets . . . or among the apostles.’’ This shows how apostolic authorship is the criterion for canonicity: the Shepherd is disqualified from canonical status because it is a recent work which was not composed in the time of the apostles. On the other hand, all the writings that are included on the list (with the peculiar exception of Wisdom), are attributed to apostolic figures; the document takes special care to detail the names of their authors and the circumstances of their composition. THE CRITERIA OF ORTHODOXY AND TRADITION

Once apostolic authorship had become an important criterion for the status of writings, the names of apostles began to be accorded to many writings which had previously circulated anonymously, and forged apostolic documents were produced – gospels, acts, letters, and apocalypses. A large number of such writings were in circulation, as is demonstrated by any modern collection of ‘‘New Testament Apocrypha.’’ Several of them were accepted as genuine and became ‘‘canonical,’’ while many others were rejected. It is obvious, therefore, that alleged apostolic authorship was not a sufficient criterion for according canonical status to a writing. At least as important were two other criteria, which functioned more or less implicitly, namely orthodoxy and widespread, traditional use. The criterion of orthodoxy could be used to refute the apostolic authorship of a given writing: if it contained doctrines that were deemed heretical it could not, as a matter of principle, have been written by an apostle. A well-known example is the case of Serapion, bishop of Antioch c. 200, who advised the congregation of Rhossus not to read the Gospel of Peter.14 Having first allowed them to use the gospel, he later read it himself and found that it contained docetic ideas, that is, that it denied the real corporeality and suffering of the Savior (which in actual fact is not necessarily true). Therefore, it must be one of the ‘‘writings which falsely bear their [sc. the apostles’] names.’’ Similarly, Eusebius, in the early fourth century, mentions 14

Eusebius, Church History 6.12.

146

EINAR THOMASSEN

the gospels of Peter, Thomas, Matthias, and ‘‘others,’’ as well as various acts of apostles, stating that ‘‘the opinion and tendency of their contents is widely dissonant from true orthodoxy and clearly shows that they are the forgeries of heretics.’’15 Thus, the criterion of correct doctrine – as determined by the bishops – was used to decide the historical question regarding authorship.16 However, widespread traditional acceptance and use of certain writings was also used increasingly often as an argument for their canonicity. Thus, when ecclesiastical writers discuss whether a certain writing should be accepted or not, the issue is often whether its acceptance is universal or disputed. For instance, Eusebius in his Church History (3.25) says: Among the disputed writings that are, nevertheless, familiar to the majority there is extant the epistle said to be by James, that of Jude, the second epistle of Peter and the so-called second and third epistles of John, whether these are by the evangelist or by somebody else with the same name. Among the spurious writings must also be counted the Acts of Paul, the so-called Shepherd, the Revelation of Peter, and, in addition, the so-called Epistle of Barnabas and the work known as the Teachings of the Apostles and, moreover, as I said, the Revelation of John, if this should seem to be the right place for it. For some, as I said, reject it as spurious, while others reckon it among the accepted writings. Now some have also counted among these writings the Gospel according to the Hebrews, which is especially favored by the Hebrews who have accepted Christ.17

The principle of tradition and consensus clearly has a weight of its own and cannot be subsumed under either that of apostolicity or that of orthodoxy, although no contradiction between these various criteria of canonicity is admitted to exist.18 It is, to be sure, a retrospective principle, which cannot be used to establish new religious ideas but rather presupposes that the historical development of a religion has reached a stage where tradition in itself has been invested with religious value.19 In the fourth century, such a tradition was still in the process of formation, not only with regard to the delimitation of a canon of apostolic scriptures, but also in the areas of creedal formulas, ritual practice, and the organization of ecclesiastical power. In the 15

16 17

18

19

Eusebius, Church History 3.25, trans. Kirsopp Lake in the Loeb Classical Library edition. Also cf. the Apostolic Constitutions (late fourth century) 6.16.1: ‘‘One must not rely on the names of the apostles, but on the nature of the matters and the correctness of the ideas.’’ See further de Jonge, ‘‘The New Testament Canon,’’ especially pp. 312–19. See the discussion in Kalin, ‘‘The New Testament Canon of Eusebius,’’ whose translation of the passage I have borrowed here. For a discussions of the various criteria of canonicity, see Bruce, Canon, pp. 255–69; McDonald, ‘‘Identifying’’; Formation, pp. 228–49. The argument from tradition and consensus is of course found in other religions as well. In Islam, for instance, it is codified in the principle of Ijma¯q.

‘‘Forgery’’ in the New Testament

147

long run, however, the sanctity of established tradition was to become the decisive factor that both gave permanence to the boundaries of the canon and conferred upon it the status of sacred scripture. THE SACRED BOOK

In the period from the end of the second century to the fourth the concept of the canon evolved from a list to a book. The invention of the codex and its widespread use as a format for books by the Christians instead of the roll probably contributed to the growing perception of the scriptures as a single book.20 The first Christian emperor Constantine is reported to have commissioned the manufacture of fifty complete Bible codices. The earliest full Bible manuscripts, in codex form, dating from the late fourth and early fifth centuries – the Sinaiticus, the Vaticanus, and the Alexandrinus – are also witnesses to the fact that by that time the Bible could take the form of a single book wrapped between two covers. By now, moreover, the Bible as a whole was conceived as divided into two ‘‘testaments’’: an ‘‘old’’ and a ‘‘new.’’ That terminology had originated in the late second century. Melito of Sardes (c. 170) is the first writer to speak about ‘‘the books of the old covenant,’’21 and Irenaeus, a decade later, is the first to refer to the old and the new covenants; subsequently, that terminology is found in Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian (who originates the Latin term testamentum), and Origen.22 Since, on the one hand, the word ‘‘covenant’’ primarily refers to the contractual relationship between God and his people and not to texts per se, but, on the other hand, ‘‘the old covenant,’’ as the Law, was thought to have been enshrined in the scriptures, and the writings of the apostles are commonly invoked as witnesses to ‘‘the new covenant,’’ it is often difficult to decide whether ‘‘the new covenant/testament’’ is being used by these authors as a name for the collection of apostolic writings as such or just refers to the idea of the covenant which the apostles express in their writings. At any rate, the meaning of the term gradually came to be transferred to the corpus of apostolic documents itself, so that the scriptural quality of these documents was conceived as being equal in nature to that of the textually codified Law and prophetic writings of the old covenant of the Jews. When Eusebius 20 21 22

See Metzger, Canon, pp. 108–9; Kraft, ‘‘Codex.’’ According to Eusebius, Church History 4.26.14. See McDonald, Formation, pp. 1–3; Ferguson, ‘‘Factors,’’ pp. 307–9. It should be pointed out that Origen, On First Principles 4.1.1, which is often quoted in this context, is textually uncertain.

148

EINAR THOMASSEN

speaks about ‘‘the New Testament’’ in the context of a discussion about which writings belong to it,23 it is clear that by his time the term had acquired the meaning with which we are familiar today. After the canon had become closed, had become tangible as a book, and had been invested with the aura of ancient tradition, a further stage in the canonization process could take force: the book as such was sanctified. It became the sacred scriptures, the Holy Bible, the container of the word of God. In this way, the Christian Bible became a variant of ‘‘the sacred book,’’ a well-known phenomenon in the history of religions. Christianity did not, of course, construe its sacred book as a revealed object that has been ‘‘given’’ as a whole, or ‘‘sent down,’’ as some other religious traditions do. One reason for that is that the primary vehicle of revelation for the Christians is, after all, the incarnate Son of God and not the Bible as such.24 If the Bible as a book nonetheless came to acquire the status of a unique revelation of divine speech, comparable to a book sent down from heaven, that was made possible by means of a theory of inspiration. God is the author of the Bible, having acted by inspiration on its human authors. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church says, ‘‘the books of both the Old and New Testaments in their entirety, with all their parts, are sacred and canonical because written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, they have God as their author and have been handed on as such to the Church herself.’’25 Now, this qualification of the entire Bible as the inspired word of God is evidently a reflection of the finished state of canon formation. It presupposes that the canon has become closed and appears as a single book possessing a unique religious status. It is that status which is indicated by describing the book as ‘‘inspired.’’ As we saw, however, inspiration was not the decisive criterion for the selection of books in the historical process of canon formation itself. The primary criteria were, instead, the combination of apostolic authorship and correct doctrine. Secondarily, the widespread acceptance (in the orthodox churches) of individual writings, based on these criteria, was decisive. It is a well-known fact that the idea of writing under divine inspiration in ancient Christianity extended much further 23 24

25

Church History 3.25. Theologically, theologians have often tried to harmonize these two ideas of divine revelation, as for example in the Catechism of the Catholic Church x134, quoting Hugh of St. Victor: ‘‘All Sacred Scripture is but one book, and that one book is Christ, because all divine Scripture speaks of Christ, and all divine Scripture is fulfilled in Christ.’’ Also cf. x102, which exploits the ambiguity of the term ‘‘the Word.’’ x105. The passage is a quotation from the dogmatic constitution Dei Verbum (1965), x11.

‘‘Forgery’’ in the New Testament

149

than the books that were accepted as canonical. The apostolic writings were certainly regarded as divinely inspired, by analogy with the prophets of the Old Testament, at least from the third century (Origen in particular). But that was not regarded as a distinctive quality belonging to those writings alone in the mass of Christian literature, nor was inspiredness normally an issue in discussions about the composition of the canon.26 The idea of divine inspiration as an exclusive property of the Bible texts was clearly invented after the fact, when the Bible had already acquired its unique and sacred position in the church. CANONICITY AND AUTHORSHIP

As we saw, assumed apostolic authorship was at first a necessary requirement for a book to be accepted as canonical in antiquity. It was on this basis that Hebrews was included, since it was thought to have been written by Paul, whereas the Shepherd of Hermas, the Didache, and the letters of Barnabas and Clement of Rome were eventually excluded because they were not deemed properly apostolic. However, already in antiquity doubts were raised about the authorship of Hebrews and some of the other commonly accepted writings. In the first half of the third century Origen had doubts about the Pauline authorship of Hebrews and the authenticity of 2 Peter, 2 and 3 John, James, and Jude; he nevertheless admired Hebrews for its style and theological ideas and also treated James and Jude as authoritative texts.27 In Origen’s treatment of such texts it is clear that considerations of contents (orthodoxy) and tradition have begun to override the issue of authorial authenticity, at least in so far as the question of authorship in these cases could be said to be uncertain or disputed. In the early fifth century, Jerome as well was doubtful as to who the real author of Hebrews was, but for him the question of authorship is now largely irrelevant: The epistle which is entitled ‘‘To the Hebrews’’ is accepted as the apostle Paul’s not only by the churches of the east but by all church writers in the Greek language of earlier times, although many judge it to be by Barnabas or Clement. It is of no great moment who the author is, since it is the work of a churchman and receives recognition day by day in the churches’ public reading.28 26

27

28

Stendahl, ‘‘Apocalypse,’’ especially pp. 243–5; Campenhausen, Entstehung, p. 383; Metzger, Canon, pp. 254–7; Bruce, Canon, pp. 263–8; McDonald, Formation, pp. 239–46; ‘‘Identifying,’’ pp. 435–9. See especially Eusebius, Church History 6.25.3–14; Metzger, Canon, pp. 138–9; Bruce, Canon, pp. 192–4. Epistle 129.3, quoted from Bruce, Canon, pp. 226–7; also cf. Metzger, Canon, pp. 235–6.

150

EINAR THOMASSEN

Similar considerations are applied by Jerome to other writings whose authorship is dubious, such as, for instance, the letter of Jude: ‘‘by age and use it has gained authority and is reckoned among the holy scriptures.’’29 Thus, the force of tradition now allows writings to retain their canonical status in spite of doubts about who actually wrote them, and notwithstanding the fact that authorship clearly was an essential factor securing their status initially. In a sense, therefore, apostolic authorship as a criterion for canonicity has now been subordinated to that of traditional acceptance and use.30 However, an important distinction must here be made. The fact that authorship was no longer considered to be decisive does not imply that Jerome or any other church father was prepared to accept as canonical writings which they thought were pseudepigraphal, that is, writings pretending to be written by somebody else.31 Fraud was certainly not acceptable, especially not in the holy scriptures. If Hebrews can be left in the canon, it is because it does not itself claim to be written by Paul. A writing such as the letter to Philemon is different: if it were not in fact written by Paul, as it itself claims, and which is actually disputed by a few people, Jerome says, then it could not be received into the canon.32 But it has to be a letter by Paul, he concludes, otherwise it could not have been accepted by all the churches in the world!33 Similarly, the question of the authorship of the catholic epistles – those of Peter, John, James, Jude – is settled either by affirming the weight of tradition with regard to their authorship, or by entertaining the possibility that they may have been written by people bearing the same names as the apostles.34 Deliberate pseudepigraphy is out of the question for a canonical writing. THE MIDDLE AGES AND THE REFORMATION

From the fifth century on, the New Testament canon of twenty-seven writings was essentially fixed,35 sanctioned by tradition and sanctified as the 29 30 31

32 35

On Illustrious Men 4; Bruce, Canon, p. 228; Metzger, Canon, p. 235. For the criterion of ‘‘use’’ in general, see McDonald, Formation, pp. 246–9; ‘‘Identifying,’’ pp. 432–4. This distinction is sometimes not clearly made by modern authors who, apparently from a desire to save the integrity of the canon, downplay the importance of authorial authenticity for attributing canonical status to writings in antiquity. Very clear on this issue are Baum, Pseudepigraphie, and Clarke, ‘‘The Problem of Pseudonymity.’’ Cf. Baum, Pseudepigraphie, pp. 111–12. 33 Ibid., p. 111. 34 See Bruce, Canon, pp. 227–8. Some wavering can still be observed after this date. In the West, the Pseudo-Pauline Epistle to the Laodiceans was often included in the canon throughout the Middle Ages. The definitive inclusion of Revelation happened in the West with the Council of Toledo in 633. See Leipoldt, Geschichte, I I , pp. 1–13. In the East, the authenticity of Revelation as a work by the disciple John continued to be

‘‘Forgery’’ in the New Testament

151

inspired word of God. The question of authentic apostolic authorship, essential in the early centuries when the canon was still in its formative process, was submerged under the growing autonomous weight of tradition. In the Middle Ages, doubts about the Pauline authorship of Hebrews (for instance) were expressed occasionally36 – Jerome’s discussions of this and similar issues were not forgotten. The critical scholarship of the humanists, in particular Erasmus and Cardinal Cajetan, returned questions of authenticity to the agenda in a more serious manner; not only the author of Hebrews but the authorship of 2 Peter, James, 2 and 3 John, and Revelation began to be critically discussed once more. Such scholarship was little appreciated by the church, however.37 When the authority of the church and ecclesiastical tradition were challenged in the Reformation, the questions of canon and canonicity were reopened in a more radical fashion. The attitude of the reformers to the biblical canon was, however, paradoxical. On the one hand they invoked the sacred words of scripture against the authority of ecclesiastical tradition (sola scriptura); on the other hand they were remarkably insensitive to suggestions that the sanctity attributed to the scriptures was a product of, and presupposed, that same tradition.38 Scripture was somehow thought to possess divine authority independently of human history and human institutions. In criticizing tradition as a basis for canonicity, the reformers did not return to the ancient criterion of apostolic authorship for deciding which writings rightfully belonged to holy scripture. In fact, Martin Luther did not think formal authorship was an essential matter at all. In a famous passage he stated: ‘‘That which does not teach Christ is still not apostolic, even if it were the teaching of Peter and Paul. On the other hand, that which preaches Christ, that would be apostolic even if Judas, Annas, Pilate or Herod did it.’’39 This means that the word ‘‘apostolic’’ for Luther does not refer to the identity of the author of a text but rather to a quality of the text itself. Thus, Luther could say of the book of Revelation that it ‘‘lacks everything that I hold as apostolic or prophetic.’’40 Apostolicity is a function of the contents of a writing. As we have seen, this was in reality the case in antiquity as well, since the question of apostolic authorship of

36 37 38

39 40

disputed, and only in the tenth and eleventh centuries did it become a regular part of the Greek Orthodox Bible. In the Syriac Peshitta, the Bible of the Eastern Syrian Church, Revelation was never included. For a brief survey of the canonical status of Revelation, see Collins, ‘‘Revelation,’’ p. 695. E.g. by Thomas Aquinas and Nicholas of Lyra; see Leipoldt, Geschichte, I I , pp. 6–9. Leipoldt, Geschichte, I I , pp. 13–42. This objection was in fact raised by Catholic opponents of the reformers already in the sixteenth century; cf. Bainton, ‘‘Bible,’’ pp. 4–5. From the preface to his German translation of James, quoted from Bruce, Canon, p. 244. Quoted from Bruce, Canon, p. 244.

152

EINAR THOMASSEN

a writing even then was subject to the criterion of orthodoxy. The difference is that Christian theologians during the formative phase of the canon did not divorce the notion of apostolicity from that of authorship; rather, orthodoxy was an indication of authenticity. It was only after the canon had become settled, and was sanctified by tradition, that doubts about authenticity could be raised without seriously affecting the canonical status of a writing, as in the case of Jerome, for example. Luther, however, could not appeal to tradition, so he had to find another way of arguing for the canonicity of a New Testament writing without insisting on its historical authenticity as an apostolic document. Luther’s well-known canonical principle was was Christum treibt – ‘‘what promotes Christ.’’ That principle allowed him to critically evaluate the individual documents of the received Bible. Some of them did not qualify. He famously characterized the epistle of James as ‘‘an epistle of straw,’’ and was also critical of Hebrews, Jude, and Revelation. These four were relegated to the end of his German Bible, and he evidently did not accord them the same canonical status as the other writings of the New Testament.41 Thus, Luther relativized the authority of the Bible as an integral and unique sacred book, making canonicity a function of a doctrinal principle and thereby creating a ‘‘canon within the canon.’’42 At the same time he did not actually make any changes in the composition of the New Testament, but remained fundamentally loyal to the tradition of the sacred book. PSEUDEPIGRAPHY AS A THEOLOGICAL PROBLEM

After the rise of modern critical biblical scholarship in the nineteenth century, Christian theology has increasingly been faced with the problem of the inauthenticity of many of their canonical writings. For one thing, several of the New Testament writings do not seem to have been written by the apostolic authors to which later tradition ascribed them. As we have seen, this was perceived as a problem already in antiquity, in particular with the book of Hebrews and some of the catholic letters. Today, the same situation presents itself with the four canonical gospels and Acts. While many conservative Christians are clearly uncomfortable with that 41 42

See e.g. Bruce, Canon, pp. 243–4. Lønning, Kanon. A different path was chosen by Calvin. He accepted the integrity of the New Testament canon, which, like the rest of scripture, possesses throughout a unique spiritual quality that is recognizable by any reader guided by the same spirit. Like Luther, Calvin located canonicity in an ultimately subjective criterion, but the implications of that criterion were very different, since Calvin did not allow for any internal differentiation of scriptural authority.

‘‘Forgery’’ in the New Testament

153

situation, and often wish to maintain the traditional ascriptions of authorship, academically trained believers usually save the canonical status of these originally anonymous documents by means of the old criterion of traditional acceptance and use: even if their authors can no longer be known with certainty, these documents are nevertheless considered authentic witnesses to the faith of the earliest generations of Christians. More serious is the problem of pseudepigraphy, the presence in the canon of documents that themselves pretend to be written by somebody else. For how can forgery be admitted in sacred scripture, which is thought, in some way or another, to be the word of God? Can the Holy Spirit lie?43 The problem is exacerbated by the fact that several of the suspect writings seem to deliberately intend to deceive: For example, if pseudonymous, the writer of Ephesians denounces the very deceit he is perpetrating (4:25); the author of 2 Thessalonians appears to condemn forgeries while at the same time creating one (2:2–3); the individual who penned the Pastoral Epistles produces an elaborate and complex fabrication of detailed personalia to create the impression of Pauline authorship ([2 Timothy] 4:9–19); the originator of several deutero-Pauline letters furthers his deception by claiming to append a genuine signature (Col 4:18, 2 Thess 3:17); and in 1 Peter the pseudonymous writer hypocritically admonishes his readers to put away all malice, guile, insincerity, and envy (2:1), and to conduct themselves in a manner above reproach.44

Various strategies have been developed to deal with this embarrassing problem. One of them is, of course, to deny that any of the New Testament writings are pseudepigraphal; however, even if the authenticity of such texts as Colossians and Ephesians still has its defenders, there is hardly a reputable scholar today who would be prepared to claim, for instance, that 2 Peter was actually written by Peter. In consequence, various attempts to reconcile pseudepigraphy with canonicity have been made. To conclude, two such strategies in particular will here be briefly commented on. The first consists in denying or minimizing the element of deception in pseudepigraphy so that the traditional canon can be maintained in its integrity. The other consists in restricting the authoritative status of the texts in the transmitted canon to certain writings or passages.45 43

44 45

Candlish, ‘‘On the moral character’’; Brox, Falsche Verfasserangaben, pp. 120–1; Baum, Pseudepigraphie, p. 180; Clarke, ‘‘The Problem of Pseudonymity,’’ pp. 461–2. Clarke, ‘‘The problem of pseudonymity,’’ p. 464. See the clear discussion in Baum, Pseudepigraphie, pp. 181–91. Baum also mentions a third possible position, that of accepting deception as a legitimate tool used by the Holy Spirit (pia fraus). However, this idea does not seem to have attracted many theologians.

154

EINAR THOMASSEN

The first strategy is very common. The argument has often been made that pseudepigraphy was a common phenomenon in antiquity, almost a literary convention, and that modern notions of authenticity did not apply.46 There is, however, a good amount of evidence that the notion of literary forgery did in fact exist in antiquity and that such practices were widely condemned.47 This also applies to Christian theologians, who in many cases denounced writings they considered to be forgeries.48 The fact is this: there is no evidence whatsoever that Christian theologians in antiquity ever accepted as canonical a writing they positively thought was pseudepigraphal. Moreover, it is highly unlikely that they would ever have accepted as canonical any writing of whose inauthenticity they were convinced. In order to save the pseudepigrapha for the canon, many contemporary theologians have therefore downplayed the importance of authorship for canonicity and instead emphasize the fact that those writings have stood the test of usefulness to the church and have been canonized on account of their theological contents and edification value.49 This is undoubtedly a realistic assessment of an essential factor in the historical canonization process. But it is nevertheless a fact that usefulness by itself was not a sufficient criterion, since not everything that was considered useful by ancient theologians was included in the canon. The question therefore remains whether a document would ever have had a chance to be considered useful if it was known to be a forgery. The second solution can be seen as a form of the Lutheran idea of a ‘‘canon within the canon.’’ It allows the Christian believer to disregard certain parts of the scriptures as not having divine revelatory status, in order to concentrate on the parts that contain the central Christian message. This is probably a realistic description of how any canon functions in practice: selectivity and differences of emphasis inevitably occur whenever scripture is being interpreted and appropriated in real life. However, as a normative principle for delineating canonical texts the idea seems impracticable, since it is not a priori evident what the central Christian message is. It is hard to avoid the impression that the principle undermines the very idea of an authoritative scriptural canon, and that the canonical texts in this way are reduced to sources for religious inspiration, not different in essence from the inspiration that may be drawn from texts outside the canon. 46

47 48 49

Baum, Pseudepigraphie, pp. 183–4, gives a survey of writers who downplay the element of forgery in pseudepigraphy. See also the discussion in Clarke, ‘‘The Problem of Pseudonymity.’’ Speyer, ‘‘Religio¨se Pseudepigraphie’’; Baum, Pseudepigraphie, pp. 21–30. Baum, Pseudepigraphie, pp. 99–112. This is the conclusion on which Clarke, ‘‘The Problem of Pseudonymity,’’ falls down; also cf. Brox, Falsche Verfasserangaben, especially pp. 120–9.

‘‘Forgery’’ in the New Testament

155

The most radical solution, if a New Testament canon is still considered a viable idea at all, might be to redo the work of the early church and to remove from the canon the inauthentic apostolic documents that were erroneously included in antiquity. As far as I know, such a course has hardly been seriously suggested by anybody,50 and it is not likely that it will be, since, whatever criteria were originally employed in assembling the canon, its sanctity is ultimately an effect of tradition. REFERENCES

Auwers, Jean-Marie, and Henk Jan de Jonge (eds.). The Biblical Canons, Bibliotheca Ephemeridum Theologicarum Lovaniensium 153 (Leuven: Peeters, 2003). Bainton, Roland H., ‘‘The Bible in the Reformation,’’ in S. L. Greenslade (ed.), The Cambridge History of the Bible, I I I : The West from the Reformation to the Present Day (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1963), pp. 1–37. Baum, Armin Daniel, Pseudepigraphie und literarische Fa¨lschung im fru¨hen Christentum. (Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament 2. Reihe 138) (Tu¨bingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2001). Brox, Norbert, Falsche Verfasserangaben: Zur Erkla¨rung der fru¨hchristlichen Pseudepigraphie, Stuttgarter Bibelstudien 79 (Stuttgart: KBW Verlag, 1975). (ed.), Pseudepigraphie in der heidnischen und ju¨disch-christlichen Antike (Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 1977). Bruce, F. F. The Canon of Scripture (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1988). Campenhausen, Hans F. von, Die Entstehung der christlichen Bibel, Beitra¨ge zur historischen Theologie 39 (Tu¨bingen: Mohr Siebeck, 1968; repr. 2003). Candlish, J. S. ‘‘On the Moral Character of Pseudonymous Books,’’ The Expositor 4/4 (1891), pp. 91–107, 262–79. German trans. in Brox, Pseudepigraphie, pp. 7–42. Clarke, Kent D., ‘‘The Problem of Pseudonymity in Biblical Literature and Its Implications for Canon Formation,’’ in McDonald and Sanders, The Canon Debate, pp. 440–68. Collins, Adela Yarbro, ‘‘Revelation, Book of,’’ Anchor Bible Dictionary, V , pp. 694–708. de Jonge, H. J., ‘‘The New Testament Canon,’’ in Auwers and de Jonge, The Biblical Canons, pp. 309–19. Ferguson, Everett, ‘‘Factors Leading to the Selection and Closure of the New Testament Canon,’’ in McDonald and Sanders, The Canon Debate, pp. 295–320. 50

Proposals for ‘‘New New Testaments’’ have in fact been made by Robert W. Funk (see ‘‘The Once and Future New Testament’’). He envisages both a smaller New Testament, as a canon within a canon, and a larger one, which would include documents that were excluded in antiquity. It is difficult not to think that the very notion of ‘‘canon’’ disintegrates in such proposals. The Westar Institute in California in the late 1990s entertained a plan for a new New Testament, but their ‘‘Canon seminar’’ never got off the ground.

156

EINAR THOMASSEN

Funk, Robert W., ‘‘The Once and Future New Testament,’’ in McDonald and Sanders, The Canon Debate, pp. 541–57. Gamble, Harry Y., ‘‘The New Testament Canon: Recent Research and the Status Questionis,’’ in McDonald and Sanders, The Canon Debate, pp. 267–94. Hennecke, Edgar, and Wilhelm Schneemelcher, The New Testament Apocrypha, English trans. ed. by R. McL. Wilson, 3rd edn., 2 vols. (Cambridge: James Clarke, 1991–2). Kalin, Everett R., ‘‘The New Testament Canon of Eusebius,’’ in McDonald and Sanders, The Canon Debate, pp. 386–404. Koester, Helmut, Ancient Christian Gospels: Their History and Development (London: SCM Press, 1990). Kraft, Robert A., ‘‘The Codex and Canon Consciousness,’’ in McDonald and Sanders, The Canon Debate, pp. 229–33. Leipoldt, Johannes, Geschichte des neutestamentlichen Kanons, 2 vols. (Leipzig: Hinrichs, 1907–8). Repr. Leipzig: Zentralantiquariat der DDR 1974. Lønning, Inge, ‘‘Kanon im Kanon’’: Zum dogmatischen Grundlagenproblem des neutestamentlichen Kanons, Forschungen zur Geschichte und Lehre des Protestantismus 43 (Oslo: Universitetsforlaget; Munich: Chr. Kaiser, 1972). McDonald, Lee M., The Formation of the Christian Biblical Canon, 2nd edn. (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1995). ‘‘Identifying Scripture and Canon in the Early Church: The Criteria Question,’’ in McDonald and Sanders, The Canon Debate, pp. 416–39. McDonald, Lee M., and James A. Sanders (eds.), The Canon Debate (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2002). Meade, David G., Pseudonymity and Canon: An Investigation into the Relationship of Authorship and Authority in Jewish and Earliest Christian Tradition, Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament 39 (Tu¨bingen: Mohr-Siebeck, 1986). Metzger, Bruce M., The Canon of the New Testament: Its Origin, Development, and Significance (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1987). ‘‘Literary Forgeries and Canonical Pseudepigrapha,’’ Journal of Biblical Literature 91 (1972), pp. 3–24. Norelli, Enrico, ‘‘Le Statut des textes chre´tiens de l’oralite´ a` l’e´criture et leur rapport avec l’institution au IIe sie`cle,’’ in E. Norelli (ed.), Recueils normatifs et canons dans l’Antiquite´: Perspectives nouvelles sur la formation des canons juif et chre´tien dans leur contexte culturel (Lausanne: Editions du Ze`bre, 2004), pp. 147–94. Speyer, Wolfgang, ‘‘Religio¨se Pseudepigraphie und literarische Fa¨lschung im Altertum,’’ Jahrbuch fu¨r Antike und Christentum 8/9 (1965/6), pp. 88–125. Repr. in Speyer, Fru¨hes Christentum im antiken Strahlungsfeld, Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament 50 (Tu¨bingen: Mohr-Siebeck, 1989), pp. 21–58. Stanton, Graham N., ‘‘Jesus Traditions and Gospels in Justin Martyr and Irenaeus,’’ in Auwers and de Jonge, The Biblical Canons, pp. 353–70.

‘‘Forgery’’ in the New Testament

157

Stendahl, Krister, ‘‘The Apocalypse of John and the Epistles of Paul in the Muratorian Fragment,’’ in William Klassen and Gradon F. Snyder (eds.), Current Issues in New Testament Interpretation: Essays in Honor of Otto A. Piper (London: SCM Press, 1962), pp. 239–45. Verheyden, Joseph, ‘‘The Canon Muratori: A Matter of Dispute,’’ in Auwers and de Jonge, The Biblical Canons, pp. 487–556.

CHAPTER

8

Three phases of inventing Rosicrucian tradition in the seventeenth century Susanna A˚kerman

The obscurely phrased announcement in 1614 that a secret Rosicrucian brotherhood had been established to cause a radical religious reform was to provoke many reactions. Even if one recognized their traits of Christian kabbalism, alchemy, and apocalypticism, Rosicrucian writings were written under the seal of secrecy, signed by pseudonyms or acrostics formed from the authors’ initials, and no one seemed to know their true origin. Although they were anonymous, the Rosicrucian manifestos spread intense expectations of a new age, an era of heavenly grace and spirit created by a general reformation of religion and society, and a renewal of all sciences and arts. All natural connections in the cosmos that were hidden or scattered would now be brought together, researched, and revealed. The first Rosicrucian manifesto, The Fame of the Brotherhood of the Rosy Cross, Addressed to All Learned and to All Heads of State in Europe, spoke of a German knight, Christian Rosenkreutz, who had travelled to the Orient and had returned with arcane and mystical knowledge. The Fama claimed that his hidden grave had recently been rediscovered, 120 years after it was sealed. It was said to contain encyclopedic and revelatory texts, as well as an ever-burning lamp to be used for the recovering and further spread of this knowledge. The author of the initial Rosicrucian manifestos, Fama fraternitatis roseae crucis and Confessio fraternitatis roseae crucis (Kassel, 1614–15), is now generally agreed to be the theology student Johann Valentin Andreae, inspired by the apocalypticist Tobias Hess and indebted to the esoteric library of the law professor Christoph Besold, all living in the Lutheran university town of Tu¨bingen. J. V. Andreae reveals in his autobiography that he is the author of the spiritual allegory The Chemical Wedding of Christian Rosencreutz, 1459 (Strassburg, 1616), setting forth an invitation to the marriage of a king and queen in a hidden castle, built above a crypt where Venus lies asleep. Andreae was ordained priest in 1613, and his subsequent silence on the authorship of the Rosicrucian 158

Three phases of inventing Rosicrucian tradition

159

manifestos – and his claim that the Rosicrucian fraternity was a ‘‘ludibrium,’’ a playful fiction and hoax – is due to his having to conform to his priestly role. However, several statements of the Fama are to be found also in his later work. The manifestos were read as they circulated in manuscript as early as in 1611 by Paracelsians in the ambience of the independent politician Prince August of Anhalt.1 The sixteenth-century medical doctor Paracelsus’ medical, philosophical, and theological writings focus on the healing powers hidden in the natural juices, released as the light of nature – a light explained by his three principles: sulphur, mercury, and salt. Rosicrucians were thought to have rediscovered Adam’s knowledge in Paradise, to have continued to guard the methods to obtain it, and to be prepared to transmit this knowledge to new adepts. That the Tu¨bingen group had written the manifestos was for the most part entirely unknown. When in 1623 an anonymous Rosicrucian statement was posted on the Pont Neuf in Paris, there was a general realization that the doctrines of the manifestos were heretical and of a German apocalyptic origin. The French scholar Gabriel Naude´ began to analyze their doctrines, and identified their interest in the Jewish mystical techniques of kabbalah (an interest which had emerged also in France), but still he believed that there was a secret organization of this type somewhere in Germany.2 In England in 1616, the medical doctor Robert Fludd wrote a defense of the Rosicrucian manifestos and then worked out a system of Rosicrucian philosophy based on alchemy, kabbalah, and magic. He published the work Summum Bonum: Quod est verum magiae, cabalae, alchymiae, Fratrem Rosae Crucis verorum verae subiectum (Frankfurt, 1629), using the pseudonym Joachim Frizius. Fludd set his natural philosophy in a Rosicrucian context as he thought of the brotherhood as poised to receive new thinking, but it seems that he was as ignorant of Andreae’s activities as anyone else. A reaction came in Paris in 1639 when the Catholic atomist Pierre Gassendi and the Catholic mechanist Marin Mersenne published highly critical arguments against Fludd’s Rosicrucian philosophy. They claimed that Fludd wanted to demonstrate that the Spiritus mundi (the World Soul) was identical to Christ and that he intended to turn alchemy into a religion by explaining the creation alchemically. They concluded that Rosicrucianism was both scientifically unsound and a threat to mainstream Christianity.3 However, there continued to emerge important Rosicrucian 1 3

Gilly, Cimelia; Rosenkreutz. Edighoffer, ‘‘Rosicrucianism I.’’ Churton, Golden Builders.

2

Naude´, Instruction a` la France.

160

S U S A N N A A˚ K E R M A N

traditions, invented in the seventeenth century, that have been less studied and to which we now turn. JOHANNES BUREUS: AN EXAMPLE OF BELIEF IN THE ROSICRUCIAN MANIFESTOS

Creating a widespread consternation, the original Rosicrucian manifestos received positive replies from many places in northern Europe.4 One of those who answered the enigmatic call for a brotherhood in protection of the new age of reform was the Swedish royal archivist and interpreter of the Scandinavian Runes, Johannes Bureus (1568–1652). When Bureus had read the first Rosicrucian tract, Fama Fraternitatis RC (Kassel, 1614), which presents a secret society guarding hidden knowledge soon to be revealed, he published his FRC Fama e Scanzia redux (s.l., 1616) which in seven sections presents biblical verses pointing to the dawning of the new age. Bureus draws special attention to Balaam’s passage on the coming of ‘‘a star out of Jacob and a sceptre [that] shall rise out of Israel’’ (Numbers 24:17). He took the text to be an allusion to the hidden significance of the new star in the Swan in 1602, also called the Northern Cross, and the second new star in Serpentario in 1604, both spoken of in the Rosicrucian Fama as presaging the new era of illuminating grace. Bureus develops numbers for the interpretation of the Apocalypse, creating a chronology marking significant revelations in the field of learning, and thus inventing historical links from the Rosicrucians back to the Reformation and the Renaissance: 1396, the year of the emergence of Johan Hus, the first European reformer, as well as the year of the opening of the Greek school by Immanuel Chrysolaras, the translator of Plato and author of a Greek grammar in the same year. 1530, with Martin Luther coming forth and the Hebrew school opening through Johannes Reuchlin, the Christian kabbalist. 1614, when ‘‘was heard the sacred voice ‘as a call from the desert’ which was raised to a sense never higher’’ – a reference to the Rosicrucian manifestos.5 Signed with J. T. A. Bureus’ concealed initials, ‘‘BisvATI Ierubbabel,’’ his pamphlet trumpeted the title Buccina Jubilei Ultimi – hyperboreic prediction of Eos, smiting with resplendent noise the summits of the mountains of Europe, sounding amidst the hills and valleys of Arabia. The pamphlet 4

Ibid.; A˚kerman, Rose Cross Over the Baltic.

5

Ms. R 551a, Uppsala Universitetsbibliotek.

Three phases of inventing Rosicrucian tradition

161

specifically announces recent discoveries of ‘‘northern antiquities’’ that would be instrumental for the new reform of science, the arts, and society. Essential to Bureus’ work was the idea of a prisca theologia – the ancient theology – a primary and pristine form of thought, traceable back to the very beginning of time, and still valid in his own epoch. During this early golden age the Christian doctrine of salvation had already been formulated, albeit in pagan terms. The theme of the wisdom of the ancients was a central motif in the Italian Renaissance and was seen as an eternally valid perennial philosophy. Bureus’ promotion of northern antiquities, revealing hitherto unknown knowledge, is thus clearly shaped by the Renaissance style of thinking. Bureus’ ideas on the mystical origin of letters were formulated in a manuscript dating from 1605 that dealt with the combination of Runes into unitary symbols with spiritual significance. Bureus developed these signs in a series of manuscripts entitled Adulruna rediviva, in which he told of the arrangement of the fifteen-letter Runic script, the futhark, into new ‘‘flocks’’ with assigned meanings. It is apparent from this text that in 1610 Bureus had read the British alchemist John Dee’s complex geometric theory on the origin of letters, Monas hieroglyphica (Antwerp, 1564). Bureus adapted Dee’s idea of the Monas as a universal sign, formed by the planetary signs, and functioning as a norm or matrix in forming the Latin and Greek letters (see figure 8.1). Bureus presented his Adulruna as a similar secret design that he furthermore claimed had been used at the beginning of time to create the first Runes.6 The design of the Adulruna was the result of his earlier combining of the Runes into cross-like symbols in service to the ‘‘theanthropos,’’ the god-man who was to lead his flock into the new spiritualized society. The symbols revealed the existence of a hidden seat of power in the north. Bureus saw these combinations of Runes as a northern equivalent of the Jewish kabbalah, a ‘‘notaricon suethia,’’ a system by which letters are assigned numerical values, thus creating new links between words, making possible further interpretations. Bureus invented a new historical context for the Runes by giving them an origin in the primordial time of the northern Sibyls, such as the imaginary figure Alruna, purportedly a northern prophetess. Now, in 1616, he announced their rediscovery. The background to these new constructions is found in the occult tradition. Bureus says in his diary that it was through a small book, Arbatel’s De magia

6

Bureus mentions Dee’s Monas on January 16, 1610; see Ms. N 24, fo. 60v., Linko¨pings Stiftsbibliotek.

162

S U S A N N A A˚ K E R M A N

Figure 8.1 John Dee’s Monas

veterum (Basel, 1575), that his ‘‘desire for the kabbalah’’ was kindled.7 Arbatel’s book stands in the tradition of Cornelius Agrippa’s occult philosophy and demonstrates various magical methods. Yet it is not kabbalistic in the sephirothic sense, that is, by references to traditionally kabbalistic concepts such as the tree of life and its ten luminous emanations. Instead, it describes the seven governing planetary angels and tells of Olympic magic or how the magi can draw down their powers with specially constructed seals. In this way, God’s word vibrantly emanates to materialize in a precise character that further transmits its power. Bureus’ notion of kabbalah is thus closely related to magical practices and the spiritual interpretation of signs. Consequently, he refers to the history of divination and magic, the tradition of Hermes Trismegistos, Pythagoras, and the Sibylls,8 as set out by J. J. Boissard in his De divinatione & magicis prestigiis (Oppenheim, 1615), printed by Theodore de Bry, the Rosicrucian printer. Drawing upon Renaissance views of a prisca theologia, an ancient theology, Bureus was to begin his Adulruna manuscript with an exposition of how the pagan thinkers Hermes, Zoroaster, Orpheus, Plato, Virgil, and the Sibylls had spoken in enigmas of the coming Christian world, and he conceived Alruna to have done the same. Alongside this Hermetic tradition was set readings in the kabbalah. Bureus mentions Cesare Evoli, author of De divinis attributis quae sephirot ab Hebraeis nuncupata (Venice, 1573), which sets out the sephirothic tree, comments upon the relations between the ten luminous emanations, and explains them as divine virtues.9 Bureus also records readings of the Renaissance Christian kabbalists Johannes Reuchlin, Petrus Galatinus, and Giovanni Pico della Mirandola, especially Pico’s book on the seven days of creation, Heptaplus.10 Another overt source of ideas is Heinrich 7 8 10

Diary note for 1591 edited in Klemming, ‘‘Anteckningar.’’ 9 Ms. R 551b, Uppsala Universitetsbibliotek. Ms. N 24, Linko¨pings Stiftsbibliotek. fo. 35. Ibid., fo. 48.

Three phases of inventing Rosicrucian tradition

163

Khunrath’s vividly illustrated text on spiritual alchemy, Amphitheatrum sapientiae aeternae (Hanau, 1609) – ‘‘The Amphitheatre of Eternal Wisdom’’ – from which Bureus draws the image of the kabbalist in ecstatic prayer.11 Bureus further read the Sefer Yetzirah (the ‘‘Book of Creation’’) in the Christian kabbalist Guillaume Postel’s Latin edition. From this kabbalist source Bureus conceived the notion of how letters pour forth from a divine source to combine into spiritual entities. Bureus copied the idea of how to form the Hebrew letters out of a single yod and chirek (i.e. vocalization marks) and how they are constructed by Postel through the use of two semicircles inclosed in a larger semicircle.12 One of the Adulruna manuscripts documents Bureus’ invention of a northern linguistic mystery explaining the divine glory of the Trinity, now entitled Adul-Runa rediviva ad Trinitatis divinam gloriam ex patriae monumentis . . . theosophiae vestita radiis in scenam prodies anno crucis 1605. Here, the Runes were collected in groups, first in sequence and then as spatial arrangements with spiritual significance.13 Finally, Bureus presented the sevenfold herdsman’s staff that worked as a Runic sign put in the hand of the great reformer.14 The sevenfold staff was presented as an esoteric seal hiding potent divine mysteries of which Bureus had penetrated the secret. This sign was depicted standing on an altar in Bureus’ edition of the anonymous verse in the Rosicrucian text Ara foederis theraphici F.X.R. (s.l., 1616), which claimed, ‘‘Whoever has doubts about the Fraternity of the Rosy Cross, let him read this and having read the poem, he will be certain.’’ Thus the poem proclaimed that the Rosicrucian fraternity had attracted new supporters, but the location and membership of the fraternity itself remained hidden. Bureus added the line ‘‘Rosa est nova et vetus crux.’’ Thus he also asserted the existence of the fraternity. He even disclosed an alchemical secret on his new frontispiece: inscribed on the altar was a rose, and on it a tau within a circle, the sign for sulphuric acid, used in the preparation of the philosopher’s stone.15 The acid derives from vitriol, the green salt or iron sulphate. As usual, the tract was printed under the seal of secrecy, signed only by initials, thus again reproducing the mystery surrounding the location of the Rosicrucian fraternity.

11 12 13 15

Ibid., fo. 141. Ibid., fo. 56. Cf. the letters drawn out of a point and circle in Postel’s De originibus linguarum (1553). Ms. R 551a, Uppsala Universitetsbibliotek. 14 Ibid. On the frontispiece of Bureus’ pirated edition of Ara foederis theraphici (s.l., 1616), but most visibly seen on Franckenberg’s copy of it in Ms. N 157 B, Leiden Universitetsbibliotek.

164

S U S A N N A A˚ K E R M A N

Bureus follows the alchemical tradition of simultaneously hiding and revealing the alchemical process. Certain aspects of this process were kept among the practitioners and adepts so that, as with trade secrets, one would need to be an acknowledged member of the group of practitioners in order fully to engage in alchemy. By giving hints, plain to those who know, but hidden to all others, the alchemical author nevertheless wants to impress his power and his possession of esoteric knowledge on the reader. For the adept, as the motto goes, the hidden messages of alchemical texts are easy to decipher, their decoding as plain as ‘‘the work of women and child’s play.’’16 It is this impression of having power over the arcana of nature which Rosicrucian texts are designed to convey. Those who could understand the inner message of the text would participate fully in the enigma. As the title page of The Chemical Wedding of Christian Rosenkreutz states, this was not a path open to all: ‘‘Mysteries made public become cheap and things profaned lose their grace. Therefore cast not pearls before swine nor make a bed of roses for an ass.’’ Bureus’ Rosicrucian writings also have this enigmatic character of protecting a core of secrets in formulations that keep out those lacking the necessary background, and at the same time creating an enigma that draws in those who have been prepared.17 THE THEORY OF HEAVENLY DEW AND ITS INFLUENCE FROM JOHN DEE TO THE ROSICRUCIANS

Bureus use of Dee’s ideas speaks in favor of the English Renaissance scholar Frances Yates’s hypothesis in The Rosicrucian Enlightenment that Dee’s Monas was important as an ideological element in forming the Rosicrucian ideas. She focused on its prominent place on the invitation card to the royal wedding described in the opening pages of The Chemical Wedding of Christian Rosenkreutz. It is thought that Yates developed her connection too far, however, in suggesting that ‘‘we should see the movement behind the three Rosicrucian manifestoes as a movement ultimately stemming from John Dee.’’18 Her view has been criticized by a number of Renaissance scholars, who argue that Yates’s general scenario is misconstrued.19 The bibliographer of Rosicrucianism, Carlos Gilly, concludes that Dee did not have such a central role in forming the Rosicrucian manifestos, and 16 17

18 19

Motto in the sixteenth-century alchemical text Turba philosophorum. I thank Adam McLean, Deborah Harkness, Peter Forshaw, and Michael Srigley for discussing this issue with me on McLean’s internet Alchemy Academy. Yates, Rosicrucian Enlightenment. p. 39. Vickers, ‘‘Frances Yates,’’ p. 308n. Cf. Forshaw, ‘‘Early Alchemical Reception.’’

Three phases of inventing Rosicrucian tradition

165

regards it as absurd to argue, as Yates did, that Rosicrucianism should be seen as a kind of ‘‘Exportartikel’’ from Elizabethan England to Germany.20 Yet, from Bureus’ case, and from a handful of other instances of the Monas sign in Rosicrucian texts, one can see that the construction of the Monas was of significance in the Rosicrucian debate. With a spurious Rosicrucian tradition as main mediating element, a symbol originally found in Dee’s obscure oeuvre becomes a rallying point around which generations of alchemists and adherents of other esoteric currents construct their ideas. Although the details of the ensuing development may appear daunting, the general tendency is quite straightforward. Individual innovations gained legitimacy and were able to cross-fertilize each other by means of a shared reference to the symbols and insights of the mysterious fraternity. Ultimately, the invention of Rosicrucianism, and the incorporation of a host of Hermetic and alchemical references in the ensuing literature, influenced a significant section of seventeenth- and eighteenthcentury intellectual culture. Thus the Monas symbol can be found in manuscripts by the Tyrolian Paracelsian Adam Haselmayer, who was the first to make the manifestos known in print in 1611. As Gilly has shown, the sign was in use by alchemists as early as in 1612. In a manuscript of 1616 by Haselmayer, called Novum lumen physico-chemicum, the Monas figures prominently, now topped by a star, and was variously called ‘‘Character cabalisticus’’ or ‘‘Candelabrum Artistarum,’’ or significantly ‘‘Monarchia stellae signatae.’’21 The Monas is discussed as a ‘‘stella hieroglyphica,’’ as Yates points out, in the promise of more secret philosophy published as the Secretioris philosophiae consideratio brevis of Philippus a` Gabella, or Philemon RC, a text accompaning the first publication of the Confessio fraternitatis roseae crucis in 1615.22 There is Rosicrucian reference to Dee in a text by Vaclav Budowec a Budowa in 1616, Circulus horologii lunaris et solaris, reprinted in Siegmund Dullinger’s Speck auf der Fall (1618) and in Christianus Theophilus’ Y Dias mystica ad Monadis simplicitatem (1620).23 However, Gilly points to Haselmayer’s use of the emblem as a sign for Paracelsus’ Signat Stern or for vitriol, rather than by reference to Dee’s text on the Monas.24 As we shall

20 21

22 24

Gilly, Cimelia, pp. 22, 74. Gilly, Adam Haselmayer, pp. 154, 189. The tract was given to the Senator of Genoa, Andrea Grimaldi, and is now found in the form of copies by Antonio di Medici in Florence. Note how the title of his manuscript appears to allude to Sendivogius’ tract mentioned below. Yates, Rosicrucian Enlightenment, pp. 45–7. 23 Gilly, Johann Valentin Andreae, p. 65. Gilly, Cimelia, p. 22.

166

S U S A N N A A˚ K E R M A N

see, however, precisely this information on vitriol shows that Haselmayer had understood the inner alchemical meaning of the Rose Cross. Another, more general significance of the Monas influenced many Rosicrucian writers. One example is the telling album amicorum of Daniel Stolcius (Stoltz von Stoltenberg), the alchemical emblem-maker from Kutna Hora, who had studied medicine at Prague. Here, Johannes Hartman, the medical chemist from Kassel, in 1619 signs in with a quotation from the Rosicrucian Fama: ‘‘sub umbra alarum tuarum Jehova,’’ that is, the biblical formula ‘‘Under the shadow of thy wings, O Lord.’’25 Signaling Stolcius’ Rosicrucian contacts and his travel to England, even Robert Fludd signs in with the sentence ‘‘Experentia veritatis sigillum / Lux e tenebris emergens,’’ ‘‘Experience is the sign of truth / light emerges out of darkness’’; adding the hopeful ‘‘Omnium salvatur,’’ ‘‘All will be saved.’’26 Significantly for the interpretation of the Monas, in 1626 Johannes Villanovanus from Nuremberg contributes to the album with a sign of Mercury and the text: ‘‘Inexploratus, etiamsi omnibus [the new sign] inserviat,’’ ‘‘Unexplored, yet it is dedicated to all.’’ These lines present a new Monas, where Aries is replaced with an arrow (for Sagittarius) and an extra bar cuts through the sun with the signs of Jupiter and Saturn hanging on each end.27 Johannes Matilletus from Geneva contributes another version of the Monas to Stolcius’ album, where Aries is replaced by an arrow (Sagittarius) and the arms of the cross are transformed into Jupiter and Saturn.28 These new versions of the Monas show how the sign for Aries could, by specific observers, be resolved into the two significant planetary signs. The Monas effected a compression of many themes of generative force into a microcosm of the greater world, based on Dee’s design of how letters and planetary signs can be constructed out of an ideal Pythagorean geometry, on a primitive base of point, line, and circle. The Paracelsian Gerard Dorn’s rendering of its core idea is revealing. In his English edition of Aurora thesaurusque philosophorum (Basel, 1577), Paracelsus, His Aurora (London, 1659), Dorn writes: ‘‘When the Quaternary rests in the Ternary, ariseth the light of the world in the Horizon of eternity.’’29 25

26 27 28 29

Ms. Y 132 b, Uppsala Universitetsbibliotek, contributing in 1622 ‘‘In Uno omnia’’ and ‘‘Studio, prece, labor et patientia / sub umbra alarum tuarum Jehova,’’ fo. 53. Ibid., fo. 297. Ibid., fo. 293. Cf. Atlas Rhodostauroticus, who carries the stone and the world in his mind, fo. 377. Ibid., fo. 403. In Theophrast Paracelsi auroram philosophorum thesaurem & mineralem oeconomiam . . . (Frankfurt, 1583). In English, Paracelsus, his Aurora & treasure of the philosophers. As also the waterstone of the wise describing the matter and manner how to attain the universal tincture (London, 1659).

Three phases of inventing Rosicrucian tradition

167

Dorn thus alludes to Dee’s enigmatic statement, ‘‘the Quaternary resting in the Ternary,’’ that Dee has set out as a text around his Monas. Dee took the idea from the geometrical speculation of the Benedictine Abott Johannes Trithemius (1462–1516) to the effect that the ascent of the soul proceeds enigmatically, ‘‘by rectification from the ternary through the binary to unity . . . and by descent from unity to the quaternary resting in the ternary.’’ Bureus, for one, explained this as related to primary principles: the binary, divided in dissension between body and soul, and the ternary (body, spirit, and soul), are through the quaternary (earth, water, air, and fire) reduced to the simplicity of the monad, or union with God.30 Dee, on the other hand, shows by geometry how a cross flows from a single point creating four arms, thus at the crossing point of two lines. Dee joins the cross (and Mercury) to the sign for Aries, the Ram, in itself formed by a conjunction of the shifted signs for Jupiter and Saturn. Taken in this way the Monas speaks of the new entry of the conjunctions into the fiery trigon, marked by the conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn in the celestial sign of Aries in 1583. The ‘‘fiery trigon’’ is the pattern of passage of the planets in the zodiacal signs of Aries in 1583, to that of Sagittarius in December–January of 1603/4, and, significantly, to that of Leo in 1623. The theory of the great conjunctions and their influence had been in use since Abu Mashar’s ninth-century text known in the West as De magnis conjunctionibus, and was applied to the case of Bohemia by Cyprian Leowitz at Prague in 1563. Johannes Kepler calculated the regular triangular pattern of the great conjunctions in 1596, and in his De nova stella in pede Serpentarii (1606) he pointed out that it was the seventh of such passages since creation. He also argued that it was similar to the passage of conjunctions in the trigon ruling at the birth of Christ. Significantly, the Rosicrucian Fama refers to it with the line ‘‘trigono igneo that will give us the last light,’’ which is plain to view once one has grasped Abu Mashar’s theory.31 Dee’s influence on the Rosicrucians thus appears to be profound, since his sign was a compact invention, a new pictorial way of emphasizing the role of alchemy (mercury, sol, and luna) in the new age of the fiery trigon. It was not his obscure theorems that caught on, but the sign itself and what it was taken to stand for. John Dee’s role in enforcing the Rosicrucian 30

31

Josten, ‘‘A Translation.’’ Cf. Shumaker and Heilbronn, John Dee as Astronomer, pp. 200–3. In the Monas, Dee says: ‘‘Ista est via, per quam nostra Monas, per Binarium Ternarumque progrediens, in quaternario Purificatio, sibi Uni restituatur per Aequalitas proportionem.’’ Bureus explicates this in Ms. N 24, fo. 145v. See Lindroth, Paracelcimen, p. 111. A˚kerman, Rose Cross, p. 157. Dee read Leowitz’s prediction in 1564, and, two years earlier in Paris, Dee had presented a now lost tract, Cabbalisticae haebrerorum compendiosa tabella.

168

S U S A N N A A˚ K E R M A N

standpoint thus ought not to be dismissed, even if he was not the mastermind of the movement. Rather, he hit upon a most powerful design as, with his hieroglyph, he brought into focus a celestial theory to which only a few had paid any real attention. FRATRES RORIS COCTI, ISAAC’S BLESSING IN GENESIS, AND ITS CONNECTION WITH THE ZOHAR

The brotherhood that J. V. Andreae wrote of was pure fiction, but, at the same time it illustrated ideas slowly developing in the alchemical community. A third interpretation of the Rose Cross further ties it to John Dee’s philosophy, or rather to a religious tradition on which he drew. This emerges from a seventeenth-century French manuscript in Queen Christina of Sweden’s collection, now in the Vatican, called Veritas Hermetica . . . on the Difference Between Chemistry in Our Time and That Among the Ancients.32 This text deals with the gathering of dew and its processing, and refers to some Fratres Roris Cocti, brothers of boiled dew – an alchemical way of referring to the Rosicrucian fraternity.33 The text explains that a crystalline fluid can be gained from supercelestial water, called maim by the Hebrews34 (as in aesch majim, the fiery water or watery fire seen in the turquoise-blue colours of the sky). The author refers to a speech on May 16, 1639, in an assembly of the Rose-Croix, that explained the importance of dew to these brothers: The true menstruum of the Red Dragon (the true matter of the philosophers) of which this society has wanted to leave to posterity through the characters of its name [FRC], which cannot be effaced by time, is to be understood as brothers of boiled dew [Fratres Roris Cocti] . . . the blessing of Isaac and Jacob did not contain more than two varieties of matter, de Rore caeli et pinguedine terrae.35

32 33

34 35

Ms. Reg. Lat. 1218. Bibliotheca Apostolica Vaticana. Cf. Se´dir, Histoire, pp. 59–60. Se´dir writes that Fratres Roris Cocti would have been mentioned in Pierre Gassendi’s criticism of Robert Fludd, Epistolica exercitatio in qua principia philosophiae Robert Fluddi reteguntur (Paris, 1630). They are not mentioned there explicitely, but Gassendi does talk of aqua sicca, the water that does not wet hands (‘‘Aquam siccam non facientem manus,’’ p. 228), and Fludd’s interpretation of it as Spirithu aetheri or Anima mundi in chapter IX entitled ‘‘Iahacobeo illi lapide.’’ Veritas Hermetica, fo. 36. Ibid., fo. 37. ‘‘La vray menstrue´e de la Dragon Rouge (la veritable matie`re des philosophes) duquel cette societe´ ayant voulu laisse´ a` la posterite´ dans son nom des marques qui ne peuvent eˆtre eface´s par le temps, a retenu celuy des fre`res de la Rose´e cuitte . . . la benediction Isaac et Jacob ne contenu que deux matie`res de Rore caeli et pinguedine terrae.’’

Three phases of inventing Rosicrucian tradition

169

The last phrase is from the formula ‘‘God give thee of the dew of heaven and the fatness of the earth,’’ after Isaac’s blessing of Jacob in Genesis 27:28 and found on the title page of Dee’s Monas hieroglyphica. Dee sets it out with the exhortation: ‘‘Let the water above the heavens fall and the earth will yield its fruit.’’ The Danish alchemist Olaus Borrichius writes on the same idea in his travel journal. In Paris, where he arrived after meeting chemists in England, he notes on April 23, 1664: A certain distinguished Englishman at a meeting where the stone was discussed said about it: F.R.C. does not refer to the fratres Roseae Crucis, but rather Fratres roris cocti, and he further explained that by their sign (which is F.R.þ) that þ signifies LVX by a certain anagram as if they were illuminated by a special light or that they use light or air in their work.36

The method of deriving the anagram LVX from the cross þ is explained in the sixteenth theorem of Dee’s Monas. Borrichius further elucidates this remark when he records how he has heard that From the mouth of some Fr:R:C: Dew (ros) is in nature the most powerful solvent of the Sun. It is not corrosive, but its light ought to be made dense and rendered corporeal, by being artfully boiled in a proper vase for a convenient time, it truly is the menstruum of the red dragon, i. e. of the Sun, i.e. the true philosophical matter, by which F.R.C. shall be understood as Fratres roris cocti. Thus, in Genesis, Jacob’s blessing was but this: De rore caeli et pinguedine terrae det tibi Deus.37

When Borrichius left England and France for Italy and Rome in 1665 he noted that he had often talked with the former queen Christina of Sweden in Rome about the study of chemical arcana and experiments, and that she as a ‘‘Palladio virago’’ dedicated herself entirely to the sacred art.38 She could consult the source directly as she owned both a handwritten German 36

37

38

Shepelern, Borrichii itinerarium. Borrichius notes in Paris (23 April 1664): ‘‘Insignem quendam Anglum in conventum ubi de lapide disputabatur, hic dixisse: F.R.C. non vocandis fratres Roseae Crucis, sed Fratres roris cocti, item illum explicuisse illorum insigne (quod est F.R.þ) quod þ significet lux per anagramma certum, ac si singulari luce essent illuminati, aut quod luce vel aere ad opus suum uterentur,’’ p. 365. Cf. Borrichius in 1664: ‘‘Ex ore cujusdam Fr:R:C: Ros est in rebus natur: potentissimum Solis dissolvens non corrosivum sed lux ejus inspissanda est et reddenda corporalis, quae tum cocta artificiose in proprio vase tempore convenienti, verum est menstruum rubri draconis, i.e. Solis i.e. verae materiae philosophicae, unde F.R.C. intelligendum Fratres roris cocti. Hinc in gen: benedictio Jacobi haec fuit: De rore caeli et pinguedine terrae det tibi Deus.’’ Schepelern, Olai Borrichii itinerarium, p. 336. Borrichius, Conspectus: ‘‘et saepe accersitus ad disserandum cum regina Christinaˆ, de arcanioris Chemiae studio, veritate, experimentis, quibus tum sacris se Palladio virago devorerat.’’ I thank Dr. Michael Srigley of Uppsala for this information.

170

S U S A N N A A˚ K E R M A N

copy of Dee’s Monas hieroglyphica and Trithemius’ angelic cryptography Steganographia.39 It is interesting that an alchemical tract, ‘‘The Mirror of Truth,’’ was dedicated to her by Giovanni Batista Comastri: the Specchio della Verita`: concordanza sopra la filosofia hermetica (Venice, 1683). Comastri writes that the philosophical solvent is found in the air, hinting at the extraction of sal niter, i.e. saltpeter or potassium nitrate (KNO3), from dew in the tradition of the Cosmopolite; that is, from the pathbreaking sal niter theory in Novum lumen chemicum (1608) published by the Polish adept Michael Sendivogius, alias the Cosmopolite. Comastri borrows his phrase, ‘‘There is in air an occult bread of life, the congealed spirit of which is better than all the earth (universa terra).’’40 This chemical vapor or soul pervades all matter, and Sendivogius’ extraction of it has been seen to prefigure the discovery of oxygen.41 The dew that contains this salt is, for Dee, however, more akin to the life-giving substance described by the Jewish kabbalah, just as, in the Zohar (speaking of the same verse in Genesis 27:28 on Isaac’s blessing of Jacob), dew flows ‘‘from the brain of the Ancient of Days’’ and is understood as an erotic psychosexual presence as the supercelestial watery fire flows in. The Polish scholar Rafal Prinke points out that Sendivogius, in addition to Dee, is a major source for the Consideratio brevis of Philippus a` Gabella, which Yates thought so important because it carries on the verso of the title page the crucial phrase ‘‘de rore caeli et pinguedine terrae, det tibi Deus.’’ The pseudonym Gabella may refer to Sendivogius’ Philosophical Letters, which are addressed to ‘‘a newly accepted member of the Society of the Cabala of Unknown Philosophers.’’42 According to Prinke, Sendivogius (d. 1636) passes on the torch handed down from Dee (d. 1609). Prinke even asserts that ‘‘it seems that there was a secret Society of Unknown Philosophers probably founded by Michael Sendivogius and that Sendivogius strongly influenced (or maybe even wrote himself) the Consideratio brevis expounding the philosophy and alchemy behind the original Rosicrucian movement.’’ At present, Prinke concludes, it is not possible to state whether the two societies were one and the same, ‘‘but such a possibility is definitely suggested by the evidence available.’’43 39 40

41

42

Ms. Reg. lat. 1266 and Ms. Reg. lat. 1344, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana. Comastri, Specchio della Verita. Comastri mentions Cosmopolita and ‘‘che e` nell’aria un occulto cibo del vita, lo spirito congelato del quale e` migliore che l’universa terra,’’ p. 63. See Szydlo, Water Which Does Not Wet Hands, pp. 222–36, on how Sendivogius’ mention of Neptune is referred to in a text published in 1691 presenting a sigil shaped as a trident: ‘‘la Hieroglyphe de la Societe´ des Philosophes Inconnus’’; also his ‘‘Michael Sendivogius and the Statuts.’’ Prinke’s comments are in ‘‘Twelfth Adept.’’ Prinke, ‘‘Twelfth Adept,’’ p. 187. 43 Prinke, ‘‘Michael Sendivogius and Christian Rosenkreutz.’’

Three phases of inventing Rosicrucian tradition

171

The texts on the Fratres Roris Cocti saw the collection of dew, and its processing according to the principles behind Isaac’s blessing, as the secret, inner alchemical doctrine of the Rosicrucians. The discussion draws on the ideas of Dee and on Sendivogius’ central niter theory. The source turns out to be one of Theophraste Renaudot’s conferences in Paris, namely his scientific discussion seminar Bureau d’adresse. The conferences were later published, and on May 16, 1639, the assembly spoke of the brothers RoseCroix.44 Fludd is reported to have explained the three letters FRC as F for fide, R for religione, and C for charitate. However, as with the common interpretation of FRC as Fratres Rosae Crucis, Renaudot explains that we cannot be content with this interpretation, as it does not signify a ‘‘grand secret.’’ He continues: ‘‘The cross is truly a part thereof, but in another sense, which is that in this þ the word LVX can be found, and because of this one believes that these brothers in Spain have taken the name Illuminez.’’45 The author explains how, according to him, the R signifies rose´e (dew) and not ‘‘rose’’: The dew (which is the most powerful dissolvent of gold among natural bodies and non-corrosive) is no other than this light dissolved and made corporeal: boiled by the art for a convenient time, in its own vessel, it is the true menstruum of the Red Dragon, that is of gold, the true matter of the philosophers. And this society has wanted to confer on posterity in its name marks that cannot be effaced by time and are to be kept by the brothers of boiled dew.46

Clearly, Renaudot’s text is the source for all later mentions of Fratres Roris Cocti, such as Christina’s text Veritas Hermetica and the comments above by the alchemist Borrichius. The inner alchemy of the Rosicrucians also influenced Christina’s friend the Marquise Palombara to raise a Porta Magica – a magic door – in his garden on the Esquilline Hill in Rome, some time before 1677. The signs on the Porta commemorate the alchemical process and are topped by an emblem taken from Henricus Madathanus’ allegory Aureum seculum redivivum (‘‘The Golden Age Restored’’), pledged to be written by an 44

45

46

Renaudot, Recueil, I V , pp. 53–60, of a ‘‘Conference du Lundi 16e May 1639. N814. CENT LXXXIX,’’ entitled ‘‘Des Fre`res de la Rose-Croix.’’ ‘‘La croix est veritablement de la partie, mais en un autre sens; qui est que Dans cette þ le mot LVX se trouve, d’ou` l’on croid que ces fre`res ont pris en Espagne le mot d’Illuminez.’’ ‘‘La rose´e (qui est le plus puissant dissolvant de l’or entre les corps naturels & non corrosifs) n’est autre chose que cette lumie`re espoissie & rendue¨ corporelle: laquelle estant cu¨ite et digere´e artistement par un temps convenable, en son propre vaisseau, est la vraie menstrue¨ du dragon roux; c’est a` dire de l’or, veritable matie`re des Philosophes. Duquel cette societe´ ayant voulu laisser a` la posterite´ dans son nom les marques qui ne peussent estre efface´es par le temps, a retenu celui des fre`res de la Roze´e cu¨ite.’’

172

S U S A N N A A˚ K E R M A N

aureae crucis frater – a brother of the golden cross.47 In his alchemical manuscript La Bugia (‘‘The Little Candlestick’’), from 1656, Palombara even briefly mentions that he has heard of an Order of the Golden and Rosy Cross.48 Sendivogius’ theory on sal niter is clearly indicated on a now lost plate in Palombara’s garden in the vicinity of the Porta Magica. It began: H O C I N R U R E . C AE L I R O R E . F U S I S AE Q U I S . P HY S I S A Q UI S . S O LU M 49 F R A C T U M R E D D I T F R UC T UM . DU M C UM S AL E N I T R I . A C S O L E . . . (‘‘In this rural area, through the dew of heaven, through an equal flow, through natural water, only crushed the fruit returns, if only with sal niter and the Sun . . .’’). The Porta Magica has signs for the alchemical process inspired by the Monas, seen most clearly in the sign for vitriol accompanied by the text E S T O P U S O C C UL T U M V E R I S O P HI A P E R I R E T E R R A M U T G E R M I N E T S A L UT E M

(‘‘It is the occult work of the truly wise to open the earth to grow salvation for the people’’). The sign is Lunar Mercury, with a cross transformed on its ends into Jupiter and Saturn and topped with an arrow for Sagittarius, as in the great conjunction in Sagittarius of December/ January 1603/4, the year of the reopening of Christian Rosenkreutz’s grave. Incidently, it is also the year of the first edition in Prague of Sendivogius’ tract on sal niter under its original name De lapidem philosophorum, tractatus duodecim – no wonder, when Dee says in his twelfth theorem that Lunar Mercury, Jupiter, Saturn, and the moon are the ‘‘geogamic’’ or conjunctive signs, after gamos, Greek for ‘‘wedding.’’ Palombara’s focus on Sendivogius’ gathering of dew is significant. In 1691 a French text, Les Oeuvres du Cosmopolite . . . , was printed that showed that Sendivogius had introduced Neptune, the god of the sea, when designing a sign and seal for a secret alchemical society of unknown philosophers: ‘‘la Hieroglyphe de la Societe´ des Philosophes Inconnus,’’ a stylized trident.50 Five years earlier, Barent Coenders van Helpen had anonymously published a similar tacit reference to Sendivogius in his Escalier des Sages (Groningen, 1686), illustrated by Hermes and the three brothers Jupiter, Hades, and Neptune. The trident of the river god is visible among them. To the picture is added the text P R O P O P UL O

47

48

49 50

Illustrations in Susanna A˚kerman, ‘‘Queen Christina of Sweden, the Porta Magica and the Italian Poets of the Golden and Rosy Cross,’’ on Adam McLean’s Alchemical Virtual Library: ‘‘Un compagnia intitolata della rosea croce o come altro dicono dell’aurea croce,’’ Gabriele, Il giardino di Hermes, p. 90. For Christina’s version, see Palombara, La Bugia. Gabriele, Il giardino, p. 21. Szydlo, ‘‘Michael Sendivogius and the Statuts.’’ Cf. Prinke, ‘‘Twelfth Adept,’’ pp. 188–9, and his ‘‘Michael Sendivogius and Christian Rosencreutz.’’

Three phases of inventing Rosicrucian tradition

173

‘‘Ars Laboriosa Convertens Humiditate Ignea Metalla In Aurum (ALCHIMIA) (‘‘The laborious art converts through fiery humidity metals into gold’’).51 Prinke argues that the Society of Unknown Philosophers used the trident as their symbol and mark and was parallel to or identical with the Rosicrucians, now in a second generation. Thus it should not surprise us that Haselmayer uses the Monas topped by a star for vitriol in his manuscript presented in Italy in 1616 as Novum lumen physico-chemicum. Clearly, Haselmayer’s choice of title is a reference to Sendivogius’ notorious text on sal niter, Novum lumen chemicum. The sal niter theory is, as we have seen, further attached to the first edition of the Rosicrucian Confessio fraternitatis RC as it was bound with Philippus a Gabella’s Consideratio brevis, on more secret philosophy. Finally, in 1623, Haselmayer’s Character Cabalisticus was published with a Monas topped, as we now can see on the cover of Gilly’s book, by a circle with a vertical diagonal for saltpeter or niter, and above that a trident.52 In 1701, a book, Rares experiences sur l’Esprit Mineral,53 was published and later attributed to a Mr. Respour, who can be identified as the alchemist Daniel Schwanter, known for his use of zinc in the alchemical process. His book revealed too much, however, and nearly the whole edition was bought and burned ‘‘by the philosophers and by le Duc D’Orleans.’’54 They did not want to spread the mysteries of alchemy as openly as done here. In the index, Respour refers to the hieroglyph of the Rosicrucians and explains that when sal niter and vitriol is heated and cooled down a crystal is formed: ‘‘this redness surrounded by admirable greenery is reminiscent of the rose surrounded by its leaves and thorns.’’ He goes on to comment on the green fat oil (pinguedine): ‘‘this rose . . . is the symbol and hieroglyph of the company of the rosicrucians, its oil is more precious than all oils of the world.’’55

51 52

53

54

55

Lennep, Alchimie, pp. 237ff. Liberius Benedictus, Nucleus sophicus seu Explanatio in tincturam physicorum Theophrasti Paracelsi (Frankfurt: Lucas Jennis, 1623), p. 62. Reproduced in Gilly, Adam Haselmayer, p. 18. The earliest edition is P. M. de Respour, Rares experiences sur l’esprit mineral, pour la preparation et transmutation des corps metaliques. Ou` est enseigne´ la maniere de faire les Agens necessaires, qui ont este´ jusques aujourd’huy inconnus & cachez au Public . . . (Paris, 1668). Preface to I :123a of Gustaf Bonde’s manuscript copy of Respour, Rares experiences, Sa¨fstaholmsamlingen, Riksarkivet, Stockholm. Gustav Bonde’s manuscript of Respour, Rares experiences, fos. 45, 72–3, in Sa¨fstaholmsamlingen ´e d’un admirable verdeur ressemble a` la rose envirrone´e de ses feuilles I :123a: ‘‘cette rougeur envirrone et de ces epines . . . // . . . cette rose . . . est le simbole et hieroglyphe de la compagnons des rosecroits, l’huile est plus precieuse que toutes les huiles du monde.’’

174

S U S A N N A A˚ K E R M A N

Thus the vitriolic niter crystallizes as a rose surrounded by green leaves, a salt that makes volatile all fixed elements and fixes all volatile elements.56 The rose of Respour’s process is described in many other alchemical texts as a crystallized vitriolic star and is often called the ‘‘star regulus.’’ A paragraph of Sendivogius’ Novum lumen chemicum reads: There is no rose found without thorns . . . As the central sun has its sea and crude perceptible water, so the celestial sun has its sea of subtle and imperceptible water (the atmosphere). On the surface of the earth the two kinds of rays meet and produce flowers and all things. Then rain receives its vital force out of the air, and unites it to that of the saltpetre of the earth. For the saltpetre of the earth is like calcined tartar, and by its dryness, attracts air to itself – which air it dissolves into water. For this saltpetre itself was once air, and has become joined to the fatness of the earth. The more abundantly the rays of the sun descend, the greater is the quantity of saltpetre generated, and so also is the harvest on earth increased. All this does experience daily teach. . .57

Echoes of Sendivogius’ text are found in Philippus a` Gabella’s reasoning that When our Mercury is joined with either magnesia or lunaria it is more correctly known as ‘‘aqua sicca’’ (dry water). This does not wet the hands and when placed near a fire it flees like a runaway slave . . . At times it appears in the form of dew, at times like heavenly rain, sometimes even like snow, hail, hoar frost or a cloud, as if it were dressed in a cloak. This transformation can be seen everywhere: however it comes about, whether in metals, animals or vegetable matter, it is essential for the appearance of the mercury so that the work can be brought to a conclusion.58

The art of treating dew as a ‘‘spiritual fertilizer’’ was often held as established after 1639 and as the inner meaning of Rosicrucianism. This view of the experiments with dew appears to have been fully formed first after the critical debate on Robert Fludd’s Spiritus mundi in Paris. However, the Old Testament theory of celestial water and its influx has a long esoteric history that needs to be further examined. Frances Yates pointed out that the focus on dew also is displayed in the Christian kabbalist text by Francesco Giorgi, De harmonia mundi (Venice, 1525). Yet Isaac’s blessing of Jacob is mentioned there only in passing. The quickening effects of dew, however, also underlie a work by the Christian kabbalist Paulus Riccius, De caelesti agricultura (‘‘On Celestial Agriculture,’’ 1514). Alchemical work with dew was little known in eighteenth-century Freemasonic culture, but some of the symbolism was published in the 56

57 58

Ibid., fo. 45. Also Respour, Rares experiences, Ms. I :123c, fos. 72–3; ‘‘La matie`re paroit comme une Rose, envirrone´e des feuilles vertes, a` cause de quoi ils l’ont nomme´ Rose.’’ On Adam McLean’s site at (italics added). Translation by Christopher Atton on McLean’s site, .

Three phases of inventing Rosicrucian tradition

175

anonymous work Geheime Figuren der Rosencreutzer (Altona, 1785–88), which circulated in the Gold- und Rosencreutz Orden, an alchemical order that recent research has shown was founded in Naples in 1678.59 The order was first made public in print in Breslau in 1710, by the Silesian pietist and alchemist Sincerus Renatus (Samuel Richter).60 Since 1750, a host of Rosicrucian allusions have come forward, for instance in the various Masonic degrees of the ‘‘Chevalier de Rose-Croix.’’ Many non-Masonic Rosicrucian societies emerged in the occult revival in Paris and London after 1850, but for these I refer the reader to recent research by others.61 REFERENCES

A˚kerman, Susanna, Rose Cross Over the Baltic: The Spread of Rosicrucianism in Northern Europe (Leiden: Brill, 1998). Borrichius, Olaus, Conspectus scriptorum chemicorum illustrorum: cui praefixa historia vitae ipsius ipso conscripta (Havniae, 1697). Churton, Tobias, The Golden Builders: Alchemists, Rosicrucians and the First Free Masons (Lichfield: Signal Publishing, 2002). Comastri, Giovanni Batista, Specchio della Verita` – dedicata alla Regina Cristina di Svezia, Venezia 1683. A cura di Anna Maria Partini (Rome: Edizione Mediterranee, 1989). Edighoffer, Roland, ‘‘Rosicrucianism I,’’ in Wouter Hanegraaff (ed.), Dictionary of Gnosis and Western Esotericism (Leiden: Brill, 2005), pp. 1009–14. Forshaw, Peter, ‘‘The Early Alchemical Reception of John Dee’s Monas Hieroglyphica,’’ Ambix 52 (November 2005), pp. 247–69. Gabriele, Mino, Il giardino di Hermes: Massimiliano Palombara alchimista e rosacroce nella Roma del Seicento (con la prima edizione del codice autografo della Bugia – 1656) (Rome: Editrice Ianua, 1986). Gilly, Carlos, Adam Haselmayer: Der erste Verku¨nder der Manifeste der Rosenkreuzer (Amsterdam: In de Pelikaan, 1994). Cimelia Rhodostaurotica: Die Rosenkreutzer im Spiegel der zwischen 1610 und 1660 enstandenen Handschrifte und Drucke (Amsterdam: In de Pelikaan, 1995). Johann Valentin Andreae 1586–1986: Die Manifeste der Rosencreutzerbru¨derschaft (Amsterdam: Katalog einer Ausstellung in der Bibliotheca Philosophica Hermetica, 1986). (ed.), Rosenkreutz als europa¨isches Pha¨nomen im 17. Jahrhundert (Amsterdam: In de Pelikaan, 2002).

59 60

61

Gilly and van Heertum, Magic, Alchemy. S[incerus] R[enatus], Die wahrhaffte und volkommene Bereitung des philosophischen Steins der Bru¨derschafft aus dem Orden des Gu¨lden und Rosen-Creutzes (Breslau, 1710). See McIntosh, Rose Cross and the Age of Reason; Vanloo, L’Utopie Rose-Croix.

176

S U S A N N A A˚ K E R M A N

Gilly, Carlos, and Cis van Heertum, Magic, Alchemy and Science in the 15th–18th Centuries: The Influence of Hermes Trismegistos (Amsterdam and Venice: Centro Di, Bibliotheca Philosophica Hermetica, 2002). Josten, C. H., ‘‘A Translation of John Dee’s Monas Hieroglyphica (Antwerp, 1564) with an Inroduction and Annotations,’’ Ambix 12 (1964), pp. 84–221. Klemming, G. E., ‘‘Anteckningar av Johannes Thomae Agrivillensis Bureus,’’ Samlaren 4 (1883), pp. 12–43, 71–126. Lennep, Jaques van, Alchimie: Contribution a` l’histoire de l’art alchimique (Brussels, 1985). Lindroth, Sten, Paracelsimen i Sverige intill 1600–talets mitt (Upsala: Lychnos bibliotek, 1943). McIntosh, Christopher, The Rose Cross and the Age of Reason (Leiden: Brill, 1992). Naude´, Gabriel, Instruction a` la France sur la verite´ de l’histoire des Fre`res de la RozeCroix (Paris, 1623). Palombara, Marchese Massimiliano, La Bugia: Rime ermetiche e altri scritti: Da un Codice Reginense del sec. XVII ed. Anna Maria Partini (Rome: Edizione Mediterranee, 1983). Prinke, Rafal, ‘‘Michael Sendivogius and Christian Rosencreutz: The Unexpected Possibilities,’’ Hermetic Journal (1990), pp. 72–98. Available on Adam McLean’s website, . ‘‘The Twelfth adept: Michael Sendivogius in Rudolfine Prague,’’ in John Mathews (ed.), The Rosicrucian Enlightenment Revisited (Hudson, NY: Lindisfarne Books, 1999). Renaudot, Euse`be, Recueil General des questions traicte´es ´es confe´rences du Bureau d’Adresse . . . (Paris, 1654). Schepelern, H. D. (ed.), Olai Borrichii itinerarium 1660–1665: The Journal of the Danish Polyhistor Ole Borch (Leiden: Brill, 1983). Se´dir, Paul, Histoire et doctrines des Rose-Croix (Bihorel-les-Rouen: Editorial Amitie´s Spirituelles, 1932). Shumaker, Wayne, and J. L. Heilbronn, John Dee as Astronomer: Propedeumata aphoristica (1558 and 1568) (Berkeley and Los Angeles: California University Press, 1978). Szydlo, Zbigniew, ‘‘Michael Sendivogius and Christian Rosenkreutz: The Unexpected Possibilities,’’ Hermetic Journal (1990), pp. 72–98, available at , reproducing the Trident of unknown Philosophers. ‘‘Michael Sendivogius and the Statuts des Philosophes Inconnus,’’ Hermetic Journal (1992), pp. 79–91. Water Which Does Not Wet Hands: The Alchemy of Michael Sendivogius (London and Warsaw: Polish Academy of Sciences, 1994). Vanloo, Robert, L’utopie Rose-Croix de xviie sie`cle a` nos jours (Paris: Dervy, 2001). Vickers, Brian, ‘‘Frances Yates and the Writing of History,’’ Journal of Modern History (June 1975), pp. 287–316. Yates, Frances, The Rosicrucian Enlightenment (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1972).

CHAPTER

9

A name for all and no one: Zoroaster as a figure of authorization and a screen of ascription Michael Stausberg

Commonly held to be one of the so-called founders of religion which make up ‘‘the foremost type of religious authority,’’ Zoroaster (¼ Zarathustra) belongs to the list of ‘‘sacred names’’ that stand ‘‘for a unique experience and . . . an uninterchangeable symbol of human faith and hope’’ – as Joachim Wach puts it in a classical study.1 As is the case with other ‘‘founders,’’ ancient and modern, the authority ascribed to Zoroaster is intimately linked to a textual corpus embodying what believers regard as divine revelation. This chapter will contextualize the problem of textual ascriptions and the related inventions of sacred traditions with respect to two different yet interrelated historical lines of development. The first part will briefly discuss the problem of textual ascription with regard to the construction of Zoroastrianism as a chain of transmission (from the divine to the community of believers). Besides Zoroaster, two of his associates are relevant for this process. A spurious text is attributed to one of them in later Iranian Zoroastrian literature, while fragments have been ascribed to the other one outside the Zoroastrian tradition, that is, in the West, since the second century C E . In the course of the development of Zoroastrianism as a religious ‘‘system,’’ the foundational act of divine revelation came to be conceptualized as a verbal exchange (‘‘dialogue’’) in which Zoroaster is the colorless, shadowy receiver and transmitter of the divine ‘‘revelation discourse’’ spoken by the god Ahura Mazda¯. The idea that the revelatory discourse is to be identified with a literary corpus, namely a scripture in the form of a book, is a much later development in Zoroastrianism. Even later premodern sources do not claim that Zoroaster actually wrote down this ‘‘book.’’ Accordingly, premodern Zoroastrianism constructed the figure of Zoroaster as a receiver of divine revelations without ever attributing literary texts to him. Modern Western scholarship, however, did. While modern Western scholarship may well be informed by a critical or I wish to thank my colleague Einar Thomassen for comments on a draft of this chapter. Wach, Sociology of Religion, p. 341.

1

177

178

MICHAEL STAUSBERG

at least agnostic stance to indigenous constructions of tradition and the attribution of texts, in its own way of ‘‘writing religion’’ the academic study of religion actively constructs sacred traditions. In my view, the study of Zoroastrianism is an example of modern scholarship actually producing a pseudepigraph. Here as elsewhere, scholarship made an impact on its ‘‘object,’’ that is, (modern) Zoroastrianism.2 The second part of this chapter moves beyond the frame of the Zoroastrian traditions and presents an early example of the process that the editors of this volume also observe among ‘‘newer religious movements originating in Western Europe or North America,’’ namely the finding of the venerable past in other parts of the globe and the spurious attribution of new scriptures to ‘‘other’’ (esoteric or ancient) geographies.3 Ever since the Hellenistic age, in the West (seen from the perspective of the Iranian plateau) the ‘‘sacred name’’ of Zoroaster (and one of his associates) was taken to authorize different sorts of ‘‘alien wisdom.’’ Zoroaster is an important example of this otherwise well-studied phenomenon,4 and the texts ascribed to him belong to a greater repertoire of literary fakes.5 We will briefly look at some texts illustrating the range of ascribed materials and identify one charge of plagiarism and one instance of religious polemics leading to the emergence of a skeptical voice. In the case of astrology, the history of (mis)attributions continued not only in later Western European history but also in the Islamic Middle East. In the West, the movement generally referred to as ‘‘the Renaissance’’ led to a renewed interest in Zoroaster.6 Friedrich Nietzsche’s Thus Spoke Zarathustra is probably the best-known writing credited to Zoroaster. All this is a long history stretching over vast territories in terms of space and time, of which the present chapter can only discuss a tiny portion. After a short survey of relevant developments in Zoroastrianism, I will proceed briefly to discuss selected texts and books that were ascribed to Zoroaster from Hellenistic times to the Middle Ages. Let us begin our cross-cultural itinerary where it all started. THE INVENTION/CONSTRUCTION OF AUTHORITY: IRANIAN PERSPECTIVES

Most of the (premodern) Zoroastrian texts recounting the history of the ‘‘good religion’’ draw a complex picture of continuity and change. It is 2 3 5

On modern Zoroastrianism see Stausberg, Die Religion, I I . See the Introduction to the present volume. 4 See Momigliano, Alien Wisdom. See Speyer, Die literarische Fa¨lschung. 6 See Stausberg, Faszination.

A name for all and no one

179

generally held that the religion existed from the beginning of creation to some extent. In a way, then, Zoroaster did not reveal anything particularly new. On the other hand, the texts create the impression that it is only with Zoroaster that the religion was revealed and received in its totality, that Zoroaster created the necessary genealogical link between the first man and the eschatological heroes, and that it was with the ‘‘acceptance’’ of the religion on the part of a powerful patron (‘‘king’’) by the name of Visˇta¯spa that the religion was eventually transmitted further. In terms of a chronology of the sources, the pairing of Zoroaster and Visˇta¯spa makes its first appearance in a set of hymns known as the Ga¯tha¯s. These 240 stanzas of ritual poetry composed some time before the middle of the first millennium BC E – attempts at specifying their precise date and location of origin are a matter of ongoing scholarly dispute – are universally regarded as the founding textual monument of Zoroastrianism. Since this text is almost obsessed with a threat against the community and cosmic order by human and superhuman opponents, it was generally assumed that the Ga¯tha¯s testify to the emergence of the religion against the bitter resistance of a hostile environment. The Ga¯tha¯s and the modern ascription of foundational authorship The Ga¯tha¯s are reckoned to be part of the Avesta, commonly referred to as the ‘‘sacred scripture of Zoroastrianism.’’ The name ‘‘Avesta’’ refers to an assembly of texts in an ancient Iranian language (Avestan) that were put into writing only many centuries, if not more than a millennium, after they were composed.7 Different sets of Avestan texts are recited in different ceremonial contexts. The designations of some major parts of the Avesta are identical with the names of the rituals in which priests recite the respective text. The Yasna, for example, designates a major priestly liturgy as well as the text recited in the course of the ritual. The Ga¯tha¯s, in turn, are a central part of the Yasna. On linguistic grounds, nineteenth-century Western philologists identified the Ga¯tha¯s as containing materials older than the other Avestan texts. While the implications of the linguistic differences between the Ga¯tha¯s and most other Avestan texts to a certain extent remain a matter of dispute, internal evidence shows that the remaining (and possibly later) Avestan texts ascribed a special status to the Ga¯tha¯s (and some other pieces): the five Ga¯tha¯s are worshiped (Y. [¼ Yasna] 71:6), and they are proclaimed to be ‘‘entrusting,’’ 7

A special alphabet was designed for that purpose, probably in the sixth century C E ; see Kellens, La Quatrie`me naissance, p. 25.

180

MICHAEL STAUSBERG

‘‘protective,’’ a ‘‘mental nourishment,’’ an ‘‘attire for the soul,’’ and ‘‘giving way for a great remuneration in the other world’’ (Y. 55:2). One passage mentions that the divine being Sraosˇa was the first who (in the appropriate fashion) recited the Ga¯tha¯s, ‘‘the five of Spita¯ma Zarahusˇtra, the Asˇa-executing’’ (Y. 57:8). Zoroaster (Zarahusˇtra in Avestan) is here in a very special way affiliated to the Ga¯tha¯s, but regarding this as affirming Zoroaster’s authorship of the Ga¯tha¯s seems like an over-interpretation.8 As a matter of fact, no premodern Zoroastrian ever put forward the claim that Zoroaster was the author of the Ga¯tha¯s. Therefore, the attempt made by modern scholars to establish Zoroaster as the author of the Ga¯tha¯s – an attribution that is simply taken for granted and considered a ‘‘fact’’ by most scholars – moves far beyond the (theo)logical framework of Zoroastrian doctrine.9 This ascription cannot be proved from the text itself (i.e. text-immanently).10 In principle, of course, there is nothing wrong with that. In this case, however, the suspicion arises that the ‘‘discovery’’ of Zoroaster’s authorship of the Ga¯tha¯s is heavily informed by Western preconceptions of (1) the nature of literary texts (after all, ‘‘authentic’’ texts require an author) and (2) the logic of historical innovation (after all, cultural inventions tend to be produced by single individuals).11 However, in the case of the Ga¯tha¯s the category of authorship must probably be considered both speculative and meaningless from a historical point of view.12 The Ga¯tha¯s can therefore well be regarded as being falsely attributed to a reputed figure by modern scholarship. This case, then, is very different from, and almost the reverse of, those in which the authorship of texts regarded as sacrosanct by certain religious traditions has been denied by modern Western scholarship. Be that as it may, the misattribution was eagerly adopted by modern Zoroastrians, who would thereby be provided with a prophet-cum-author, a construct guaranteeing the authenticity of the faith ab initio.13 8

See Panaino, Rite, parole et pense´e, p. 61. The verse in question was regarded as an important piece of evidence for first ascribing the Ga¯tha¯s to Zoroaster (in 1862) by Haug, Essays, p. 257. 9 See Panaino, Rite, parole et pense´e, p. 103, with the clarifying distinction that the Ga¯tha¯s are placed under the authority (rather than the literary paternity) of Zoroaster, who made the divine formulas available for his group. 10 There is no doubt that Zoroaster is the key human figure in the group of persons populating the textual universe of the Ga¯tha¯s. His name has a central position in the poetic composition of the Ga¯tha¯s and he may even occur as the poetic ‘‘I’’ in the text; see Hintze, ‘‘On the Literary Structure.’’ But all that does not logically imply that Zoroaster was the author of these texts. 11 Occasionally, this argument has been turned the other way round: had Zoroaster not been an ‘‘original thinker,’’ his name would have become all but forgotten; see Asmussen, ‘‘Die Verku¨ndigung,’’ p. 22. 12 The meaninglessness of the question of authorship has been emphasized by Kellens, Essays, p. 87. 13 For the importance of that position in legitimating the authenticity of the faith in the light of outside critique (advanced by Christian missionaries), see Stausberg, ‘‘John Wilson.’’

A name for all and no one

181

Interestingly, this process of ascription has been uncritically reinforced and even extended in the history of scholarship. Martin Haug, who in the 1850s and 1860s invented the ascription of the Ga¯tha¯s to Zoroaster, was initially reluctant to ascribe the entire text to Zoroaster.14 Later, several leading scholars of Zoroastrianism around the year 1900 had left the question of the authorship of the Ga¯tha¯s more or less open.15 It was only in the course of twentieth-century scholarship that Zoroaster’s presumed authorship of the Ga¯tha¯s came to assume an almost dogmatic status both in Western scholarship and among Zoroastrians. What is more, in recent scholarship there are some speculative attempts to ascribe also the Yasna Haptaˆha¯iti, seven chapters that are framed by the Ga¯tha¯s in the textual arrangement of the Avestan Yasna, to Zoroaster.16 Even in this case, there clearly is a process at work in which the formation of scholarly hypotheses is bypassed in order to achieve a more consistent textual Ur-corpus for the foundational history of Zoroastrianism. Even though the ascription of authorship seems to be a modern misattribution, Zoroaster is nevertheless the key individual in the religio-ritual textual space of the Ga¯tha¯s. Zoroaster is of crucial indexical importance for the process of ritual communication that occurs through him, the priestlypoetic-visionary intermediary of Ahura Mazda¯, the only one who would listen to his instructions, the depository and charioteer (in a poetical competition) of the powerful divine formulas, the successfully installed poet-sacrificer, rivaling and condemning other poets while praising the divinities.17 Zoroaster as the receiver of divine instruction In the remaining, probably more recent, parts of the Avesta the figure of Zoroaster is cast in a much more schematic and functional fashion.18 Among the ideological roles that this name plays in these texts is that of the divine interlocutor: He is the one who asks questions of the god Ahura 14

15 16

17

18

See Haug, Die fu¨nf Gaˆthaˆ’s (1858), where he ascribes only some selected passages of the Ga¯tha¯s to Zoroaster, while holding that the remaining parts were written by his successors and possibly even by his predecessors. In his later Essays (1862) a slightly less differentiated picture emerges. See Hultga˚rd, ‘‘Study of the Avesta,’’ p. 83. See Boyce, Zoroastrianism, p. 88 (who finds that Zoroaster’s authorship of the text ‘‘can seem selfevident’’ – but only to the believer, it may seem); Hintze, ‘‘On the Literary Structure.’’ On these aspects (all of which would merit further discussion) see Kellens, Essays, pp. 83–94; Panaino, Rite, parole et pense´e, pp. 95–105; Hintze, ‘‘‘Do ut des’’’; Skjærvø, ‘‘Rivals and Bad Poets’’; ‘‘Praise and Blame’’; ‘‘Zarathustra.’’ For this and the following see Stausberg, Die Religion, I , pp. 31–40; Skjærvø, ‘‘Zarathustra,’’ pp. 161–7.

182

MICHAEL STAUSBERG

Mazda¯, who provides extensive answers; or, when Zoroaster does not enquire, he is the addressee of Ahura Mazda¯’s speeches of instruction, that is, the god’s verbal epiphany, occasionally taking the form of a vocative (‘‘O Zarahusˇtra!’’). This act of verbal epiphany/revelation is then continued, celebrated, and commemorated in the employment of the texts in the corresponding rituals. This genre of revelatory dialogue is continued in the Middle Persian (Pahlavi) literature. In Middle Persian we even find a technical term for this form of ‘‘consultation’’: ham-pursag¯ıh.19 Zoroaster’s encounters and dialogues with Ahura Mazda¯ and the Beneficent Immortals are a fixed part of the biographical accounts provided by several Middle Persian texts. Moreover, there are some texts according to which Ahura Mazda¯ (Middle Persian: Ohrmazd) granted the gift of omniscience to Zoroaster.20 Despite the revelatory knowledge obtained by Zoroaster in this manner, Zoroastrian writers did not ascribe spurious texts to him. Ja¯ma¯sp and Visˇta¯sp No such restrictions, however, seemed to apply to two closely related personae, namely Zoroaster’s patron (‘‘king’’) Visˇta¯sp and the latter’s associate (‘‘minister’’) Ja¯ma¯sp. Like Zoroaster, both are marked out as media for the transfer of divine and divinatory knowledge. There is a late text (in Pahlavi and Pa¯rsi) containing Ja¯ma¯sp’s replies to Visˇta¯sp’s question as to the future of the ‘‘pure religion,’’ Zoroastrianism. This text, which is obviously cast in illo tempore of the beginnings of the religion, is referred to as the Ja¯ma¯sp Na¯mag (The Book of Ja¯ma¯sp) and by modern editors is generally associated with, and incorporated in, other materials that are assembled under the title Aya¯dga¯r ¯ı Ja¯ma¯sp¯ıg (The Memorial of Ja¯ma¯sp). This text is the sole example of a misattributed text, a literary fake or pseudepigraph, in ancient Zoroastrian literature. Visˇta¯sp, on the other hand, is nowhere in the Zoroastrian texts credited with the gift of omniscience. At one place, however, The Memorial of Ja¯ma¯sp (13:8) casually remarks that Visˇta¯sp’s soul at one time had been in highest heaven ( garo¯dma¯n). This can be taken to imply that he had obtained special knowledge by undertaking an ecstatic-visionary journey21 as a sort of cognitive displacement. Moreover, there is a text bearing the title Visˇta¯sp

19 21

See Hultga˚rd, ‘‘Forms and Origins,’’ pp. 395–8. See Hultga˚rd, ‘‘Forms and Origins,’’ pp. 404–5.

20

See Hultga˚rd, ‘‘Mythe et histoire,’’ pp. 130–49.

A name for all and no one

183

Yasˇt (Visˇta¯spa Hymn) which contains a series of instructions about the religion, addressed by Zoroaster to his patron, who occasionally also poses a question to Zoroaster. These texts consistently cast Visˇta¯sp in the role of the recipient of the religion without any revelatory power of his own. Under his Greek name Hystaspes, the fame of Visˇta¯sp as a revelatory medium even spread outside Iran. It seems that certain fragments that were (obviously mistakenly) ascribed to Hystaspes circulated in the West,22 and some Christian authors – including Justin Martyr (d. 165 C E ), Clement of Alexandria (d. before 215/21 C E ), and Lactantius (d. c. 320–5 C E ) – employed them for apologetic purposes. While Justin and Clement actually mention books that went under the name of Hystapes, Lactantius introduces Hystaspes as a ‘‘very ancient king of the Medes’’ who, living long before the founding of the Trojan nation, had a remarkable dream that was handed down to posterity in the form of an interpretation by a prophesying boy (Divine Institutes V I I .15.19).23 Note that Hystaspes is here reported to be a second-degree authority, since his original dream is transmitted and made intelligible only by the interpretation of the prophesying boy. This implies the combination of several revelatory media and two types of mediator: the dream of the reputed ancient king living in illo tempore, and the special visionary hermeneutics of the timeless, ageless, and nameless boy. Hystaspes here emerges as the ultimate source (and not as the author!) of the prophecies, for which Lactantius accordingly does not transmit any title. The scripturalization of the tradition and Zoroaster as the bringer of the book For many centuries, if not more than a millennium, the Avestan texts were transmitted in an exclusively oral manner.24 Zoroastrians maintained that policy even after a variety of scripts had long since been available in Iran. Several Manichean and Christian sources suggest that books were unknown in Zoroastrian circles, or at least that they did not appreciate 22

23

24

The witnesses are compiled by Bidez and Cumont, Les Mages, I I , pp. 359–76 (eighteen fragments, few of which are explicitly attributed to Hystaspes). It is only in the Theosophy of an unknown Christian writer (possibly Severos, the former patriarch of Antioch, who died in 538), that the title Oracles of Hystaspes (Xqg! rei| ’ Yrsa! |pot), which is current in modern scholarship, is actually being used. Modern scholars have sought to identify this boy variously as Zoroaster (Boyce) or Ja¯ma¯spa (Hultga˚rd). The exception confirming the rule stems from Lydia, where, according to Pausanias, Persian priests were using books in their rituals; that, however, may be explained by the exigencies of the diasporic situation; see Stausberg, ‘‘Invention,’’ pp. 258–9.

184

MICHAEL STAUSBERG

them to the same extent that their rivals did.25 While a Middle Persian text belonging to a courtly context reports a positive evaluation of scribeship (perfectly understandable in that cultural context), priestly texts maintained a reserved attitude toward writing: the mythic origin of writing goes back to the Foul Spirit,26 and according to one priestly text (D¯enkard V) the reliability of written documents pales in comparison to the advantages of oral transmission. Interestingly, this is stated in reply to the (supposed) questions of a Christian who had enquired why the Avesta had not been committed to writing. Nevertheless, the Avestan texts were eventually written down. As already mentioned, the special status of the texts was stressed by inventing a special alphabet for this very purpose. Correspondingly, one finds several Middle Persian texts reporting on the writing down of the scriptures.27 One singular case is contained in a rather late (eighth- or ninth-century) treatise describing the provincial capitals of Iran. When presenting the city of Samarqand, it mentions that after Zoroaster had brought the religion, on the order of king Visˇta¯sp 1,200 chapters ‘‘in the script of religious scripture were engraved on golden tablets and written and deposited in the treasury of that fire(-temple). And then the accursed Alexander burnt and threw it into the sea’’ (Sˇahresta¯n¯ıh ¯ı E¯ra¯nsˇahr x 4–5).28 The act of destroying the Ur-book is mentioned in several Middle Persian texts originating in priestly circles.29 If they mention the act of writing down the revelation at all, these sources credit it to Visˇta¯spa or king Darius III. In one place, the oral reports of Ja¯ma¯sp are given as the point of reference. However, these sources are mainly interested in the subsequent disruption and later recompilation of the religious traditions. Contrary to earlier Manichean and Christian texts, Muslim authors take the existence of Zoroastrian scriptures for granted. In the late pre-Islamic (Sa¯sa¯nian) and early Islamic periods, Zoroastrianism had apparently undergone a partial transformation into a scriptural religion. This also entailed a metamorphosis of the role of Zoroaster. The Zara¯tosˇt-na¯me (Zoroasterbook), a biography of Zoroaster that was written in Persian several centuries after the Islamic conquest of Iran, illustrates that development: here, Zoroaster presents himself to king Visˇta¯spa as the prophet (rasul ) bringing 25 26 27

28 29

For references see Stausberg, ‘‘Invention,’’ pp. 260–1. On these myths and their background and context see Hutter, ‘‘Schreibkunst.’’ On these developments see Stausberg, Die Religion, I , pp. 76–83. For the following see Stausberg, ‘‘Invention.’’ I have used the translation by Daryaee, Sˇahresta¯n¯ıha¯, p. 17. For transcriptions and translations see Humbach, The Ga¯tha¯s, pp. 50–5.

A name for all and no one

185

a book (keta¯b) that contains the knowledge from both worlds, consisting of the Avesta and its supplementary materials and commentary, the Zand. In the subsequent development, it seems, the corpus brought by and revealed to Zoroaster was partly narrowed down till it consisted of the Avesta only, at the expense of the Zand.30 This development is continued by modern Zoroastrians and scholars of Zoroastrianism alike when they ascribe the Ga¯tha¯s to Zoroaster. SPREADING THE FAME: OUTSIDE ASCRIPTIONS

Long before this process of ‘‘scripturalization’’ of the Zoroastrian religion, we have, in the case of Visˇta¯sp/Hystaspes (see above), encountered an example of the circulation and appropriation of texts, that is, ‘‘oracles’’ or even ‘‘books,’’ outside the framework of the Zoroastrian tradition. These texts were (mistakenly) ascribed to a figure which, within the Zoroastrian tradition, was intimately linked with the act of the original revelation that Visˇta¯spa is said to have ‘‘accepted.’’ Zoroaster, however, the recipient of the divine revelation, presents an even more extreme example of this twin development of misattribution and discursive appropriation from outside the Zoroastrian traditions. Whereas the Hystaspes fragments belonged to a rather homogeneous textual genre, Zoroaster’s presumed authorship came to cover a broad range of materials that, in the course of its development, is increasingly less capable of being reduced to a common denominator. Moreover, while the texts misattributed to Visˇta¯spa were being used by Christian apologetics during a period of some four centuries – from the mid-second to the mid-sixth century C E – Zoroaster’s fame as an author had begun to spread in different milieus somewhat earlier.31 Furthermore, and more importantly, Zoroaster’s fortune as an ‘‘author’’ of different materials continued, with a fresh supply of new textual materials, down to the present age. As illustrated above, in the nineteenth century the Western propensity for ascription would eventually cross-fertilize with the inner-Zoroastrian transformation, that is, ‘‘textualization,’’ of the scheme of revelation; as a combined effort this produced the image, by now uncritically taken for granted, of Zoroaster as the author of the Ga¯tha¯s and the founder of what came to be referred to as ‘‘Zoroastrianism.’’ 30 31

For references see Stausberg, ‘‘Invention,’’ pp. 268–70. The most ancient, albeit brief, direct mention of a text – i.e. sayings (ko´cia) – attributed to Zoroaster is to be found in the world history of the versatile Greek writer Nicolas of Damascus (b. c. 64 B C E ).

186

MICHAEL STAUSBERG

Surveying the texts or sayings (mistakenly) attributed to Zoroaster might create the impression that this was a very special case. However, one should not forget that ‘‘putting words into people’s mouths was an old and respected literary convention among the Greeks,’’32 even in preHellenistic times. And there were other ‘‘mouths’’ available, including Orpheus and Hermes Trismegistus. Moreover, as with other reputed authors, the process of ascription and reception increased its own selfaffirmative dynamics: having once become a successful source of ‘‘alien wisdom,’’ the name of Zoroaster will have attracted the ascription of ever more spurious data. Lapidary fragments In his Natural History Pliny the Elder (d. 79 C E ) is the first Western source to provide more extensive information about Zoroaster, including some hints of his date, his biography, his habits, his way of life, and some peculiarities of his body. Pliny also raises the question whether there was just one individual or several persons bearing the name Zoroaster. In one passage Pliny mentions a prescription of Zoroaster against epilepsy (37.57.157). He also provides some further indirect quotations (37.55.15; 37.58.159) from ‘‘Zoroaster,’’ mostly concerning precious stones such as the ‘‘exhebenus’’ and the ‘‘bostrychitis.’’ Moreover, Pliny reports that Zoroaster had praised (cecinisse) the ‘‘astriot’’ for magical matters (in magicis artibus) (37.49.133).33 Obviously, then, a lapidary carrying the authority of Zoroaster was in circulation and available to Pliny. At the end of the third century, or in the fourth, Solinus provides some further lapidarian references to Zoroaster.34 Classicists Bidez and Cumont link these passages to the report in the tenth-century Byzantine encyclopedia Suda of a treatise On the Virtue of Stones, which it ascribed to Zoroaster.35 However, it remains open to doubt whether there actually was such a work, or whether the Suda or its source merely assumed the existence of it, based on the ‘‘excerpts’’ found in Pliny and Solinus. However that may have been, in his Liber lapidum (Book of Stones), Marbodius of Rennes (1035–1123) still refers directly to ‘‘Zoroaster.’’36 Most probably, however, these quotations are derived from a different source altogether. 32 33 34 36

Beck, ‘‘Thus Spake Not Zarathusˇtra,’’ p. 502. Bidez and Cumont, Les Mages, I I , pp. 197–9 (¼ fragments O 55–8). Ibid., pp. 200–1 (¼ fragments O 60–1). 35 Ibid., p. 140 (¼ fragment O 5). Ibid., pp. 199–200 (¼ fragment O 59).

A name for all and no one

187

Two million lines Earlier in his Natural History, in a more comprehensive discussion of Zoroaster, Pliny refers back to Hermippus, who, according to Pliny, had written in a very careful manner about the art of magic.37 Moreover, he reports that Hermippus had commented on the 2 million lines composed by Zoroaster, and had even listed the contents of his volumes (30.4). It is generally assumed that the authority in question is the biographer and grammarian Hermippus of Smyrna; if so, this would place this commentary in the late third century B C E . Unfortunately, nothing is known about the origin, content, and later destiny of these lengthy ‘‘volumes.’’38 In any case, the ‘‘volumes’’ were almost certainly a misattribution. Since the Natural History was one of the most widely read works during the Middle Ages, Pliny’s report on Zoroaster’s 2 million lines was passed on by learned authors right into the early modern period. The charge of plagiarism and On Nature At an unknown date an anonymous scholiast to the Platonic Alcibiades (I ) noted some information about Zoroaster, for instance that he had lived 6,000 years before Plato and that he had left behind various writings (rtccqa! lasa dia! joqa) showing that, according to him, there were three divisions of philosophy, namely physics, economics, and politics.39 Unfortunately, there are no further traces of these writings. In his Republic (X ) Plato tells the story of a certain Er(os), ‘‘the son of Armenius, a Pamphylian by birth,’’ who, having fallen in war, was found after ten days, dead, but unaffected by decay; when eventually he was supposed to be burned on the pyre on the twelfth day, he returned to life (614Bff.). Referring to this myth, Clement of Alexandria (d. before 215/21 C E ) states that this ‘‘son of Armenius’’ was identical with Zoroaster. This is because Zoroaster himself according to Clement (Stromata 5.14) had written: ‘‘The following I wrote, Zoroaster the son of Armenius, from Pamphylian descent, who died in war,40 whatever I learned from the gods when I was in Hades.’’ Clement obviously had before him a text ascribed to

37

38 39 40

According to Diogen Laertius (Prooem. 8), Hermippus had written a treatise On the Magi (Peqi’ Ma! cxm). For a discussion see Beck, ‘‘Thus Spake Not Zarathusˇtra,’’ pp. 526–8. Bidez and Cumont, Les Mages, I I , pp. 23–4 (¼ fragment B 11). There are some Iranian sources indicating Zoroaster’s violent death, but never in the course of a war.

188

MICHAEL STAUSBERG

Zoroaster that was most probably in part a plagiarism of Plato. Clement, in any event, transforms the myth of Er(os) into a myth of Zoroaster. The literary character of Zoroaster’s utterance is further emphasized by a later source elaborating that theme: In his commentary on a passage of the Republic, Proclus (412–85 C E ) cites previous commentators who had argued that the myth referred back to Zoroaster instead of to Er. According to Proclus, the Epicurean philosopher Colotes (third century B C E ), had even produced a book purporting to bear the name of Zoroaster. This could be held to imply that this Epicurean had polemically charged Plato with plagiarism. Proclus proceeds by saying that he himself had consulted Zoroaster’s Four Books on Nature, the preface of which he then goes on to quote. This preface is almost identical with the text quoted by Clement more than two centuries earlier. Proclus, however, adds an important qualification, namely that the author of On Nature had also used whatever he had learned from ‘‘other enquiries’’ (i.e. apart from Zoroaster). Furthermore, Proclus gives some hints of both the form and the content of these four books: for instance that the texts centers around a conversation that Zoroaster had with Cyrus the king (‘‘though which Cyrus, does not become apparent’’), and that the books are otherwise replete with astrological observations which, ‘‘as everyone knows,’’ are in disagreement with Plato. From all of this, Proclus derives the conclusion that it remains unclear whether the myth of Er actually originated from these sources, and whether the name of Zoroaster instead of Er(os) was actually written in the copies of the text.41 The almost identical wording of the opening formulas reported by Proclus in the fifth century and by Clement in the third, together with Proclus’ suggestion that most readers would have an idea of its astrological content, attest that learned people in Alexandria and Athens were familiar with this text. However, a careful reading of Proclus’ argument does not in my view necessarily support the assumption that On Nature was the book known to Colotes in the third century B C E ,42 for Proclus makes a distinction between Colotes’ assertion and his own independent scrutiny of On Nature; in other words, Proclus does not state that Colotes knew Zoroaster’s On Nature. Hence, the third century C E (the time of Clement) seems to be the terminus ante quem for On Nature.

41 42

For the text see Bidez and Cumont, Les Mages, I I , pp. 159–60 (¼ fragment O 13). For this view see Bidez and Cumont, Les Mages, I , p. 111; Beck, ‘‘Thus Spake Not Zarathusˇtra,’’ p. 529. Bivar, ‘‘Personalities, p. 76 (ignoring the polemical nature of Colotes’ reported assertion) even claims that On Nature actually was the original from which Plato derived the myth!

A name for all and no one

189

The dozens of supposed textual witnesses that the classicists Joseph Bidez and Franz Cumont have assembled under the title On Nature can be regarded as modern attempts to restore an ancient pseudepigraph. In his scrutiny of these fragments, Roger Beck sees ‘‘no reason to deny . . . that ultimately some of the material goes back to real magian sources and magian lore.’’43 While this observation pertains to the content of the fragments, the very narrative frame of the story as reported by Proclus – a dialogue between Zoroaster and a king, here named Cyrus – distantly reminds one of the genre of the revelatory dialogue, and in particular of the revelatory scheme of the Visˇta¯sp Yasˇt (see above), reporting Zoroaster’s instruction of ‘‘king’’ Visˇta¯spa. The narrative frame, consisting of the preface reported by Clement and Proclus together with Zoroaster’s dialogue of instruction of the king, may then have been subsequently fleshed out with different materials of a vaguely astrological nature. Interestingly, from Clement’s summary it seems that the text was dealing with the ascent of the soul through the twelve signs and its subsequent descent by the same path, while the sort of astrology reported in the other sources seems to be more of a technical kind (see below). Polemics and critique: books in the Christian/Gnostic environment The data hitherto referred to as being variously ascribed to Zoroaster floated freely through Greek and Latin literature with varying success. Some ‘‘books’’ left no further traces, while others did. A further group of texts, however, stirred opposition from certain philosophical quarters. In chapter 16 of his biography of the leading Neoplatonist philosopher Plotinus, his student Porphyry (c. 234–305/10) reports that there were different sections of Christians in Plotinus’ time. Some of the ‘‘heretics’’ had formerly been partisans of philosophy. Note that Porphyry seems to regard Christianity and philosophy as competing systems, with some former philosophers ‘‘converting’’ to Christianity. Porphyry gives the names of two such renegades who, joined by their entourage, ‘‘fooled’’ many people with their claims to possess treatises of various authors and ‘‘apocalypses’’ of Zoroaster, Zostrianos, and others. Furthermore, Porphyry reports that Plotinus had written a book with the title ‘‘Against the Gnostics,’’ while he had assigned some further work to his students: Amelius was supposed to write against ‘‘the book of Zostrianos,’’ while Porphyry himself had to write against the ‘‘book of Zoroaster.’’ Porphyry 43

Beck, ‘‘Thus Spake Not Zarathusˇtra,’’ p. 533.

190

MICHAEL STAUSBERG

proudly adds that he was able to put together a large number of arguments showing that this ‘‘book was both unauthentic and recent, made up by the founders of that sect in order to make believe that the doctrines they had themselves chosen to uphold were those of the ancient Zoroaster’’ (16.2.b).44 By a stroke of good luck, both texts mentioned by Porphyry are attested in the corpus of texts from Nag Hammadi, which includes an apocalypse generally referred to as Zostrianos. This long treatise presents an autobiographical account of the otherworldly journey of its eponymous hero. Recent research has suggested that Zostrianos ‘‘is a fourth century Coptic translation of an essentially pagan Greek apocalypse produced in the late second or early third century that effected a rapprochement between traditions at home in Gnostic Sethianism and Middle Platonism of a strongly Neopythagorean bent.’’45 While the Coptic treatise does not provide any clues about the genealogy of this Zostrianos, the Christian rhetorician Arnobius, a contemporary of Porphyry, in his Adversus nationes (Against the Heathens), from around 297 to 303, characterizes Armenius as the grandson of Zostrianos.46 Armenius, however, was held by some (see on Clement, above) to be the father of Zoroaster. Accordingly, Zostrianos turns out to be the great-grandfather of Zoroaster.47 On the other hand, the final colophon to the Nag Hammadi treatise, in a cryptogram (132:6–9), qualifies the preceding apocalypse as words of truth of Zostrianos and at the same time, in the last line, as ‘‘words of Zoroaster.’’ This comes somewhat unexpectedly, like ‘‘a pious afterthought’’48 – almost as if to confirm the arbitrary nature of the ascription criticized by Porphyry. The text seems to have no apparent features that would indicate any form of Zoroastrian legacy. The shared ascription to Zostrianos and Zoroaster possibly aims at linking the somewhat otherworldly figure of Zostrianos to a better-known and more ‘‘mundane’’ personality and at interposing a further medium in the process of transmission of divine knowledge. The presumed genealogical relationship between the two figures could be, but does not need to be, a motive for the second ascription. If it were, the genealogy would enhance the idea of a successive chain of authoritative wisdom. 44 45 46

47 48

For the text and an extensive commentary see Tardieu, ‘‘Les Gnostiques.’’ Turner in Barry et al., Zostrien, p. 210. See Bidez and Cumont, Les Mages, I I , p. 15 (¼ fragment B 4). However, there seem to be various readings of the name in different manuscripts, one reading Osthanes in place of Zostrianos. Pace Turner in Barry et al., Zostrien, p. 483 (‘‘Zostrianos was the grandfather of Zoroaster’’). Ibid., p. 662.

A name for all and no one

191

So what about the book of Zoroaster that Porphyry took upon himself to refute? Again, his statements could not be more exact, for one version of another Gnostic text, referred to as The Apocryphon of John, explicitly refers in an interpolation to ‘‘the book of Zoroaster’’ (2.18:20) as a source of further information for a long list of the parts of Adam’s body and the 365 angels ruling over these parts. The wording of the text (again a Coptic translation from a lost Greek original) does not make it entirely clear whether the information provided by The Apocryphon of John is actually excerpted from the ‘‘book of Zoroaster’’ or whether the latter was merely regarded as a mine of further information of the sort provided in this Gnostic text.49 While it is almost certain, or at least highly probable, that this ‘‘book’’ is a false attribution to Zoroaster, its precise origin and identity remain a matter of speculation. As the ‘‘book’’ is mentioned as part of additional materials (found in the longer version, but not in the two shorter versions of the texts), the establishment of a date for the The Apocryphon of John and conflicting hypotheses about its origin will not necessarily throw much light on the provenance of the reference to the ‘‘book of Zoroaster.’’ At any rate, the passage from Porphyry can be adduced as providing evidence that a ‘‘book of Zoroaster’’ circulated in Christian/Gnostic environments in the late third century C E . Provided that the gist of its contents as provided by The Apocryphon of John matches what the Neoplatonic school knew about it, one is tempted to speculate that disagreements and polemics between Platonist philosophers and Christians/heretics were partly about anthropology, that is, the nature of the human body. However that may have been, in his Contra Celsum Origen (d. 254) provides a further hint that books ascribed to Zoroaster played a prominent role in some branches of Christian/Gnostic discourse. At one point (1.16), the theologian criticizes his ‘‘Gnostic’’ adversary for expelling Moses from his catalogue of the wise, while at the same time stressing the importance of Linus, Musaeus, Orpheus, Pherecydes, ‘‘Zoroaster the Persian,’’ as well as Pythagoras, and claiming that their views were laid down in ‘‘books’’ and have been preserved down to the present age. This is in line with many Gnostic/Christian writings’ dispensing with the Tanach; the scriptural vacuum was then filled by, among others, Zoroaster and his purported writings. And it is in these contexts that polemics arose and pertinent ‘‘philological’’ critique emerged, while other misattributions (like the ones discussed in the following section) were simply passed on (or not), without provoking any form of opposition. 49

See King, Secret Revelation, p. 114.

192

MICHAEL STAUSBERG

Astrological misattributions between East and West In its entry on Zoroaster, a tenth-century Byzantine encyclopedia, the Suda, ascribes an astrological work to Zoroaster, namely the Asterioskopika (‘‘star-watchings’’) and/or the Apotelesmatika (‘‘[horoscopal] outcomes’’).50 However, the fragments from ancient sources that Bidez and Cumont grouped under that heading51 (mostly examples of standard technical astrological predictions) have in common the attribution to Zoroaster, but do not refer to this work. Hence one is left with the concern that not all of these fragments actually derive from this source; alternatively, the Suda may have tagged a book title as a label on to diverse fragments circulating under the name of Zoroaster. Zoroaster was for several reasons a very popular candidate for astrological misattributions. First, several ancient authors credit Zoroaster with astrological knowledge; secondly, his very name, with its middle element, -astr-, reminiscent of Greek astron or aster and thus linking the name to the world of the stars, evoked astrological associations; and thirdly, the tradition making him a ‘‘Chaldean’’ associated Zoroaster with the reputed masters of the astrological craft.52 With few exceptions (e.g. the sixth-century C E Byzantine writer Joannes Lydus),53 the materials circulating under Zoroaster’s presumed authorship were obviously not inspired by Iranian sources.54 The earliest datable source providing a reference to an astrological prescription (on the timing of sowing) attributed to Zoroaster is once again Pliny the Elder (Natural History 18.55.200), who probably drew on more ancient materials. These, however, will be no earlier than the second century B C E . Around 175 C E the Hellenistic astrologer Vettius Valens refers to Zoroaster for the calculation of the maximum length of life allotted by the moon – again illustrating that there must have been astrological materials (fragments, if not entire books) in circulation that were ascribed to Zoroaster. Later on, turning to the East, one finds several Arabic astrological books and fragments ascribed to Zoroaster.55 Again, Zoroaster is one of several mouthpieces of special knowledge, others being, for instance, Hermes

50 51 52 53

54

55

It is unclear whether these are two works or only one; Bidez and Cumont, Les Mages, I , p. 134. Bidez and Cumont, Les Mages, I I , pp. 207–42 (¼ fragments O 76–O 97). Beck, ‘‘Thus Spake Not Zarathusˇtra,’’ pp. 523–4. Bidez and Cumont, Les Mages, I I , pp. 228–30 (fragment O 85); Beck, ‘‘Thus Spake Not Zarathusˇtra,’’ p. 539. Gundel and Gundel, Astrologumena, p. 62, suggest a Syrian or Egyptian provenance for the bulk of these materials. For surveys see Sezgin, Geschichte, pp. 81–6; Pingree, From Astral Omens to Astrology, pp. 44–6.

A name for all and no one

193

and again Ja¯ma¯sp. The astrological texts ascribed to Zoroaster were translations from Middle Persian (Pahlavi) and/or New Persian. According to David Pingree, the translations of astrological works from Middle Persian ‘‘were virtually the earliest scientific texts in Arabic,’’ and ‘‘early qAbba¯sid astrology . . . was largely Sasanian and Greek in origin.’’56 One of the earliest of these texts, and the oldest surviving treatise of genethlialogy (the science of casting nativities), is the Book of Nativities and Eclipses and Revolutions of the World and Prorogation of the Division of the World and Revolutions of the Years of Nativities and Interrogations (Kita¯b al-mawa¯l¯ıd wa al-kusu¯fa¯t wa tah.a¯w¯ıl sin¯ı al-qa¯lam wa tasy¯ır qismat al-dunya wa tah.a¯w¯ıl sin¯ı al-mawa¯l¯ıd wa al-masa¯pil ), ascribed to Zara¯dusht (Zoroaster), who, according to a piece of purported autobiography, is presented as a native of Azerbaijan57 who went to study magic at H . a¯rra¯n under a master apparently named ‘‘Aelius (or Iliyu¯s) the wise.’’58 It is stated that the text was translated around 747–745 from ‘‘Newer Persian’’ (¼ Middle Persian) into Arabic, and that the original treatise, written by Zoroaster in ‘‘Old Persian,’’ had apparently been translated into ‘‘Newer Persian’’ in 637, the year the Iranian capital Ctesiphon was captured by the Arabs. The text thereby claims to capture pre-Islamic Iranian knowledge, albeit not in its original version. On the other hand, according to Pingree there is evidence that the text is actually based on a Greek original that was translated into Middle Persian some time in the third century C E and later on underwent some elaboration. Pingree argues that this Greek original must have offered an astrological system closely resembling that of Dorotheus of Sidon and Vettius Valens,59 the latter of whom, as we have seen, in turn borrowed in one place from a text misattributed to Zoroaster. Hence, we obviously have to do with materials that, by their ascription to Zoroaster, were first appropriated from the East to the West, only to be reappropriated in turn by the East from the West. Later on, the eleventhcentury astrologer qAl¯ı ibn Ab¯ı al-Rija¯l (Latin: Abenragel) derived parts of the materials of his Kita¯b al-ba¯riq from the pseudo-Zoroastrian Kita¯b al-mawa¯l¯ıd. Through its translations into Latin and several European vernaculars, Abenragel’s quotations from ‘‘Zoroaster’’ became known throughout Europe. Thereby, the pendulum again swung back to the West. Apparently, however, there were further sources available as well. A case in point is the Bologna professor Cecco d’Ascoli (¼ Francesco degli Stabili), who was burned at the stake in 1327. In his commentary on 56 57 58

Pingree, From Astral Omens to Astrology, p. 41. This information can also be found in other Iranian sources. Pingree, From Astral Omens to Astrology, p. 45. 59 See ibid., p. 46.

194

MICHAEL STAUSBERG

Giovanni Sacrobosco’s De sphaera mundi (from around 1230), the work that initially put Cecco d’Ascoli into trouble, he claims to quote verbally from the book On the Rule of the Quadrants of the Eighth Sphere (libro de dominio quartorum octavae sphaerae) by Zoroastes (sic).60 The ‘‘quotation’’ unfolds the doctrine of four great ages of the world, each consisting of 12,000 years and each containing a new law introduced by divinely guided men. While it does not seem that it was this sort of macro-historic predictions (with their implicit challenge to the Christian authorities) that brought Cecco d’Ascoli into difficulties, it is nevertheless fascinating to find that materials of this sort ascribed to Zoroaster (and possibly having an Iranian background)61 were in circulation among astrologically inclined and ‘‘unorthodox’’ intellectuals. Zoroaster’s fame as a great astrologer was maintained throughout later European intellectual history. Occasionally the astrological etymologies of the name were further elaborated.62 In modern times some additional astrological publications were attributed to Zoroaster. These include a presumably ‘‘kabbalistic’’ treatise of prognostic astrology (Das Teleskop des Zoroasters [sic]) from the late eighteenth century in the German language; a single-sheet folio of prognostic astrology ‘‘By ZOROASTER, Professor and Teacher of the Science,’’ published in Rochdale around 1860 (providing the address of the author, where further astrological services could be ordered); a German booklet containing planetary nativities (Zoroaster’s Planetenbu¨chlein) from around 1925; and a ‘‘Horoscope for every date in your birthday book’’ by a presumed ‘‘court astrologer’’ assuming the name ‘‘Madame Daria Zoroastre,’’ published in London in 1952.63 While the earlier ascriptions – from Pliny in the first century to Cecco d’Ascoli in the fourteenth – seemed to have at their origin some form of East–West intercultural contact and would, more or less successfully, maintain the illusion of authenticity, the authors of the later works were consciously fabricating, and even their readers must have realized the bluntly fictional nature of their noms de plume. PROSPECTS

There are many more texts falsely attributed to Zoroaster than could be mentioned, let alone discussed, in this brief survey. Just as in the cases 60 61 63

Bidez and Cumont, Les Mages, I I , pp. 240–2 (fragment O 96 with commentary). See Beck, ‘‘Thus Spake Not Zarathusˇtra,’’ p. 538. 62 Stausberg, Faszination, I I , pp. 958–61. For fuller references see Stausberg, Faszination, I I , pp. 963–8.

A name for all and no one

195

discussed above, the attributions range from the playful to the serious. Passing fancies and literary ephemera stand next to texts founding new sacred traditions. Two cases in particular would merit further elucidation: Plethon and Nietzsche. Shortly before the fall of the Byzantine Empire the controversial philosopher Georg Gemistos Plethon (d. 1454) ascribed the so-called Chaldean Oracles (a body of revelatory fragments from late antiquity)64 to Zoroaster and reestablished these as a consistent body of texts. Zoroaster, the ‘‘author’’ of this text, is (besides Plato) at the same time regarded as the originator of the ‘‘neo-Hellenic’’ religion which Plethon had advocated.65 ‘‘Zoroaster’s’’ Chaldean Oracles were widely exploited in early modern esoteric discourses, among others by the Neoplatonist philosophers Marsilio Ficino (1433–99) and Francesco Patrizi (1529–97).66 The ‘‘Zoroastrian’’ Oracles shared a history with the Hermetic texts, including the eventual critique of their presumed authorship67 and their occasional ‘‘survival’’ in modern esoteric discourses. The semantic surplus of the authorizing names was not easily disrupted by philological critique. Consequently, Zoroaster served as a sort of screen on which a wide range of texts (like the astrological booklets referred to above) could be projected at will. That Zoroaster remained a powerful figure of discursive authorization in Western religious history is amply illustrated by Friedrich Nietzsche (1844–1900) and his Also sprach Zarathustra.68 This ‘‘book for all and no one’’ powerfully challenged the foundational basis of Western thought, morals, and religion. Significantly, Zarathustra is the name of the antihero who at the same time declares the death of the old God and functions as the solitary hero of a new foundational narrative – ‘‘a name for all and no one’’ at all. REFERENCES

Aiken, David, ‘‘Nietzsche and His Zarathustra: A Western Poet’s Transformation of an Eastern Priest and Prophet,’’ Zeitschrift fu¨r Religions- und Geistesgeschichte 55 (2003), pp. 335–53. Asmussen, Jes P., ‘‘Die Verku¨ndigung Zarathustras im Lichte der Religionsgeschichte: Eine vorla¨ufige Skizze,’’ Temenos 6 (1970), pp. 20–35.

64 65 66 67 68

Text in Majercik, The Chaldean Oracles. Stausberg, Faszination, I , pp. 35–82; Tambrun, ‘‘Plethon.’’ For extensive textual analyses see Stausberg, Faszination, I . For the Hermetic corpus see the contributions in Mulsow, Das Ende. For Nietzsche and Zarathustra see especially Rose, Image, pp. 173–94; Aiken, ‘‘Nietzsche’’; and the contributions in Mayer, Also wie sprach Zarathustra?

196

MICHAEL STAUSBERG

Barry, Catherine, Wolf-Peter Funk, Paul-Hubert Poirier, and John D. Turner, Zostrien (NH V I I I , 1), Bibliotheque copte de Nag Hammadi, Section ‘‘Textes’’ 24 (Quebec: Presses de l’Universite´ Laval; Louvain: Editions Peeters, 2000). Beck, Roger, ‘‘Thus Spake Not Zarathusˇtra: Zoroastrian Pseudepigrapha of the Greco-Roman World,’’ in Mary Boyce and Franz Grenet (eds.), A History of Zoroastrianism, I I I : Zoroastrianism Under Macedonian and Roman Rule (Leiden and Cologne: Brill, 1991), pp. 491–565. Bidez, Joseph, and Franz Cumont, Les Mages helle´nise´s: Zoroastre, Ostane`s et Hystaspe d’apre`s la tradition grecque, I : Introduction; I I : Les Textes (Paris: Socie´te´ d’e´ditions ‘‘Les Belles Lettres,’’ 1938). Bivar, A. D. H., The Personalities of Mithra in Archaeology and Literature (New York: Bibliotheca Persica Press, 1998). Boyce, Mary, Zoroastrianism: Its Antiquity and Constant Vigour (Costa Mesa, New York: Mazda Publishers in Association with Biblioteca Persica, 1992). Daryaee, Touraj, Sˇahresta¯n¯ıha¯ ¯ı E¯ra¯nsˇahr. A Middle Persian Text on Late Antique Geography, Epic, and History (Costa Mesa: Mazda, 2002). Gundel, Wilhelm, and Hans Georg Gundel, Astrologumena: die astrologische Literatur in der Antike und ihre Geschichte, Sudhoffs Archiv Beihefte 6 (Wiesbaden: Franz Steiner Verlag, 1966). Haug, Martin, Essays on the Sacred Language, Writings, and Religion of the Parsis, 4th edn., ed. Edward W. West (London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner, 1907). Die fu¨nf Gaˆthaˆ’s oder Sammlungen von Liedern und Spru¨chen Zarathustra’s, seiner Ju¨nger und Nachfolger (Leipzig: Abhandlungen fu¨r die Kunde des Morgenlandes, 1858). Hintze, Almut, ‘‘ ‘Do ut des’: Patterns of Exchange in Zoroastrianism: A Memorial Lecture for Ilya Gershevitch, delivered at the Royal Asiatic Society on 13 June 2002,’’ Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, 3rd ser., 14 (2004), pp. 27–45. ‘‘On the Literary Structure of the Older Avesta,’’ Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies 65 (2002), pp. 31–51. Hultga˚rd, Anders, ‘‘Forms and Origins of Iranian Apocalypticism,’’ in David Hellholm (ed.), Apocalypticism in the Mediterranean World and the Near East (Tu¨bingen: Mohr, 1983), pp. 387–411. ‘‘Mythe et histoire dans l’Iran ancien: Etude de quelques the`mes dans le Bahman Yasˇt,’’ in Geo Widengren, Anders Hultga˚rd and Marc Philonenko (eds.), Apocalyptique iranienne et dualisme qoumranien (Paris: Maisonneuve, 1995), pp. 63–162. ‘‘The Study of the Avesta and Its Religion around the Year 1900 and Today,’’ in Sigurd Hjelde (ed.), Man, Meaning, and Mystery: 100 years of History of Religions in Norway: The Heritage of W. Brede Kristensen, Studies in the History of Religions 87 (Leiden: Brill, 2000), pp. 73–99. Humbach, Helmut, The Ga¯tha¯s of Zarathushtra and the Other Old Avestan Texts, Part I: Introduction: Text and Translation (Heidelberg: Carl Winter Universita¨tsverlag, 1991).

A name for all and no one

197

Hutter, Manfred, ‘‘Schreibkunst, Sprachkompetenz und Da¨monen: Ein Motiv der iranischen Kulturgeschichte,’’ in Michaela Ofitsch and Christian Zinko (eds.), 125 Jahre Indogermanistik in Graz (Graz: Leykam, 2000), pp. 193–9. Kellens, Jean, Essays on Zarathustra and Zoroastrianism (Costa Mesa: Mazda Publishers, 2000). La Quatrie`me naissance de Zarathushtra (Paris: Editions du Seuil, 2006). King, Karen L., The Secret Revelation of John (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2006). Majercik, Ruth Dorothy, The Chaldean Oracles (Leiden: Brill, 1989). Mayer, Mathias (ed.), Also wie sprach Zarathustra? West-o¨stliche Spiegelungen im kulturgeschichtlichen Vergleich (Wu¨rzburg: Ergon-Verlag, 2006). Momigliano, Arnaldo, Alien Wisdom: The Limits of Hellenization (Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 1975). Mulsow, Martin (ed.), Das Ende des Hermetismus: Historische Kritik und neue Naturphilosophie in der Spa¨trenaissance. Dokumentation und Analyse der Debatte um die Datierung der hermetischen Schriften von Genebrard bis Casaubon (1567–1614) (Tu¨bingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2002). Panaino, Antonio, Rite, parole et pense´e dans l’Avesta re´cent: Quatre lec¸ons au Colle`ge ¨ sterreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften, Philosophischde France, O historische Klasse/Vero¨ffentlichungen zur Iranistik 716/31 (Vienna: Verlag ¨ sterreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, 2004). der O Pingree, David, ‘‘Classical and Byzantine Astrology in Sassanian Persia,’’ Dumbarton Oaks Papers 43 (1989), pp. 227–39. From Astral Omens to Astrology: From Babylon to Bikaner, Serie Orientale Roma 78 (Rome: Istituto Italiano per l’Africa e l’Oriente, 1997). Rose, Jenny, The Image of Zoroaster: The Persian Mage Through European Eyes (New York: Bibliotheca Persica Press, 2000). Sezgin, Fuat, Geschichte des arabischen Schrifttums, V I I : Astrologie – Meterologie und Verwandtes bis ca. 430 H. (Leiden: Brill, 1979). Skjærvø, Prods Oktor, ‘‘Praise and Blame in the Avesta: The Poet-Sacrificer and His Duties’’, Jerusalem Studies in Arabic and Islam (Studies in Honour of Shaul Shaked), 26 (2002), pp. 29–67. ‘‘Rivals and Bad Poets: The Poet’s Complaint in the Old Avesta,’’ in M. G. Schmidt and W. Bisang (eds.), Philologica et Linguistica: Historia, Pluralitas, Universitas: Festschrift fu¨r Helmut Humbach zum 80. Geburtstag am 4. Dezember 2001 (Trier: Wissenchaftlicher Verlag, 2001), pp. 351–76. ‘‘Zarathustra: First Poet-Sacrificer,’’ in Siamak Adhami (ed.), Paitima¯na: Essays in Iranian, Indo-European, and Indian Studies in Honor of Hanns-Peter Schmidt, I I (Costa Mesa: Mazda Publishers, 2003), pp. 157–94. Speyer, Wolfgang, Die literarische Fa¨lschung im heidnischen und christlichen Altertum: Ein Versuch ihrer Deutung (Munich: C. H. Beck, 1971). Stausberg, Michael, Faszination Zarathushtra: Zoroaster und die Europa¨ische Religionsgeschichte der Fru¨hen Neuzeit, 2 vols. (Berlin and New York: de Gruyter, 1998).

198

MICHAEL STAUSBERG

‘‘The invention of a Canon: The Case of Zoroastrianism,’’ in Arie van der Kooij and Karel van der Toorn (eds.), Canonization and Decanonization, Studies in the History of Religions 82 (Leiden, Boston, and Cologne: Brill, 1998), pp. 257–77. ‘‘John Wilson und der Zoroastrismus in Indien: Eine Fallstudie zur interreligio¨sen Kritik,’’ Zeitschrift fu¨r Religionswissenschaft 5 (1997), pp. 87–114. Die Religion Zarathushtras: Geschichte – Gegenwart – Rituale, 3 vols. (Stuttgart: Kohlhammer, 2002–4). Tambrun, Brigitte, ‘‘Plethon, Georgios Gemistos,’’ in Wouter J. Hanegraaff (ed.), Dictionary of Gnosis and Western Esotericism (Leiden: Brill, 2005), pp. 960–3. Tardieu, Michel, ‘‘Les Gnostiques dans la Vie de Plotin,’’ in Porphyre: la Vie de Plotin II. Etudes d’introduction, texte grec et introduction franc¸aise, commentaire, notes comple´mentaires, bibliographie (Paris: Libraire philosophique J. Vrin, 1992), pp. 503–46. Wach, Joachim, Sociology of Religion (Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 1962). Waldstein, Michael, and Frederik Wisse, The Apocryphon of John: Synopsis of Nag Hammadi Codices II,1; III,1; and IV,1 with BG 8502,2 (Leiden and New York and Cologne: Brill, 1995).

CHAPTER

10

The peculiar sleep: receiving The Urantia Book Sarah Lewis

I am utterly convinced that, circa 1906–1955, non-material beings of super-human intelligence and maturity interfaced regularly with a group of (eventually) six mortals for the purpose of providing a religious revelation of epochal significance.1 The Urantia2 Papers,3 later published as The Urantia Book, were received by a small group of people in Chicago through an unnamed person, known as the ‘‘sleeping subject’’ or ‘‘contact personality,’’ distinguished by his ‘‘peculiar sleep.’’4

The way the Urantia revelation is said to have emerged is quite unlike that found within most other traditions. There is no belief that the message is a reemergence of a previously lost tradition, nor is there any claim that the material emerged from any great figure from history. Instead, The Urantia Book is claimed to have been divulged by higher beings, through a human being, through an unknown method, and relatively recently. All that is told of the person chosen by the ‘‘student visitors’’ or ‘‘celestial beings’’ to be the ‘‘vehicle’’ through which these revelations would emerge is that it was a male patient of Dr. William Sadler (a psychiatrist and former Seventh-Day Adventist), and those who witnessed the events insist that the ‘‘sleeping subject’’ was not a medium, nor did he ‘‘channel’’ or ‘‘automatically write’’ the Urantia Papers.5 There is a great desire to present as 1 2 3

4

Mullins, History, pp. 4–5. The name of our planet. Explanations of terminology are taken from Bradley, Introduction, glossary. The Urantia Papers were published in 1955 as The Urantia Book. The book is 2,097 pages in length, and contains 196 chapters, divided into four Parts. It is said to contain the earth’s fifth revelation from God, and is seen as the most complete revelation so far available to humanity. It outlines the nature of God, creation, and humanity, and aims to dispel any conflict that might be perceived to exist between science and religion. See my earlier work for a summary of the ideas found within The Urantia Book: Lewis, ‘‘Urantia Book.’’ See also . The Urantia Foundation was established in 1950 to enable the promulgation of the Revelation through the translation, publication, and distribution of The Urantia Book, and the Foundation oversaw the publication of The Urantia Book in 1955. Mullins, History, p. 149. 5 Ibid., p. 5.

199

200

SARAH LEWIS

innovative not just the content of the Papers but also the way in which they were received. This chapter will examine the emergence of the Urantia revelation, suggesting why the Urantia Foundation denies the involvement of these wellknown phenomena in the emergence of the Papers. Further, it will examine possible reasons for the secrecy motif, and the potential impact of the myth and mystery surrounding the Papers on the acceptance of the vast spectrum of new ideas that The Urantia Book postulates. It will also address the issue of ‘‘celestial beings’’ and copyright law, highlighting two court cases where the Urantia Foundation was challenged about its copyright on The Urantia Book on the grounds that a divine author cannot be granted copyright in United States law. THE BEGINNING OF THE REVELATION

Those who first came into contact with the ‘‘student visitors’’ through the ‘‘sleeping subject’’ or ‘‘contact personality,’’ between 1906 and 1911, were Dr. William Sadler and his wife Dr. Lena Sadler, the ‘‘sleeping subject,’’ and his wife. The wife of the ‘‘sleeping subject’’ had become concerned over the deep sleeping patterns of her husband and had called on the advice of William Sadler. ‘‘The peculiar sleep,’’6 during which the ‘‘sleeping subject’’ suffered from ‘‘abnormal movements,’’ was observed, with the sleep becoming, as Larry Mullins notes, ‘‘more remarkable and perplexing.’’7 Mullins8 continues with a description of ‘‘the first contact’’: ‘‘the subject was moistening his lips . . . ‘Perhaps we should ask a question . . . How are you feeling?’. . . To the great astonishment of everyone, the subject spoke! But the voice was peculiar, not his normal voice. The voice identified itself as a student visitor on an observation mission from another planet.’’9 This ‘‘being’’ was apparently conversing through the ‘‘sleeping subject’’ by some means, and this then became a common occurrence. Later, two other people were admitted to witness the events, one of whom became the secretary, and the six became known as the Contact Commission. It was only the Contact Commission that witnessed the activities of the ‘‘sleeping subject,’’ and only the Contact Commission that knew his identity, and they were instructed not to divulge his identity or the exact events surrounding the emergence of the revelation that would become The Urantia Book. 6 8 9

Ibid., p. 149. 7 Ibid., p. 150. Ibid.; see also Moyer, Birth of a Divine Revelation, pp. 99–106. Sherman, How to Know, quoted in Mullins, History, p. 50.

The peculiar sleep

201

Also involved in the receipt of the revelation was the Forum, a group who had initially, from 1923, come together in the Sadlers’ home, to discuss philosophical issues, but who later became responsible for generating questions for the ‘‘student visitors’’ on varying matters; the answers to the questions posed to the ‘‘student visitors’’ would form the basis of the Urantia Papers. In late 1925, the Forum became a closed group, with members signing a pledge of secrecy. The pledge read: We acknowledge our pledge of secrecy, renewing our promise not to discuss the Urantia Revelations or their subject matter with any one save active Forum members, and to take no notes of such matter as is read or discussed at the public sessions, or make copies or notes of what we personally read.10

Initially, the ‘‘student visitors’’ who appeared to work through the ‘‘sleeping subject’’ made their presence known solely through voiced means. However, this was to change in early 1925, with the appearance of ‘‘a voluminous handwritten document’’11 in the house of the ‘‘sleeping subject.’’ The manuscript was typed, and this was from then on to become the regular method of receiving information. SADLER’S EXPLANATION OF THE EVENTS

William Sadler’s initial explanation for the oral transmission was that it was being generated in the mind of the individual,12 yet he said he abandoned this initial diagnosis of automatic speaking after examining the ‘‘sleeping subject’’ under hypnosis, but then his quest to find ‘‘another scientific answer’’ failed. As with the assumption that the early contacts were the result of automatic speaking, Sadler felt the appearance of the written document could be explained as automatic writing. Yet, after carrying out some tests (including handwriting analysis), the notion of automatic writing was refuted. The exact way in which the Papers were received has been a well-guarded secret. ‘‘There are only a few of us still living who were in touch with this phenomenon in the beginning, and when we die, the knowledge of it will die with us. Then the book will exist as a great spiritual mystery, and no human will know the manner in which it came about.’’13 And there has been much debate and speculation on how exactly the Urantia Papers were received. Mullins notes that ‘‘in an ideal world, these questions would not 10 13

Sadler, History. 11 Mullins, History, p. 67. 12 Moyer, Birth of a Divine Revelation, p. 5. Sherman, How to know, quoted in Mullins, History, p. 81.

202

SARAH LEWIS

arise, the message of the Papers alone should speak for their authenticity. This was the original hope of Dr. Sadler.’’14 Further, Any thinking person must wonder if the events just described could have really happened. Possibly only a long-time reader of the Urantia Papers could be quickly convinced that the events that I have pieced together and depicted here actually occurred. The Urantia Papers are the best testimony of their own validity. Virtually anyone who studies them with care and an open mind must be persuaded that they are, at the very least, a unique presentation of who we are, where we came from, and where we are going.15

Sadler gave two reasons why the Forum was instructed not to divulge the exact events surrounding the revelation that would emerge as The Urantia Book.16 First, there are too many ‘‘missing links’’; no one, he said, really understands how the revelations were received. Second, revealing the identity of the ‘‘contact personality’’ would lead to a human becoming identified with The Urantia Book; the aim is for The Urantia Book to stand alone, without ‘‘mortal connections.’’ If an association were to be made between a human being and the Papers, this person could then be ascribed a status that is wholly inappropriate. The Urantia Book is to stand on its own as a great text, without leading to the veneration of any human beings involved in it. Mullins notes: The risk is one of developing a cult around The Urantia Book itself, a virtual ‘religion’ about the Book – to the exclusion of its message and teachings. Perhaps the most unsavoury idea that has come forward is that the contact Commissioners had secret powers and special spiritual status. People love stories of this nature.17

There are other points to note relating to the secrecy motif. First, naming the ‘‘sleeping subject’’ would have given critics a focus, and the temptation would have been to attempt to find something in the life of the ‘‘sleeping subject’’ that would discredit the message that emerged through him. Human beings are open to criticism in various ways, but if a text is not attributed to a human, the text cannot suffer if the human author is found to be unfavorable in some way. Second, a divine author is not felt to be able to commit error, whereas human beings are open to error. If fallible human beings are removed, the text could stand as the product of infallible divine authorship. Humans can be criticized, and their texts with them. It is not so easy to criticize a transcendent being. Third, the founders or leaders of new religious movements tend to be controversial, with their lives becoming better known 14 17

Mullins, History, p. 81. Mullins, History, p. 82.

15

Ibid., p. 87.

16

Sadler, Urantia Book, pp. 6–7.

The peculiar sleep

203

than their message, and any misdeeds in their personal lives detract from their message. If the revelation that became The Urantia Book was not said to have emerged from the mind of a charismatic leader figure, then these potential problems are avoided (even if other problems emerge). Fourth, followers of the message may have focused more on the leader than on the message, and this might have been something Sadler wanted to avoid, particularly if the revelation came from him. Fifth, there might have been a desire to protect the ‘‘sleeping subject’’ and his family from intrusion. Finally, it could also be the case that the secrecy was created by Sadler, with the support of the Forum, in the hope that this colorful myth would attract more interest. WILLIAM SADLER AS CHARISMATIC LEADER

Despite the desire not to associate any human being with the Revelation, it is clear that Sadler is accorded a high status within the Urantia Foundation. ‘‘Both Sadler and Christy [the secretary] have been held up as idols in the work of the Revelation. Without question the Revelation would not have appeared without Sadler. He was the key personality.’’18 Moyer argues that Sadler was the ideal person to receive the Papers, since he was a doctor and a person highly skeptical of psychic phenomena, believing such things to be an abnormal act within the human mind.19 He also notes the psychological preparation of Sadler, including his disillusionment with some figures within Seventh-Day Adventism, his former church. They [the celestial agencies] removed him [Sadler] from allegiance to church bodies, and to human organizational structure. Little was Sadler aware how he was being prepared for more important service to God and to his fellow man. Disillusionment with the world produces alterations in attitude which prepares a human mortal for more profound insights into spiritual realities. For those who can benefit, it reduces naivete´ and strengthens character, while it moulds the mind to more rigorous assessments and firm decisions.20

CHANNELING 21

Sadler concluded that the revelation was not received through any means that were previously known to him. He said the Papers were not received through automatic writing, automatic thinking (e.g. speaking in tongues, 18 21

Moyer, Birth of a Divine Revelation, p. 8. Sadler, Urantia Book.

19

Ibid., p. 9.

20

Ibid., p. 57.

204

SARAH LEWIS

trance mediumship), automatic hearing (e.g. hearing voices), automatic seeing (e.g. visions, hallucinations), automatic thinking (e.g. dreams, extrasensory perception), automatic remembering (e.g. clairvoyance, telepathy), automatic acting (e.g. witchcraft, somnambulism), automatic personalization (e.g. amnesia, double or multiple personality, split personality), or combined and associated psychic states. But on the other hand, he did not state how the Papers were received. Clearly, followers of the Urantia Papers want the revelation to have been delivered in a way that is not comparable with other revelations and also not through a means that was frowned upon by Seventh-Day Adventism. The receipt of The Urantia Book is to be viewed as a unique experience and unique revelation. Also, Sadler, being a former Seventh-Day Adventist, clearly still felt that channeling and spiritualism were not to be trusted and therefore could not have been involved in the Revelation in which he so clearly believed. However, his definition of channeling is narrow. Channeling is basically interdimensional communication, when someone claims to be in contact with a supernatural source of information from which teachings are received.22 Sources for channeling are often seen as ‘‘higher beings,’’ but can be anything from Jesus to dolphins and plants, or even the inner voice or higher self of the channel, and there are several different types of channeling. Channeling can be intentional, or unintentional and spontaneous, or it can start as unintentional and then become intentional once the ability has been established. If channeling is unintentional, the channel is pretty much at the mercy of the process, and cannot stop it even if he or she wants to. Bowman notes the ‘‘growing hunger for ‘hidden knowledge’ of various sorts,’’ noting that channeled wisdom ‘‘both imparts knowledge about the past, and advice for the present and future from diverse disembodied sources including historical figures, religious teachers, aliens, angels and ascended masters.’’23 Adherents of the Urantia revelation argue that a ‘‘blending’’ of the ‘‘sleeping subject’’ and the ‘‘student visitors’’ occurred. The ‘‘sleeping subject,’’ according to this view, was safe, as he knew nothing of the events in which he was involved and could therefore not have been inviting evil spirits. Yet, it could be argued that channeling is not always concerned with possession and could be described as ‘‘blending.’’ If the ‘‘sleeping subject’’ was not aware of the ‘‘student visitors’’ using his body, then surely it is more like invasion – which is exactly why Seventh-Day Adventism spoke against it. It is, of course, possible that the ‘‘sleeping subject’’ was carrying out 22

Melton, ‘‘New Thought and the New Age,’’ p. 18.

23

Bowman, ‘‘More of the Same?,’’ p. 90.

The peculiar sleep

205

intentional trance channeling, but could not state this, as he knew that Sadler’s Seventh-Day Adventist background would not allow him to take such an event as anything other than invasion by demonic forces. Although Sadler had broken with his Seventh-Day Adventist background, he clearly still held faith in some Adventist teachings, including the belief that the channeling used in spiritualism was a way for Satan to deceive the living.24 Seventh-Day Adventism objected to the idea that the dead could return and communicate with the living, but this is not what was happening in the case of the ‘‘sleeping subject’’ and the ‘‘student visitors.’’ Those who imparted information through the ‘‘sleeping subject’’ were clearly not deceased human beings, but ‘‘higher beings.’’ If the Seventh-Day Adventist view of channeling that was still influencing Sadler had not been so narrow, it might not have been necessary for Sadler to deny that the Urantia Revelation was channeled. Followers of the revelation are clearly using a very specific and narrow definition of channeling. For Moyer, it is important to distinguish between the events surrounding the emergence of the Papers and those surrounding the work of people such as Edgar Cayce,25 who, says Moyer, would have been aware of entering into a psychic state. Channeling, for Moyer, means that the human mind has invited ‘‘invasion,’’ and this means that evil spirits could be unintentionally summoned. If, however, the mind knows nothing of the act, it cannot be invaded by evil. Yet Sadler and others were clearly ignoring the many other variations of channeling. The notion of channeling messages other than from deceased human beings was not unusual at the time, with Theosophy and its claims that Madame Blavatsky was a channel for the ascended masters of Tibet, and New Thought, too, going on to develop such ideas, which were found among wealthier and respected parts of society and drew a reasonable amount of respect from those who were not influenced by religious groups that specifically opposed it; Sadler could have found support among such people. The new revelation found in the Urantia Papers was so remarkable in itself that adding the notion that they had been received through channeling would have not been a great deterrent in an already complicated situation. Documents that claim certain origins and that claim to be the work of a certain author or authors at a certain time are open to having these claims 24

25

See Ministerial Association General Conference of Seventh-Day Adventists, Seventh-Day Adventists Believe . . . Moyer, Birth of a Divine Revelation, p. 8.

206

SARAH LEWIS

destroyed. With the rise of biblical criticism in the nineteenth century, biblical critics found themselves agreeing that certain books of the Bible could not have been written by those to whom they had been ascribed, or that dates and other ‘‘facts’’ in the Bible could be disproved. However, with The Urantia Book, no author is named and therefore the authorship cannot be refuted. The date of the emergence of the Papers is not open to question, even if the way they appeared is. With so little information given, there is less to refute, to disprove, to label as false. As with any document linked to any religion, there may be uncertainty about dates or authorship, but this does not affect faith. Following a religion requires faith, not reason, and The Urantia Book is no different. The existence of God cannot be proved; it depends on faith and personal experience. No one can know how the Urantia Papers emerged, but this is not important to faith in its message. Those who read The Urantia Book and believe its message need not be concerned with its origins. This is comparable to members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, where some members would have joined, not because of the myth surrounding Joseph Smith and the golden plates, but because of the message itself. In any case, those who are likely to be attracted to such a unique message are likely to find such mysterious origins attractive. The Urantia Book is no more peculiar than any other document linked to any other faith. If followers of older belief systems are not concerned by their remarkable origins, nor should anyone, critics or supporters, feel that the mystery surrounding The Urantia Book somehow renders it less worthy. It makes sense of the world for certain people, and in that way is ‘‘true.’’ CELESTIAL BEINGS AND COPYRIGHT LAW

In 1956 the Urantia Foundation registered copyright of The Urantia Book. In 1991, the Urantia Foundation discovered that a woman named Kristen Maaherra was distributing unauthorized computerized copies of the book and sued her for copyright infringement.26 This is interesting, as it raises issues of copyright of religious texts, and brings what would normally be viewed as divine and beyond earthly constructs firmly into the world of legal wrangling. It also raises issues surrounding religious freedom. In 1991, the case of Urantia Foundation v. Maaherra saw Maaherra argue that, as The Urantia Book emerged from celestial beings, then no one, including the Urantia Foundation, can hold copyright. 26

(accessed February 4, 2006).

The peculiar sleep

207

Urantia Foundation v. Maaherra, 895 F.Supp. 1337 (D. Ariz. 1995). Summary judgment was granted to the plaintiff on the defendant’s assertion that the Urantia Book copyright is invalid because the copyright claimant is not the author. The book, the defendant claims, is a work of divine revelation. Its authors are spiritual beings. But the court found sufficient human creativity in the book to support a copyright and declined to rule whether the book is a divine revelation.27

According to United States law, to be eligible for copyright a work must have an ‘‘author,’’ and copyright can be claimed by the author for ‘‘original’’ work in a ‘‘tangible form of expression.’’28 As the Urantia Foundation claims that The Urantia Book has a nonhuman author, the case was drawn away from laws, ideas, and terminology that are normally used to resolve copyright infringement cases. The outcome was a ruling against Maaherra, despite the fact that the court agreed that divine beings cannot be holders of copyright. To make this ruling, the court had to hold that human authorship had played a role in The Urantia Book. It presented the finding that the content of the Urantia Papers was the result of questions posed to the ‘‘celestial beings,’’ and that human beings committed these utterings to paper (until the revelations themselves began appearing in hard copy). A particularly interesting question is why the court did not base its ruling on the idea that celestial beings do not exist, and therefore that The Urantia Book must have had a human author or authors, and therefore that they hold the copyright: ‘‘The celestial origin of the Urantia Book is a matter of faith, and freedom of religion would be damned’’; and ‘‘both sides in the lawsuit agree[d] that these ‘celestial beings’ exist, and in a lawsuit the court must go by what both parties agree.’’29 Another attempt to remove the copyright from The Urantia Book 30 resulted in Michael Foundation Inc v. Urantia Foundation.31 In 1999, Harry McMullan III, of the Urantia Book Fellowship,32 and Michael Foundation, published Part IV of The Urantia Book, the Jesus Papers, as a stand-alone publication entitled Jesus: A New Revelation. The publication of JANR will be found to be perfectly legal if it is ever tested in court. The opinion under which Urantia Foundation’s copyright was reinstated held that revelation itself is not subject to copyright, but that the forum’s involvement in asking questions of the revelators supplied sufficient human authorship 27 28 29 30 31 32

(accessed February 5, 2006). (accessed February 4, 2006). (accessed July 26, 2005). See . (accessed February 4, 2006). A breakaway from the Urantia Foundation and initially known as the Urantia Brotherhood.

208

SARAH LEWIS

to permit The Urantia Book to be copyrighted. The theory underlying that decision would allow anyone who had batted around a few ideas with an author to make a claim to copyright on his work – a totally unworkable situation which would overturn the entire concept of authorship in copyright. It will be overturned if it is seriously challenged. Moreover, even if the decision did stand, it does not apply to Part IV, since the evidence is that Part IV was delivered as a complete unit without any of the forum involvement necessary to qualify for a copyright.33

What made this different from the Maaherra case, shown in the extract above and in the court ruling in McMullan’s favor, is that the Jesus Papers could be argued to be different from the other revelations in the Urantia Book. The Jesus Papers were not given as a result of questions posed by the Forum,34 but ‘‘as an intended . . . final masterpiece.’’35 Therefore, the idea that human authorship played a role in The Urantia Book, which cost Maaherra her case, could not be applied here. The jury had sufficient evidence on which to base its decision that The Urantia Book is neither a ‘‘composite work’’ nor a ‘‘commissioned work,’’ and that Urantia Foundation was, therefore, not entitled to a renewal of the U.S. copyright in The Urantia Book.36

In 2003, the court ruled that copyright to the English edition of The Urantia Book has been in the public domain since 1983. STATISTICAL INVESTIGATIONS INTO AUTHORSHIP

A paper discovered in the course of this research is one by Ken Glasziou, in which he looks at methodology for determining authorship and, through using this methodology on The Urantia Book, attempts to discover whether The Urantia Book could be ascribed to one human author (Sadler or the ‘‘sleeping subject’’) or several human authors (the Forum), or whether the evidence would reveal that The Urantia Book most likely is a divine revelation accurately ascribed to celestial beings (i.e. more than one superhuman author).37 Glasziou’s statistical analyses are found in his paper, but in short he believes that the statistical evidence shows that a minimum of nine authors 33

34 36 37

The Mighty Messenger, published quarterly by Uversa Press for the Publications Committee of The Urantia Book Fellowship, Part IV published in separate volume; interviews with Harry McMullan III and Travis Binion; available at (accessed February 4, 2006). See S. Lewis, ‘‘Urantia Book.’’ 35 Mullins, History, p. 127. (accessed February 4, 2006). Glasziou, K, Science, Anthropology, Part 3.

The peculiar sleep

209

were involved in The Urantia Book. Glasziou also applied statistical analysis to some of Sadler’s publications, and the results convinced him that Sadler was not one of the authors of The Urantia Book. He states: There is no way that [Martin] Gardner’s38 proposal that the subconscious mind of a sleeping human subject was itself the source of the textual material of the Urantia Papers can be reconciled with the statistical evidence presented. The evidence is consistent with many different authors having been heavily involved in the writing of the Urantia Papers, probably far more than the minimum of about nine suggested by this investigation. Neither is the hypothesis of very extensive editing by Dr. Sadler and others consistent with these findings.39

Glasziou concludes that Gardner’s40 insistence that the ‘‘sleeping subject’’ authored The Urantia Book is incompatible with the results of his (Glasziou’s) writing styles analysis, and that in any case Wilfred Kellogg, if he was the ‘‘sleeping subject,’’ was unlikely to be able to produce such work.41 However, this does overlook the possibility that a person’s ability could be greater when in an altered state of consciousness than in his or her normal waking state. Glasziou states that ‘‘there is no sensible, rational proposal about human authorship of the Papers. But any conclusion claiming other-than-human authorship is unprovable.’’42 In his attempt to rule out human authorship, Glasziou states that there was no motive for a human being or human beings to produce the Papers. He argues that neither wealth nor fame resulted from the Papers and that there is no reason to believe that an altruistic end was sought through dishonest and deceitful means. He clearly holds great faith in human nature and argues that no one involved in the Papers would have engaged in such a dishonest act. Martin Gardner43 is one of the few people outside the Urantia Foundation who has undertaken research into the movement. His research is worth noting, although his position as a great skeptic does not allow his conclusions much academic credibility. Gardner believes that he has unearthed the identity of the ‘‘sleeping subject’’ (he says it was a man called Wilfred Kellogg) and appears to think that this somehow discredits the Revelation. But knowing the identity of the ‘‘sleeping subject’’ does not at all prove that the Revelation was false. Possible reasons for keeping the identity of the ‘‘sleeping subject’’ secret are discussed elsewhere in this work. Gardner also argues that much within The Urantia Book is based on the doctrines of Seventh-Day Adventism (Gardner uses the term 38 40 42

Glasziou refers to Gardner, Urantia. Gardner, On the Wild Side; Urantia. Glasziou, Science, Anthropology, Part 3.

39 41

Glasziou, Science, Anthropology, Part 3. Sadler, Mind at Mischief. 43 Gardner, On the Wild Side, p. 103.

210

SARAH LEWIS

‘‘plagiarized’’), and makes much of the fact that Sadler was a former SeventhDay Adventist. Again, there is no reason for this to cause a problem for the Revelation. It could simply be stated that the ‘‘celestial beings’’ found some areas of Seventh-Day Adventism to be accurate, and therefore to be used, developed, and expanded upon, and that is why they chose a former member of the Seventh-Day Adventist church (Sadler). Of course, it is impossible to prove or disprove the claim that the Urantia Revelation was made through a hitherto never seen means that was not channeling. Equally, it is impossible to prove or disprove that the Revelation was channeled, or whether the Revelation came from a divine source or from human fabrication. Many of the problems associated with the nature of the Urantia Revelation could just as easily apply to the claims of holy books of other faiths. It is not in the remit of religious studies to make any judgments on the truth claims of religious groups. To become faithful to the Revelation claimed by The Urantia Book requires no greater a leap of faith over reason than any other religious proclamation. All religious groups and organizations will have faced, at some point, the discovery of discrepancies in their teachings or disagreement over issues such as dates or authorship, or the accuracy of the history out of which they claim to have emerged. James Lewis notes that ‘‘an important ideological resource for emergent movements . . . is legitimacy.’’44 He highlights some examples of legitimation strategies, such as charismatic appeals, rational appeals, and traditional appeals. The Urantia Revelation can be understood as having made two of these appeals to legitimation, with less emphasis on the strategy that probably would have given the strongest legitimation, that of appealing to tradition. The Urantia Revelation is not securing legitimacy through historically known and accepted means to any great degree, nor is it even using common language that would increase the likelihood of understanding and therefore acceptance. It introduces new concepts and a new language, and this does not make acceptance any easier. Sadler certainly stood as a charismatic leader, chosen to receive the Revelation even if not directly through his own body. Sadler’s appeal was to direct revelation, ‘‘a direct revelation from the sacred’’ leading to ‘‘the discovery of previously unknown sacred beings.’’45 The appeal to tradition in The Urantia Book is less well established and useful, in that the Jesus Papers that form Part IV of the Revelation, although finding some foundation in biblical writings, largely portray Jesus in a new and innovative 44

J. R. Lewis, Legitimating New Religious, p. 11.

45

Ibid., p. 13.

The peculiar sleep

211

way, with little extensive foundation within the Christian or biblical tradition. Tradition is being reinterpreted and expanded upon, and, although this is not unusual, the Urantia Revelation probably takes this a step further than other traditions. The Urantia Revelation merges new, direct revelation with the authority of scripture, but the former far outweighs the latter, and the latter is in any case highly influenced by the former, to the point where the person of Jesus (or Michael of Nebadon46) presented in The Urantia Book is barely recognizable as the same figure that stands central to the New Testament. Skeptics such as Martin Gardner have posed little problem to those who hold faith in the Urantia Revelation. What is unearthed by skeptics is the possible identity of the ‘‘sleeping subject’’ and the fact that the Revelation is likely to have been channeled despite the denial that this was so (plus, of course, the idea that the whole revelation is fabrication!). Further, skeptics are likely to have done little damage to the successful promulgation of the message, as those to whom the Urantia Revelation is likely to appeal are unlikely to be influenced by unsubstantiated skepticism and rather tame and inactive accusations. As Lewis notes of his legitimation strategies, they are ‘‘directed primarily toward a new religion’s immediate audience, namely followers and potential converts. As long as the movement remains small and noncontroversial, efforts to legitimate the group rarely extend beyond this audience.’’47 The Urantia Revelation is largely uncontroversial compared with other movements, lacking the zealous proselytizing found within many other groups, and is therefore likely to remain small and unaffected by opposing voices. The Urantia Revelation is found only in The Urantia Book. There are many communities that are aware that part of their textual tradition is spurious, and their responses will vary depending on the dynamics, strength, and long-term aims of the group. Biblical criticism in the nineteenth century caused some temporary problems for some aspects of the Bible, but Christian belief was largely unaffected, and certainly not in the long term. The situation is very different for the Urantia Revelation. The Urantia Book is all that there is of the Urantia Revelation, a revelation that has looked to history and the historical Jesus for support but that has changed this image so much that it is barely recognizable. If the Urantia Papers were attempting to appeal fully to firm historical tradition, then the Jesus Papers, which form Part IV of The Urantia Book, would have been placed at the beginning of the publication. The Urantia Revelation is 46

See S. Lewis, ‘‘Urantia Book.’’

47

J. R. Lewis, Legitimating New Religious, p. 15.

212

SARAH LEWIS

presented without easily recognizable and verifiable support from elsewhere and therefore The Urantia Book is forced to stand alone. REFERENCES

Bowman, ‘‘More of the Same? Christianity, Vernacular Religion and Alternative Spirituality in Glastonbury,’’ in Steven Sutcliffe and Marion Bowman (eds.), Beyond New Age (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2000), pp. 83–104. Bradley, David, An Introduction to the Urantia Revelation (Arcata, CA: White Egret Publications, 1998). Gardner, Martin, On the Wild Side (Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Books, 1992). Urantia (Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Books, 1995). Glasziou, Ken, Science, Anthropology and Archaeology in The Urantia Book, Part 3, ‘‘Who Wrote the Urantia Papers?’’, available at (accessed February 4, 2006). Lewis, Sarah, ‘‘The Urantia Book,’’ in C. Partridge (ed.), UFO Religions (London, Routledge, 2003), pp. 129–98. Ministerial Association General Conference of Seventh-Day Adventists, SeventhDay Adventists Believe . . . A Biblical Exposition of 27 Fundamental Doctrines (Hagerstown, MD: The Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1988). Moyer, Ernest P., The Birth of a Divine Revelation (Hanover: Moyer Publishing, 2000). Spirit Entry into Human Mind (Hanover: Moyer Publishing, 2000). Mullins, Larry, A History of the Urantia Papers (Boulder, CO: Penumbra Press, 2000). Sadler, William, A History of the Urantia Movement, available at (accessed July 26, 2005). The Mind at Mischief: Tricks and Deceptions of the Subconscious and How to Cope with Them (New York: Funk & Wagnals, 1929), available at . Sherman, Harold, How to Know What to Believe (New York: Fawcett, 1976). The Urantia Book (Chicago, IL: Uversa Press, 1996; first published 1955).

CHAPTER

11

Ontology of the past and its materialization in Tibetan treasures Holly Gayley

In a mode of revelation particular to Tibetan and Himalayan regions, traces of the past are reportedly embedded in the landscape as terma or ‘‘treasures’’ (gter ma).1 Hidden away for future generations, these treasures may be esoteric texts, relics, images, sacred dances, ritual implements, medicinal substances, jewels, natural resources, and even whole valleys. The Tibetan propensity for burying valuables during periods of political uncertainty is an indigenous antecedent for the treasure phenomenon cited by scholars.2 There are also well-known Indian antecedents in stories of the concealment and retrieval of Buddhist scriptures and relics, most famously the Prajn˜a¯pa¯ramita¯ su¯tras.3 Beyond these antecedents, treasure revelation relies on what I will be analyzing as an ontological conception of the past, whereby an idealized historical period is rooted in timelessness and continues to be accessed in the present. Treasure revelation can be described as a process of recovering such a past, believed to be concealed in the Tibetan and Himalayan landscape as esoteric teachings and sacred objects, intended for the people of particular times and places.

I would like to express my appreciation to Janet Gyatso, Leigh Miller Sangster, and Rose Taylor for their helpful comments on an early draft of this chapter. The predominant form of terma is called ‘‘earth treasures’’ (sa gter), said to be discovered in the landscape; late in the treasure tradition another major category emerged, called ‘‘mind treasures’’ (dgongs gter). See Doctor, Tibetan Treasure Literature, for an overview of typologies of treasures. 2 See Davidson, Tibetan Renaissance, p. 213, and Germano, ‘‘Re-membering,’’ pp. 53–5. 3 Tibetan treasures are perhaps the most dramatic example of a longstanding Buddhist practice of introducing scriptures, images, and relics through the trope of concealment and retrieval. For example, see Trainor, Relics, regarding the transfer of relics to Sri Lanka. Wedemeyer has recently coined the term ‘‘auctorization’’ to refer to a broad pattern of claims to prestige and authority for the growing body of Buddhist literature in India through various modes of scriptural revelation; see Wedemeyer, A¯ryadeva’s Lamp. Nevertheless, as Gyatso suggests, due to the sheer scale of the phenomena in Tibet (with hundreds of ‘‘treasure revealers’’), the theoretical sophistication of accounts of the revelation process, and its impact on the character of Tibetan religion and identity, ‘‘despite parallels elsewhere, the Treasure tradition is a uniquely Tibetan phenomenon, which developed and thrived in a distinctively Tibetan context’’; see Gyatso, Apparitions of the Self, p. 147. 1

213

214

HOLLY GAYLEY

Treasure revelation draws on the authority of the past associated with the ‘‘early propagation’’ (snga dar) of Buddhism in Tibet under the stewardship of kings during the seventh to ninth centuries. In later renderings of this period, three kings in particular – Songtsen Gampo, Trisong Detsen, and Ralpacan – are hailed as devout sponsors of Buddhism and identified as dharmara¯jas (religious kings) and bodhisattvas (awakened beings).4 Accordingly, the imperial period, when Tibet dominated vast tracts of Central Asia, is cast as a golden era of Buddhism’s efflorescence in Tibet, which can be recovered through the discovery and dissemination of treasures.5 Within the Nyingma school of Tibetan Buddhism,6 treasures are said to be buried by the eighth-century tantric master Padmasambhava (and other comparable figures)7 for future times of strife, chaos, and decline, when they will be revealed by a terto¨n or ‘‘treasure revealer’’ (gter ston).8 Known to Tibetans simply as Guru Rinpoche or ‘‘the precious teacher,’’ Padmasambhava came to be regarded as a second Buddha, credited with a seminal role in the early propagation of Buddhism in Tibet.9 Through the revelation of treasures, terto¨ns activate the benevolent foresight of Padmasambhava on behalf of their local communities as well as disciples, patrons, and devotees near and far. Since the eleventh century, treasure revelation has been an important mechanism for innovation in Tibet, introducing an enormous body of literature, considered to be scripture by Nyingma adherents and their sympathizers, and supplying a wide range of objects, including relics of eighth-century tantric masters, both Indian and Tibetan. On par with the canons of Buddhist scriptures translated mainly from Sanskrit, called the Kangyur and Tengyur, treasure revelation effectively produced an ‘‘open canon’’ and allowed for what Geary calls an ‘‘augmentation of the relic supply.’’10 Importantly, it has also functioned in Tibet as a means to

4 5 6

7

8

9

10

These kings are correlated respectively with the bodhisattvas Avalokites´vara, Man˜ jus´r¯ı, and Vajrapa¯ni. Kapstein, Tibetan Assimilation, p. 159, also makes this point. This chapter will focus on treasure revelation within the Nyingma school of Tibetan Buddhism, but it is important to note that treasures have been revealed on a more sporadic basis by prominent members of all schools (Smith, Among Tibetan Texts, pp. 239–40) and that the Bo¨n religion of Tibet has its own substantial treasure tradition (see, for example, Karmay, Treasury of Good Sayings; Martin, Unearthing Bon Treasures). Gyatso, ‘‘Logic of Legitimation,’’ p. 98 n. 2, and Doctor, Tibetan Treasure Literature, p. 198 n. 14, list names of other figures credited with concealing treasures. Elsewhere I discuss the terto¨n as a category of Buddhist saint. See my Introduction to Harding, Life and Revelations. On the role of Padmasambhava in the imperial period (historical and mythic), see Kapstein, Tibetan Assimilation, pp. 155–160. Geary, Furta Sacra, 18.

Ontology of the past and its materialization

215

legitimate religious authorities outside of existing monastic institutions.11 As charismatic figures, terto¨ns have served as the focal point of large-scale public rituals to disseminate their treasures, and their literary production became the basis of new ritual systems. The most successful terto¨ns gathered substantial followings, which formed into enduring religious communities, sometimes developing their own monastic seats and incarnation lines. Over the centuries, treasure revelation grew into a widespread movement throughout Tibetan and Himalayan areas and still continues today, playing a significant role in religious revival in Tibetan areas of present-day China. Due to what I am terming the ontology of the past, treasure revelation may not fit comfortably into the rubric of the ‘‘invention of sacred tradition,’’ if focused narrowly on the misattribution of sacred texts to historical figures (as outlined at the outset of this volume). By the ontology of the past, I mean that (1) historical time recedes into timelessness in Nyingma accounts of the transmission process that trace a set of teachings through eighthcentury masters to primordial buddhas, and (2) the past continues to have an enduring presence that can be evoked in rituals, experienced in visions, embodied in reincarnations, and materialized in tangible form as texts, images, and relics revealed as treasures. As such, through treasure revelation, terto¨ns are not just making historical claims about the source of particular texts and objects; they are claiming ontological access to the past, which is anchored in timelessness. Because of this ontology of the past, implicit in treasure revelation, it seems problematic to reduce the question of their authenticity to ‘‘matters of historical veracity,’’12 though by philological standards treasure texts may be considered apocryphal.13 Rather than assessing the veracity of authorial attribution per se, our purpose here will be to understand how claims by terto¨ns to religious authority have operated within their own social and cultural context. What we find in Tibet is not ‘‘invention’’ in the same fashion characterized by Hobsbawm, Ranger, and the contributors to their seminal volume, The Invention of Tradition, who were concerned mainly with secular rituals in the modern period and practices related to colonialism, the nation, and assertion of ethnic identity within it. In Weberian terms, the cases studied by 11

12 13

The terto¨n is a category of non-monastic religious specialist, and union with a consort is considered to be instrumental to the revelation process, helping to awaken the terto¨n’s visionary capacities. Gyatso, ‘‘Logic of Legitimation,’’ p. 106. A well-informed discussion of the appropriateness of applying the term ‘‘apocrypha’’ to treasures, can be found in Kapstein, ‘‘Purificatory Gem.’’ For a summary of Western scholars’ assessments of the historical veracity of treasures, see Gyatso, ‘‘Logic of Legitimation,’’ p. 103 n. 14.

216

HOLLY GAYLEY

Hobsbawm et al. involve the assertion of traditional authority, evoked through claiming a continuity of practices shown to be ‘‘largely factitious.’’14 The authority of the terto¨n, by contrast, is largely charismatic, drawing on a ‘‘source remote in time or timeless.’’15 In this case, a discontinuity on the historical plane is acknowledged and even promoted through prophecies enumerating the many signs of a degenerate era. At the same time, an underlying ontological continuity is asserted, which serves as the grounds for the terto¨n’s special access to the past. That continuity is represented by the treasure, sealed for posterity in the landscape to await retrieval. In order to act as innovators – introducing hitherto unknown scriptures and relics – terto¨ns reach back through an idealized, distant past to a timeless, transcendent authority. Therefore, in cases like this, we might more aptly consider ‘‘invention’’ to be a mechanism used to bridge time and space in order to introduce ritual systems, scriptures, images, or relics into a new context – whether or not their claimed roots in the past can be verified. If the invention of tradition is enlarged beyond the issue of textual attribution, it is possible to ask questions about various strategies and mechanisms used by religious figures to bridge time and space in order to draw on a ‘‘suitable historical past,’’16 which is constructed in the very process of accessing its authority. And in this vein, the rubric of invented tradition may prove to be a useful heuristic device to explore why and how traditions emerge at particular times and places.17 However, we must remain acutely aware that all claims to continuity with the past must be constructed, sometimes in the context of multiple religious systems with competing claims to authority, as was the case during the emergence of treasure revelation as a phenomenon in Tibet. In the following, we will examine the specific strategies and mechanisms through which treasure revelation has been asserted, defended, sanctioned, and institutionalized as a tradition. This will enable us to explore how terto¨ns claim, in a variety of ways, access to the past as well as the ability to materialize its presence on behalf of disciples and devotees. There are at least three distinct ways in which we can consider treasure revelation as a ‘‘tradition’’ in Tibetan and Himalayan regions: (1) as an effort on the part of the terto¨n to establish continuity with an authoritative 14 15

16 17

Hobsbawm, ‘‘Introduction,’’ p. 2. Shils, Center and Periphery, p. 129. On traditional and charismatic types of authority, see Weber, Economy and Society, I , pp. 212–301. Hobsbawm, ‘‘Introduction,’’ p. 1. Vlastos emphasizes the value of the ‘‘invention of tradition’’ as a heuristic device rather than as a sustainable theoretical category; see Vlastos, ‘‘Tradition,’’ p. 5.

Ontology of the past and its materialization

217

past removed in time and space; (2) as the consolidation of new lineages based on the literary legacy of individual terto¨ns; and (3) as the systematization of treasure revelation as a widespread movement through articulating typologies, composing defenses, standardizing lore, replicating idioms, and forming anthologies. This chapter explores each of these three ways in which the treasure revelation emerged as a tradition in Tibet, but the focus will remain on the first. In considering treasure revelation as an invented tradition, we will pay special attention to how the past has been constructed; how it has been materialized by terto¨ns in texts and objects; and how it remains vitally present for Tibetans up to the present day. Along the way, we will survey the social-historical factors that gave rise to and resulted from treasure revelation as an emergent movement. NYINGMA SENSE OF HISTORY

Since the attribution of authorship is one of the main rubrics of analysis for the invention of tradition in this volume, let us begin by examining how the authorship of treasure texts is framed. This will also afford us the opportunity to review Nyingma accounts of the transmission process that lend treasure texts their authority as scripture. The numinous origin of treasure texts is readily discernible through orthographic features that set them apart from other types of literature, including a special symbol at the end of each sentence that immediately conveys to the reader or anyone handling the text that it should be regarded as terma.18 Frequently, in treasure literature, the main body of the text is introduced and concluded in the first-person voice of Padmasambhava, whether or not he continues to act as an explicit narrator throughout. The opening lines specifically invoke his benevolent intention for the people living at the time and place of the terto¨n, followed by a seal of commitment, indicating that his intention is certain to be fulfilled in the future. In parallel fashion, at the conclusion of the text, the colophon recounts its concealment in the firstperson voice of Padmasambhava followed by an account of its revelation by the terto¨n.19 Despite the prominence of Padmasambhava’s voice throughout much of treasure literature, however, authorial ascription is complicated by several 18

19

This symbol consists of two small circles stacked with a horizontal line between them, called a tertsek (gter tsheg). A more detailed description of these framing devices can be found in my Introduction to Harding, Life and Revelations.

218

HOLLY GAYLEY

factors, including accounts of the transmission process and the composite nature of treasure collections. In considering the question of authorial attribution, we must contend with the visionary dimension of treasure revelation and the Nyingma sense of history, in which historical time recedes into symbolic and timeless spheres, where the origin point for a given transmission is identified. Ultimately, the origin of treasure literature is traced to the timeless domain of primordial buddhas in a complex theology of transmission particular to the Nyingma school. Accounts of the transmission process are found in short ‘‘histories’’ (lo rgyus) associated with individual ritual cycles, which describe how a set of teachings is conveyed through mental, symbolic, and linguistic medium in stages closely parallel to the trika¯ya theory of ‘‘three buddha bodies’’ (sku gsum), in which buddhas can take abstract, luminous, or physical form.20 Such accounts delineate a line of transmission beginning with a primordial buddha – in the case of Dzogchen or the ‘‘great perfection’’ (rdzogs chen) this is Samantabhadra – and entering the human plane through an accomplished master in India before being brought to Tibet by Padmasambhava (or a comparable figure) and hidden as treasure. The manner of this progression is characterized in Nyingma schemas as a diachronic descent (bka’ babs) via a ‘‘vertical line’’ of transmission.21 This is mirrored by a synchronic descent in the ritual arena when the presence of timeless beings is evoked liturgically and invited to inhabit images (both physical and visualized). The past is thus understood to recede diachronically into timelessness and also to remain accessible synchronically through ritual evocations. In further stages of the transmission process, terto¨ns are represented as having been in direct contact with Padmasambhava in a former lifetime as his disciple.22 This is an important aspect of the terto¨n’s special access to the source of a set of teachings. According to treasure theorist Jigme Tenpe Nyima (1865–1926), the third in an incarnation line of the Nyingma master Dodrupchen, each terto¨n received a set of teachings, to be encrypted as treasure, from Padmasambhava himself in a tantric initiation ceremony in which a ‘‘direct transference of wisdom’’ from master to disciple occurred.23 20

21 22

23

Here I will not go into the details of each phase of the transmission process, since they are discussed at length in Thondup, Hidden Teachings, and Gyatso, ‘‘Signs.’’ I borrow the term ‘‘vertical line’’ from Germano, ‘‘Seven Descents,’’ p. 248. Regarding these further stages of the transmission process, particular to treasure revelation, substantial variation can be found regarding their number and names. However, a standard version can be found in Thondup, Hidden Teachings. Ibid., p. 106.

Ontology of the past and its materialization

219

During this ceremony, as represented in Nyingma accounts, Padmasambhava appointed a specific disciple to reveal a set of teachings in the future and sealed it as a treasure in his or her mind. Thus the treasure is understood to be buried not only in the Tibetan landscape, but also in the mind-stream of the terto¨n during a former lifetime. Following this, the treasure is said to have been encoded in a symbolic script (brda yig) and transcribed on to yellow scrolls (shog ser), typically by Padmasambhava’s disciple and consort Yeshe Tsogyal, and finally entrusted to local deities as protectors and buried in the landscape. According to this schema, the process of revelation involves not only unearthing material objects but also reawakening the memory of the terto¨n, sometimes accompanied by visions in which he or she receives further instructions.24 The treasure does not take final shape as a set of narrative, ritual and doctrinal texts, later grouped as a cycle of teachings (chos skor), until the symbolic script on the yellow scrolls is decoded and transcribed by the terto¨n. In emic terms, a treasure cycle is thereby a product of visionary experience and recollection that is written down in final form by the terto¨n. The question of authorship is further complicated by the heterogeneous, accretive, and sometimes even collaborative nature of treasure collections (gter chos). A set of texts derived from a single discovery site typically consists of a ‘‘core text’’ (gzhung rtsa)25 that is then expanded by the terto¨n into a complete cycle of teachings, including narrative, doctrinal, and ritual components. This core text may be an abhis.eka (initiation ceremony) or sa¯dhana (means of attainment), which is supplemented by a cluster of manuals and liturgies necessary to initiate a disciple into the man.d.ala (sacred sphere) of a specific tantric deity. The attribution of this supplementary material is mixed: some of the texts are considered part of the treasure, and others are considered to be the terto¨n’s ordinary compositions. In addition, ritual elaborations may be added by direct disciples, subsequent incarnations, or lineage holders. These may be grouped with the original cycle or appended as a supplementary volume. In either case, the treasure collection of a single terto¨n generally includes a combination of revelations, ordinary compositions, and elaborations by others. Some treasure collections may also contain the revelations of more than one terto¨n.26 Moreover, the revelation process itself can be a collaborative effort. For example, in 24 25

26

The role of memory in treasure revelation is treated in Gyatso, ‘‘Signs.’’ Concerning the ‘‘core text’’ and the complexity of authorial ascription for the individual components of a cycle of treasure texts, see Gyatso, ‘‘Genre.’’ The Man.i Kabum is a prominent example of a treasure collection that contains the revelations of more than one terto¨n; see Kapstein, ‘‘Remarks.’’

220

HOLLY GAYLEY

the nineteenth century, Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo regularly assisted in the revelations of Chokgyur Lingpa, serving as scribe and sometimes even decoding and transcribing his yellow scrolls.27 Less well known is the phenomenon of collaboration between a couple, such as the contemporary terto¨ns Khandro Ta¯re Lhamo and Namtrul Jigme Phuntsok. EMERGENCE OF TREASURE REVELATION

At this juncture, let us turn to the emergence of treasure revelation as a phenomenon. Here we will see that the invention of tradition may be particularly evident during periods of contestation between religious systems or modes of authority. Treasure revelation emerged during an atmosphere of intense competition between existing lineages and new ritual systems brought from India during the ‘‘later propagation’’ (phyi dar) of Buddhism in Tibet during the late tenth to the twelfth century. Tibet’s empire had collapsed in 842 C E after the persecution of monastic Buddhism by Langdarma and his subsequent assassination. What followed has been characterized in Tibetan histories as a dark period of political fragmentation.28 By the end of the tenth century, a fresh impetus toward translation and ensuing influx of new scriptures stimulated the second major dissemination of Buddhism in Tibet. As a result, two broad groupings emerged: the Nyingma or ‘‘old school’’ (rnying ma), comprising diverse lineages surviving from the imperial period through the political fragmentation, and Sarma or ‘‘new schools’’ (gsar ma), consisting of nascent lineages based on new translations and renewed contact with Indian masters. Davidson has characterized this period as a renaissance in Tibetan culture, the salient features of which include the restoration of monastic Buddhism, proliferation of new translations, competition over the imperial legacy, and an emerging Buddhist orthodoxy.29 With this emerging orthodoxy, legitimation became a preoccupation for lineages both old and new, and accusations that texts and practices were of dubious authenticity were leveled against competing systems (with the Nyingma as a recurring target). Accusations against the Nyingma constellated around two issues: charges of degeneration in tantric praxis and questions over the authenticity of their scriptures, consisting of esoteric texts related to the practice of Dzogchen, 27 28

29

Doctor, Tibetan Treasure Literature, pp. 98–101. Samten Karmay argues that the period of political fragmentation following the dissolution of the Tibetan empire was a period of vitality for tantric movements, which had been regulated and restricted under the authority of Tibetan kings; see Karmay, Great Perfection, pp. 8–12. See Davidson, Tibetan Renaissance.

Ontology of the past and its materialization

221

and Maha¯yoga tantras for which no Sanskrit original could be found. The ¨, best-documented of these critiques came from the king of Purang, Yeshe O who was responsible for initiating the revival of monasticism in western Tibet. ¨ issued an ordinance (bka’ shog) just prior to 985 C E condemning Yeshe O what he regarded to be spurious doctrines and depraved practices under the guise of tantra.30 One of his complaints was that Tibetans were practicing tantric ritual in a literal manner, rather than treating its antinomian language as symbolic.31 While these accusations may have reflected the state of affairs at the time, a host of other factors contributed to the perception of the Nyingma tantras as spurious. During the 100-year hiatus of contact with India, significant changes in the character of Buddhist tantra in India had occurred, most notably the proliferation of yogin¯ı tantras.32 Since judgments about the authenticity of texts and practices were based on stylistic considerations and their conformity with an emerging orthodoxy,33 it is no wonder that the older Maha¯yoga system seemed out of step with the prevailing norm represented by new translations. In this milieu, treasure revelation can be seen, in part, as a response to critiques of doctrines and texts which the Nyingma traced to the early translation period. It offered the Nyingma a means to assert the superiority of their heritage, based on the glory of Tibet’s imperial past. Not surprisingly, treasure literature played an important role in the construction and consolidation of lore surrounding the imperial period as a golden era. Many of the widely accepted narratives depicting the origins of the Tibetan people, the introduction of Buddhism in Tibet by religious kings, and the status of Tibet as the special domain of Avalokites´vara, the bodhisattva of compassion, were elaborated in treasure texts.34 A growing body of narratives about this period appeared as treasures, including multiple hagiographies of Padmasambhava,35 who over time became a focal point of treasure lore. In the earliest of these, Padmasambhava is depicted translating and composing texts, tutoring the king Trisong Detsen closely, and traveling throughout Tibetan areas to consecrate the land through his

30 31

32 33 34

35

This ordinance has been studied and translated in Karmay, Arrow and the Spindle, pp. 9–13. See White, Alchemical Body and Kiss of the Yogin¯ı on the process of ‘‘domestication’’ in Hindu and Buddhist tantra vis-a`-vis their more antinomian facets. For a summary of scholarship to date on the emergence of yogin¯ı tantras, see English, Vajrayogin¯ı. See Karmay, Arrow and the Spindle, p. 70. Two of the most influential treasure texts in this regard are The Pillar Testament (Bka’ chems ka khol ma), a treasure regarded as a revelation by the Kadampa master Atis´a, and the Man.i Kabum (Man.i bka’ ‘bum), a collection of treasure texts attributed to the early king Songtsen Gampo. For an analysis of the hagiographies of Padmasambhava, see Blondeau ‘‘Analysis.’’

222

HOLLY GAYLEY

meditation practice.36 On the basis of this lore, the imperial period came to be viewed by Tibetans of all stripes – scholars, adepts, and laity, regardless of sectarian affiliation – as a golden era of Buddhism’s efflorescence, propagated by religious kings-cum-bodhisattvas. Narratives of the imperial period were disseminated in conjunction with a ritual complex that evokes the ongoing presence of the past in the lives of Tibetans. For example, the Tibetan king Songtsen Gampo, identified as an emanation of Avalokites´vara, acts as explicit narrator in the Man.i Kabum, a collection of treasure texts containing a host of liturgies and instructions related to the cult of Avalokites´vara and the recitation of his celebrated 37 mantra Om . Man.ipadme Hu¯m . . This mantra, which was promoted by Nyingma and Sarma masters alike, continues to be among the most popular recited by Tibetans still today. Moreover, the lore that consolidated around Padmasambhava was complemented by a proliferation of supplications and liturgies that call on him to bestow his blessings. Uniquely, Padmasambhava was elevated to a timeless occupant of his own pure land, the Copper-Colored Mountain (zangs mdog dpal ri) and, thus immortalized, remains accessible to ordinary Tibetans through prayer and ritual. Early terto¨ns positioned themselves as rightful heirs to the legacy of the imperial period in multiple ways.38 For example, one of the early and ¨ ser (1124–92), was the scion of an prominent terto¨ns, Nyangral Nyima O aristocratic family which descended from royal stock and a hereditary line of tantric masters.39 In this capacity, he claimed the inheritance of Nyingma teachings in three paradigmatic ways: as transmitted precepts passed down through the family; as a set of teachings delivered to him in a former life (as none other than the king Trisong Detsen), which he revealed as treasures; and in visions in which Nyangral received empowerments and instructions directly from Padmasambhava himself.40 Here we can see 36

37

38

39

40

The earliest such hagiography of Padmasambhava, known as the Zangs gling ma (translated in ¨ ser. Kunsang, Lotus Born), was revealed by Nyangral Nyima O On the content and arrangement of this collection, see Kapstein, ‘‘Remarks.’’ Phillips, Consummation and Compassion, discusses the influence of the early terto¨ns on the cult of Avalokites´vara in Tibet. This point has recently been taken up by Davidson, Tibetan Renaissance, and Phillips, Consummation and Compassion. Phillips, Consummation and Compassion, pp. 114–17, 131–3. The dates I have given for Nyangral are found in Phillips based on assessments by Leonard van der Kuijp and Matthew Kapstein. Elsewhere I rely on dates provided by Gene Smith in the Tibetan Buddhist Resource Center database, . For the editions of Nyangral’s hagiographies, see Phillips, Consummation and Compassion, p. 107 n. 7, repeated on p. 114 n. 25. These follow the three main types of transmissions in the Nyingma as noted by Jigme Tenpe Nyima (see Thondup, Hidden Teachings, 101): transmitted precepts (bka’ ma), treasures (gter ma), and pure visions (dag snang).

Ontology of the past and its materialization

223

an overdetermination of modes of legitimation, characteristic of representational strategies in the hagiographies of terto¨ns and perhaps more widely of invented traditions. In one of Nyangral’s hagiographies, we also see the idealization of the past in relation to a corrupt present. In defending the authenticity of Nyingma scriptures, the translations of the imperial period are cast as erudite endeavors sponsored by pious kings in contrast to translations of his own time period, which are decried as the products of charlatans motivated by greed for gold.41 Treasure revelation promises ongoing access to the inheritance of the imperial period in one of the most enduring tropes of treasure literature: that of decline and revival. Through this trope, the Nyingma were able to embrace the idea that the imperial period collapsed into a dark age and yet claim special access to its authority through treasure revelation.42 Paradigmatic in this regard is the widely circulated Chronicle of Padmasambhava (Pad ma bka’ thang), revealed by the fourteenth-century terto¨n Orgyan Lingpa.43 This treasure text contains a list of more than forty terto¨ns, each mentioned within a pithy verse of prophecy in the first-person voice of Padmasambhava. Each verse alludes to troubled times, rife with discord, disease, famine, schisms, desecration of temples, false treasures, broken vows, critiques of Dzogchen – and, relevant to Orgyan Lingpa’s own era, invasion by Mongols. Whatever the specific calamity, it is taken to be a sign heralding the appearance of a designated terto¨n at a specific discovery site. Here is an example: Now he will not endure, and after his nirvana, heresies, heinous crimes, and madness will multiply, and the echo of insults will permeate the dwellings of gods and men. Warned by these signs not to fail and to bring to light the treasure hidden at Shaug Tago, a Revealer will appear, Urgyen Terdag Lingpa.44

In this series of prophecies, once one terto¨n has passed into nirva¯n.a, another part of the Tibetan world dissolves into social turmoil, requiring the appearance of the next terto¨n. As a result, the original dark age following the fragmentation of Tibet’s empire becomes transposed into multiple 41 42

43

44

The relevant passage can be found in Nyang ral Nyi ma ‘od zer, Gsal ba’i me long, pp. 253 lines 2–6. Gyatso calls this a ‘‘dynamics of incursion,’’ which she defines as ‘‘an incursion of the primordial and authoritative past into the present moment of the degenerate age’’; see Gyatso, ‘‘Logic of Legitimation,’’ p. 132. The Chronicle of Padmasambhava has been translated into English in Douglas and Bays, Life and Liberation. Douglas and Bays, Life and Liberation, p. 629.

224

HOLLY GAYLEY

times and places. Implicitly, treasure revelation promises to serve as a regenerative force, restoring the inverse of the calamities listed in successive verses, namely peace, wellbeing, plentitude, harmony, sanctification, genuine religious teachings, respect for Nyingma doctrines, and flourishing of Buddhism – in short, the features of a new golden age. The original critique of decline among the ‘‘old school’’ was turned on its head as the centuries passed, such that treasure texts were represented as superior to those transmitted across the generations from master to disciple. According to the recent Nyingma scholar Jikdrel Yeshe Dorje (1904–88), better known as Dudjom Rinpoche, the disadvantage of a ‘‘distant transmission’’ (ring brgyud) of teachings passed from master to disciple is that they can be adulterated through interpolations, and the potency of their blessings can be diminished due to violations of tantric commitments (dam tshig). By contrast, because they have been sealed away, treasures are said to be protected from the vagaries of time and human foibles and thereby offer a ‘‘direct transmission’’ (nye brgyud) which is ‘‘unequalled in the splendour of their blessings.’’45 Treasures are thereby cast as both fresh and archaic at the same time, a key aspect of their success as invented traditions. While the terto¨n offers the inheritance of the past in an uncorrupted fashion, the so-called ‘‘new schools’’ – once their lineages had undergone routinization – are ironically cast in a state of decline originally assigned to tenth-century tantric communities. Here we can see the ontology of the past most saliently, since the trope of decline and revival is based on a disjunction in surface continuity (on the plane of historical time) and an underlying ontological continuity (accessible through the visionary talents of the terto¨n). Since this ontological continuity is most often accessed by terto¨ns through the discovery of objects in the landscape, the materiality of treasures became one of the grounds for those outside of the Nyingma lineage to question their authenticity. In one vociferous critique, treasure texts are given epithets like ‘‘earth teachings’’ (sa chos), ‘‘stone teachings’’ (rdo chos), and ‘‘water teachings’’ (chu chos), since they are said to be miraculously drawn from boulders, lakes, and other features of the landscape. The implication is that a set of teachings arising out of material elements would have no lineage, that is, an unbroken line of transmission back to a genuine source.46 In a witty rejoinder found in the earliest defense of treasures, Guru Cho¨wang (1212–70) responds that all 45 46

Dudjom Rinpoche, The Nyingma School, p. 745. Doctor, Tibetan Treasure Literature, p. 36, traces this critique to the early Drigung Kagyu master Jigten Go¨npo. It must have struck a nerve because it still finds mention approximately eight centuries later by Jigme Tenpe Nyima; see Thondup, Hidden Teachings, p. 168.

Ontology of the past and its materialization

225

Buddhist texts are composed of the five elements (earth, water, fire, wind, and space), since they rely on materials such as paper and ink, and the act of writing requires the hand to move through air.47 The appearance of such defenses, during the thirteenth to fifteenth centuries, demonstrates that treasure revelation was becoming a ‘‘well-defined movement.’’48 This period also witnessed a broad trend by Tibetans to systematize their Indian inheritance into versions of the canons, the Kangyur and Tengyur, a process which resulted in the exclusion of many Nyingma tantras and the formation of an alternative canon, called the Nyingma Gyubum.49 During this period, treasure revelation achieved a degree of standardization in terms of its lore, tropes, genres, strategies of representation, and modes of discovery and dissemination. At this juncture, we can speak of a treasure tradition using the term ‘‘tradition’’ in the sense of an enduring movement with shared characteristics. DISCOVERY AND RITUAL DISSEMINATION

On the ground, the authenticity of treasures was judged, not through an analysis of individual texts or the viability of the phenomenon as a whole, but according to the visionary aptitudes and miraculous powers of individual terto¨ns.50 As recounted in hagiographic literature, visions and miracles are both the means by which a terto¨n reveals treasures and the basis for his or her religious authority as an ‘‘emissary of Padmasambhava.’’51 Such powers are also taken to be signs of spiritual accomplishment and thereby enhance the status of a terto¨n as ritual virtuoso and charismatic centerpiece for an emerging religious community. Indeed, it is because terto¨ns are founders of new ritual systems and lineages that their claims of ontological access to the past were both asserted and challenged. So far we have looked at how the past has been constructed in accounts of the transmission process and narratives concerning the imperial period. Let us now turn to the ways in

47

48

49

50

51

Guru Chos kyi dbang phyug, Gter ‘byung chen mo, p. 106 line 6–p. 107 line 5. For a summary of Guru Cho¨wang’s extended response to this critique, see Gyatso, ‘‘Guru Chos-dbang’s Gter ‘byung chen mo’’, pp. 278–9. Gyatso, ‘‘Logic of Legitimation,’’ p. 99. In addition to Guru Cho¨wang’s Gter ‘byung chen mo, during this period similar surveys of treasure revelation (gter ‘byung) were composed by Longchenpa, Sangye Lingpa, and Ratna Lingpa. For an overview of the canonization process in Tibet, see Harrison, ‘‘Brief History.’’ Recent research on mainstream and alternative canons in Tibet can be found in Eimer and Germano, Many Canons. The process of authentication is specific to each terto¨n, involving a combination of sanction by a community of followers, the support of well-known religious figures, and endorsement by local political leaders, who may also serve as patrons. Gyatso, Apparitions, 147.

226

HOLLY GAYLEY

which the past remains vividly present through the discovery and ritual dissemination of treasures. First and foremost, in hagiographic literature, the terto¨n is represented as having ongoing access to figures of the past through visionary experience. As narrated, terto¨ns are guided by visions during all stages of the revelation process – from locating the discovery site to decoding the treasure. In hagiographic accounts, visions function to deflect agency and provide the terto¨n’s activities with the sanction of timeless beings and figures of the past, just as the authorial ascriptions and transmission accounts provide legitimations for their prolific literary production. Called stories of ‘‘complete liberation’’ (rnam thar), the hagiographies of terto¨ns contain a host of standard features, recounting the terto¨ns’ past lives, early visionary talents, self-doubts about their capacities, prophetic signs to confirm their role as terto¨ns, and miraculous events surrounding their revelations.52 Such accounts portray the presence of Padmasambhava and Yeshe Tsogyal as guiding forces in the revelation process, providing direction, encouragement, and instruction along the way. Through the discovery of treasures, terto¨ns make the ongoing presence of the past available to others in a myriad ways: at the site where a treasure is extracted, through the ritual content of a treasure cycle, and in the sacred objects revealed as part and parcel of a treasure cache. The discovery itself involves witnesses as direct beneficiaries of Padmasambhava’s compassionate foresight. The extraction of a treasure can be a private affair, witnessed by a handful of disciples, or a public event before an eager and sometimes skeptical crowd, called a ‘‘public treasure’’ (khrom gter). It often entails a miraculous feat, sometimes accomplished in a state of trance, such as scaling a cliff wall and reaching a hand into sheer rock.53 This feat may be performed as a dramatic spectacle, depicted in hagiographic literature as a confirmation of the terto¨ns’ special access to the past as embedded in the landscape. After the treasure’s extraction, the casket containing its contents is regarded as a powerful relic and immediately used to confer blessings on the onlookers, who by touching it to the top of their heads in a gesture of respect, in effect acknowledge the authenticity of the revelation.54 At a discovery site, the terto¨n anchors the pan-Himalayan lore of Padmasambhava to the local landscape, thereby sanctifying it as the locus 52 53

54

See Gyatso, Apparitions. An example of a miraculous feat performed in a trance (by the terto¨n Terdak Lingpa) can be found in Thondup, Hidden Teachings, pp. 78–9. On the function of the treasure casket (gter sgrom) as a relic, see Gayley, ‘‘Patterns.’’

Ontology of the past and its materialization

227

of his activities in the eighth century.55 The places where Padmasambhava is thought to have meditated and left markings such as a footprint in rock remain important pilgrimage sites where the potency of his blessings is sought. The entire Tibetan landscape is sometimes described as packed with treasures and charged with the blessings of Padmasambhava and his consort Yeshe Tsogyal. In a condensed version of her life story, Yeshe Tsogyal is quoted as saying: ‘‘In the land of Tibet – throughout the upper, lower and middle parts – there are limitless places where I practiced. There is not even a handful of earth that has not been blessed by me. Surely, in the future, treasures will pour forth in succession, and each will be extracted as a sign of truth.’’56 In this evocative passage, the whole of the Tibetan landscape is depicted as saturated with blessings, which nonetheless remain latent and require activation by terto¨ns.57 In the dissemination of treasures, a terto¨n evokes the presence of timeless beings and tantric masters of yore in order to transmit a set of teachings to disciples in a ritual context through mental, symbolic, and linguistic mediums akin to the original transmission.58 This is particularly important since treasure literature is predominantly ritual in content, while other genres such as narratives and instructions generally serve as a complement to ritual components within a treasure cycle and are clustered around a main initiation ceremony and liturgical materials necessary for an individual’s regime of meditation and spiritual advancement. In addition, tantric rituals with a soteriological focus are often followed by a host of mundane rites addressing the welfare of the local population, such as promoting longevity, ensuring a good harvest, or averting war. As such, ritual efficacy requires the ability (as deemed by participants) for a terto¨n to evoke the presence of timeless beings, harness the power of indigenous deities, and bestow blessings of past masters. Terto¨ns such as the Bhutanese master Pema Lingpa (1450–1521) have served as the focal point of large-scale public rituals to disseminate their treasures, 55

56

57

58

In the discovery of a treasure, the terto¨n may overlay a new association on to the matrix of meanings embedded in the landscape or harvest the meaning of a site already associated with Padmasambhava. This passage can be found in the well-known story of Yeshe Tsogyal, revealed by Taksham Nuden Dorje, which is available in two English translations, by Keith Dowman and the Padmakara Translation Group respectively. My translation comes from Padma ‘od gsal mtha’ yas Rig ‘dzin mkha’ ‘gro dgyes pa’i mchod sprin, p. 108, where it is quoted. In this case, the ongoing presence of Yeshe Tsogyal is accessible not only in the landscape but also through female terto¨ns identified as her emanations. The ubiquity of treasures also finds expression in a prophecy of Ratna Lingpa; see Smith, Among Tibetan Texts, p. 240. Thondup, Hidden Teachings, p. 108.

228

HOLLY GAYLEY

sometimes with a crowd of thousands in attendance. Called ‘‘public initiations’’ (khrom dbang), these rituals were the counterpart to the public discovery of treasures and sometimes follow shortly thereafter.59 The scale and duration of such gatherings varied, in this case, being two-tiered events in which a small gathering of ecclesiastics traveled from afar to attend an extensive ritual, followed by a shorter blessing ceremony attended by local dignitaries and a large assembly of people from the surrounding area.60 The charismatic appeal of terto¨ns must be explained, at least in part, by the importance of personal contact to the transmission process itself. Generally, direct contact is a requirement for the tripartite sequence of an initiation (dbang), reading authorization (lung), and instructions (khrid), which grants disciples access to esoteric tantric material, and it is also necessary for the dispersal of blessings from objects revealed as treasures, the topic of the next section. MATERIALIZATION OF CHARISMA

The ontology of the past is nowhere more evident than in objects revealed as treasures. Such objects are not merely artifacts of bygone times but a means to access, in the present, the continuing vitality of the past in material form.61 These objects include corporeal relics of eighth-century masters and relics of association, such as their clothing, strands of hair, ritual implements, and other belongings. Direct contact with relics and other treasure objects is eagerly sought out by Tibetans for the potency of their blessings or chinlab (byin rlabs).62 Precisely how, in the Tibetan context, blessings are understood to be invested in objects and then transferred to others through sensory contact has not yet been the subject of sustained academic inquiry.63 Nevertheless, seeking direct contact with relics and blessed objects is evident, for example, in the widespread practice of ingesting ritually produced and consecrated pills (ril bu), which go by various names, including in colloquial usage simply chinlab. A special potency and soteriological import, however, are ascribed to treasure objects. 59 60 61

62

63

It is more typical for terto¨ns to engage in a period of retreat before disseminating their treasures. Gayley, ‘‘Patterns.’’ Certain types of treasure objects (particularly relics, images, and ritual implements) can be regarded as ‘‘repositories of power’’ in terms similar to images and amulets in the Southeast Asian context, discussed in Tambiah, Buddhist Saints, p. 335. The Tibetan term for ‘‘blessings’’ (byin rlabs) is a translation of the Sanskrit adhis.t.ha¯na, where byin originally carried associations of royal power. Buddhist relics and image consecration have received considerable attention in the Southeast Asian context in the works of Tambiah, Gombrich, Swearer, Strong, and Trainor, among others. On consecration (rab gnas) in the Tibetan context, see Bentor, Consecration.

Ontology of the past and its materialization

229

Specific types of treasures are deemed so potent that they are said to liberate through direct contact via the senses. Due to space limitations, one example must suffice to represent a wider phenomenon in the treasure tradition that could aptly be termed a soteriology of the senses.64 A number of terto¨ns revealed a rare type of image considered to be a kutsab or ‘‘physical representative’’ (sku tshab)65 of Padmasambhava and credited with the power to ‘‘liberate through seeing’’ (mthong grol). The use of the term ‘‘representative’’ here implies that this type of image serves as a stand-in for Padmasambhava himself, as opposed to more common terms for images, such as ‘‘likeness’’ (sku ‘dra) or ‘‘physical support’’ (sku rten), that is, for the ritual investment of the presence of a buddha, bodhisattva, or tantric deity. Among the objects discovered by Terdak Lingpa (1646–1714) – some of which are on display today at Mindroling Monastery near Lhasa (see figure 11.1) – are images of this type, said to be crafted and consecrated by Padmasambhava himself. According to catalogues of kutsabs found in Terdak Lingpa’s corpus, this rare type of image is credited with a special potency due to the material used to fashion it, the relics inserted into the image, and its consecration by Padmasambhava himself. In one case, the clay used to make a kutsab is traced to sacred sites in India and Tibet, and its cavity is said to contain relics of masters to whom the Nyingma school traces the Indic origins of its lineage, such as Garab Dorje, S´r¯ı Sim . ha, and Vimalamitra, as well as strands of Padmasambhava’s own hair, among other sacred substances. Moreover, in the description of the consecration process, Padmasambhava’s body reportedly melted into the statue and then reemerged to bless it.66 A kutsab is thereby understood to be infused with Padmasambhava’s presence in a unique way, such that seeing it is comparable to meeting the ‘‘precious teacher’’ himself. According to one such catalogue (itself a treasure text), kutsabs are explicitly intended for the benefit of future generations in 64

65

66

In this soteriology of the senses, certain texts and objects discovered as treasure are credited with having the power to liberate through direct contact via the senses, which came to be categorized in various ways, including liberation through seeing, hearing, tasting, touching, wearing, and remembering. Note that early texts dedicated to liberation through one or other of the senses are found in fourteenth-century treasure collections, such as the Snying thig ya bzhi, Kar gling zhi khro, and Bla ma dgongs ‘dus, but the phenomenon can be found in all schools of Tibetan Buddhism. See Gayley, ‘‘Soteriology of the Senses.’’ A prominent example of a kutsab outside of the treasure tradition is the celebrated Jowo S´a¯kyamuni, housed in the Jokhang Temple in Lhasa. Thanks to Cameron Warner for bringing this to my attention. A translation of this passage and photographs of a number of kutsabs can be found in Thondup, Hidden Teachings. See catalogues describing the origins and contents of kutsabs revealed by Terdak Lingpa contained in his Collected Works, namely Mthong grol sku rten dkar chag (vol. 11, folios 124a–128b) and Gu ru’i sku tshab rnam gnyis kyi dkar chag ngo mtshar me long (vol. 12, folios 91a–93a) in Gter bdag gling pa, Gsung ’bum.

230

HOLLY GAYLEY

Figure 11.1 Kutsab on display at Mindroling Monastery (second row) (Photo: Holly Gayley)

degenerate times, so that the faithful can have the opportunity to gain ample merit by making offerings and prayers (as if) to Padmasambhava himself. Such an image serves in his stead as a ‘‘wish-fulfilling jewel that liberates through seeing’’ (mthong grol yid bzhin nor bu), promising a range

Ontology of the past and its materialization

231

of apotropaic and soteriological benefits for the individual who encounters it.67 Moreover, for the place where a kutsab is housed, its presence is said to create auspiciousness (bkra shis) and good fortune (skal bzang). Why has such potency been ascribed to treasure objects? Part of the answer is, of course, the charisma contained in relics and images due to their association with esteemed figures of the past. However, that is not sufficient reason to distinguish treasures from eighth-century objects passed down via human hands across the generations. It is because of their concealment that treasures are believed to circumvent the degenerative tendency ascribed to historical time in a Buddhist framework.68 This is explicit in the writings of terto¨ns, such as Guru Cho¨wang, who calls attention to the ‘‘enduring benefit’’ (‘gro don snyugs ring pa) of treasures as ‘‘objects and teachings that do not deteriorate whatsoever’’ (rdzas chos gang yang chud mi za ba).69 Likewise, the influential eighteenth-century terto¨n Jigme Lingpa, whose treasure called the Longchen Nyingtik remains a widely practiced corpus of ritual and esoteric instructions, explains the purpose of concealing treasures as follows: ‘‘to prevent the doctrine from disappearing, the teaching from being adulterated, and the power of blessing disappearing, and to shorten the lineage of transmission.’’70 While introducing hitherto unknown texts and objects, terto¨ns claim access to pristine teachings, unadulterated by human interpolations, and charged objects, whose blessings have yet to be dispersed. Thus, for Tibetans at different times and places, treasure revelation offers the promise of gaining direct access to sources of wisdom and blessings from their imperial past when Buddhism was first propagated in Tibet. Terto¨ns discovered a wide range of relics as treasures, thereby materializing the charisma of the figures from Tibet’s golden age as well as Indian saints regarded to be the fountainhead of Nyingma doctrine and practice. Though classified differently in typologies devised by terto¨ns,71 relics, images, and ritual implements have functioned as treasure objects in several similar ways. For example, images and relics discovered as treasures are frequently given as gifts to dignitaries, disciples, and potential patrons,

67

68 69 70

The promise of direct contact with this rare type of image is likened to a wish-fulfilling jewel that curtails illness and misfortune, increases one’s lifespan and wealth, wards off adversity, and enables the faithful to complete the two accumulations (of merit and wisdom) and thereby obtain liberation. Moreover, wherever such an image is housed, that place will be protected from plague and warfare and will be guaranteed a good harvest and cattle. See Gter bdag gling pa, Gsung ’bum, vol. 11, folios 127b line 5–128a line 2.) On Buddhist notions of times, see Nattier, Once Upon a Future Time. Guru Chos kyi dbang phyug, Gter ‘byung chen mo, p. 99 lines 2–4. Thondup, Hidden Teachings, p. 150. 71 See Doctor, Tibetan Treasure Literature.

232

HOLLY GAYLEY

including them as direct beneficiaries of the discovery process. In addition, images and ritual implements may be displayed in temples, on ritual occasions, and in private audiences. (However, the exhibition of such objects is also sometimes restricted in order to maintain their potency.) Moreover, treasure objects have been used to consecrate images and buildings. For example, among the items that Pema Lingpa chose to insert into a central image of Padmasambhava to consecrate his temple Tamzhing in present-day Bhutan were a statue of Vajrasattva, yellow scrolls from two of his treasures, pieces of Padmasambhava’s robes, relics from the Indian masters Man˜jus´r¯ımitra and Garab Dorje, soil from the eight charnel grounds of India, a tress of hair belonging to Princess Pemasel (daughter of Trisong Detsen), a turquoise image of the Buddha, various jewels, grains, medicines, and other substances.72 The use of such objects to consecrate images and buildings makes clear their function as relics imbued with charisma. Note that this is even true for the yellow scrolls, which initially gave rise to the textual portion of a treasure cache. Thus, in treasure objects, the past remains vitally present and potent, permeating the environment with blessings while holding out the promise of apotropaic and soteriological benefits for those who come into direct sensory contact with them. ROUTINIZATION AND REVIVAL

This chapter has so far been concerned with how terto¨ns claim religious authority based on their ability to materialize texts and objects traced to the eighth century and beyond. As time went on, however, terto¨ns themselves became a focal point in the construction of an authoritative past as founders of new lineages and the source of transmission for ritual cycles. Many treasure cycles initially circulated independently though multiple lines of transmission, becoming incorporated into already existing religious communities and sometimes taking on different permutations as local traditions of a single ritual complex were formed.73 Alternatively, the treasure corpus of a terto¨n was considered to contain a complete soteriological package and became the scriptural basis of a new religious

72 73

Padma gling pa, ‘Od zer kun mdzes, pp. 288–9. In a well-documented example, Cuevas, Hidden History, traces the diffusion and regional permutations of Karma Lingpa’s widely propagated treasure, entitled Self-Liberated Wisdom of the Peaceful and Wrathful Deities (Zab chos zhi khro dgongs pa rang grol).

Ontology of the past and its materialization

233

community. In this case, a new lineage – based on the treasures of a single terto¨n – was consolidated over time.74 The inauguration of new lineages followed typical lines of routinization in Tibet with the founding of monastic institutions, regularization of ritual practices, and sometimes the recognition of one or more incarnations (sprul sku). In addition, terto¨ns themselves remained an ongoing presence in the life of their religious community through their evocation in liturgies and the materialization of their charisma in relics. The valorization of past terto¨ns as a source of religious authority can be seen in efforts to preserve the tradition of treasure revelation as a whole. The nineteenth-century leaders of an ecumenical (ris med) movement in eastern Tibet, Jamgo¨n Kongtrul and Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo, gathered together texts and transmissions for a myriad treasure cycles and also retrieved lost treasures through special modes of revelations. Kongtrul compiled a sizable anthology of treasures, called the Treasury of Precious Terma (Rin chen gter mdzod), in which he included representative samples of different classes of ritual from the collections of wide-ranging terto¨ns. In a recent edition, this anthology contains 111 volumes, which nonetheless represent only a fraction of treasure literature as a whole.75 His collaborator in this endeavor, Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo, specialized in retrieving lost treasures and also reviving lineages where the texts survived but their transmission had fallen inactive (rendering them unusable in the ritual arena). Khyentse recovered revelations of former terto¨ns in less common modes of revelation, such as ‘‘rediscovered treasures’’ (yang gter), texts considered to be previously revealed and then reconcealed, and ‘‘recollected treasures’’ (rjes dran gyi gter) remembered from past lives. In this way, Khyentse claimed access to works associated with some of the earliest terto¨ns, including the elusive eleventh-century figure Sangye Lama, listed by Kongtrul as the first terto¨n, but about whom little is known. The valorization of early terto¨n as a source of religious authority can also be seen in critiques within the Nyingma school regarding the proliferation of new treasures (gter gsar) in contrast to old treasures (gter rnying). This had been a concern since at least the seventeenth century, when Tsele

74

75

This process is akin to Weber’s ‘‘routinization of charisma,’’ whereby charismatic authority is transformed into traditional authority as the legacy of a charismatic leader is institutionalized. Jam mgon kong sprul, Rin chen gter mdzod chen mo. Kongtrul also distilled the hagiographies of more than 170 terto¨ns into The Lives of the One Hundred Terto¨ns (Gter ston brgya rtsa’i rnam thar). On the contents and arrangement of The Treasury of Precious Terma (Rin chen gter mdzod), see Gyatso, ‘‘Drawn from the Tibetan Treasury.’’

234

HOLLY GAYLEY

Natshok Rangdrol despaired that ‘‘so-called new termas . . . nowadays proliferate like mushrooms on a summer meadow.’’76 Better known is a biting satire of new treasures proliferating in eastern Tibet by the renowned Nyingma scholar Ju Mipham (1846–1912), entitled The Gem that Clears the Waters: An Investigation of Treasure Revealers.77 In it, Mipham warns of the dangers of false terto¨ns and condemns some of the excesses of treasure revelation in his day, such as misusing prophecies to gain patrons and consorts. Although he acknowledges that a genuine treasure has great blessings due to its direct line of transmission, Mipham warns that its ability to ‘‘ripen and liberate’’ (smin grol) disciples through a tantric initiation and subsequent ritual regiment relies too heavily on the terto¨n’s own degree of accomplishment. Because it is difficult to discern the signs of accomplishment in another, Mipham recommends instead that ordinary people rely on established religious authorities to discern genuine terto¨ns from charlatans, thereby introducing some criterion for quality control. Such critiques, however, did not curb the enthusiastic proliferation of treasure revelation during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The treasure tradition thrived in Tibet until the Chinese invasion in 1950, and terto¨ns have played a significant role in religious revival in Tibetan regions of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) since the 1980s. Religious revival has depended on reestablishing lineages and other forms of continuity with the past despite dramatic rupture in all aspects of religious life in Tibetan areas, as elsewhere in China during the Maoist period, particularly the Cultural Revolution (1966–76). This period witnessed the destruction of monasteries, burning of texts, pillaging of images, loss of religious authorities (many high lamas fled or died in prison), suppression of religious practice, and desecration of sacred objects and sites. The ontological claims of treasure revelation offered terto¨ns a unique way to assert continuity with the past after this period of devastation. Recall that treasure revelation activates the blessings of Padmasambhava and Yeshe Tsogyal, latent in the landscape, and makes available the enduring presence of the past. In the hagiography of one such terto¨n, Khandro Ta¯re Lhamo, we see an explicit claim to a new efflorescence of Buddhism promised by treasure revelation. In it, the onset of China’s policy of ‘‘reform and opening’’ (gaige kaifang) in 1978–9 is retrospectively proclaimed to be ‘‘the dawn of a new day in the meritorious sky of the snowy land [Tibet] for a renewed

76 77

Kunsang, Lotus Born, p. 14. This text has been elegantly translated in Doctor, Tibetan Treasure Literature.

Ontology of the past and its materialization

235

propagation of the [Buddhist] teachings.’’78 The key term here is yangdar. The term yang means simply ‘‘again,’’ and dar means ‘‘propagation,’’ the same term used in the standard periodization of Tibetan history into early and later propagations of Buddhism. The term yangdar thus signals a third major diffusion of Buddhism in Tibet, a ‘‘renewed propagation’’ after a dark age associated with the Maoist period. The longstanding trope of decline and revival has thus provided an idiom through which contemporary terto¨ns and their followers could conceive of a Buddhist revival. Since the 1980s, terto¨ns have been avid participants in the widespread endeavor to rebuild Buddhist institutions,79 lending their visionary talents to the process in unique ways, particularly by activating sacred sites lost to memory and linking them to the roots of Tibetan identity in its imperial past. One of the most influential figures in this revival has been the terto¨n Khenpo Jigme Phuntsok (1933–2004),80 who was responsible for reactivating pilgrimage networks through visions and past-life recollections, for infusing indigenous myths with new vitality, and for founding a Buddhist academy in remote Serta in Sichuan Province that has trained a new generation of cleric-scholars, now populating Tibetan monasteries within the PRC and also abroad in Nepal and India.81 Given the relevance of treasure revelation to contemporary Tibetans within the PRC and among diaspora communities, I would like to conclude by emphasizing the importance of maintaining methodological agnosticism toward transcendent or ontological claims when treating the ‘‘invention of sacred tradition.’’ One of the pressing issues at stake for Tibetans today is cultural survival, which is predicated on their ability to maintain an indigenous episteme in the face of persistent ideological challenges. The issue of cultural survival is explicitly raised by Khenpo Jigme Phuntsok in his provocative but relatively unknown work, Advice to Tibetans for the 21st Century,82 in which he calls for the preservation of Tibetan 78

79

80

81

82

The passage reads: ‘‘gangs ljongs bsod nams kyi mkha’ la yang dar bstan pa’i nyi gzhon shar ba’’ (Padma ‘od gsal mtha’ yas, Rig ‘dzin mkha’ ‘gro dgyes pa’i mchod sprin, p. 145). Broadly this revival has consisted of rebuilding temples and monasteries, reprinting texts, training a new generation of monks (and to a lesser degree nuns), and re-sanctifying the landscape by building stu¯pas, engraving stones with mantras, burying treasure vases, and erecting prayer flags. The monastic Khenpo Jigme Phuntsok is to be distinguished from Namtrul Jigme Phuntsok (b. 1944), husband of Khandro Ta¯re Lhamo (1938–2002). See Germano, ‘‘Re-membering,’’ for a study of the activities of Khenpo Jigme Phuntsok. Germano credits this contemporary lama with nothing less than ‘‘stemming the flow of authority and value toward Chinese modernity, on the one hand, and refugee Tibetan communities, on the other’’ (p. 57). For a study on this text, Dus rabs nyer gcig pa’i gangs can pa rnams la phul ba’i snying gtam (no publication information), see Gayley, ‘‘Ethics of Cultural Survival.’’

236

HOLLY GAYLEY

language, erudition, and customs, likening them to the ‘‘life force’’ (srog) of a people, without which they are no longer a discrete nationality (mi rigs). As scholars of religion, to impose an episteme – whether we call it empiricist, scientific, or Western – in judging the validity of religious phenomena, such as treasure revelation, has political implications, since the invention of tradition may be used as a hegemonic or counter-hegemonic strategy. It is worth quoting Vlastov on this point: When ‘‘invention’’ is narrowly construed as artifice, the possibility of a legitimate exercise of agency is erased, leaving only manipulation and mystification. Quite apart from producing boring history, such a reading entails real political costs. As Arif Dirlik recently noted in relation to the history making of indigenous peoples, a theoretical position that ignores the social conditions of the production and reception of invented traditions (and other tropes of identification) denies to marginal and oppressed populations legitimate recourse to the authority of the past in their ongoing struggle to fashion counterhegemonic cultural identities.83

To the extent to which scholars participate in exposing or debunking ‘‘other people’s myths,’’84 we are in danger of perpetuating an orientalist legacy as the handmaiden of colonialism and neo-colonialism, whether American, European, or Chinese. If employed with this proviso, the rubric of invented tradition may be well suited to highlight indigenous agency in efforts to reconstitute the past in the quest for cultural survival or in pursuit of political agendas. With regard to the Tibetan context, Goldstein cautions that religious revival should not be regarded as ‘‘a spontaneous resurrection of beliefs.’’ Rather, we need to recognize efforts to reconstitute the past as a ‘‘dynamic process of adaptation’’ from ‘‘the matrix of beliefs and practices that comprise Tibetan Buddhism.’’85 This entails grafting ‘‘new’’ meanings on to ‘‘old’’ practices in the process of restoring them, not to mention deciding which doctrines and practices receive the most emphasis and resources. More generally, in the contemporary context, a nuanced view of ‘‘invention’’ could also highlight the complex ways in which religious figures across traditions appropriate the past in response to the specific challenges posed by secular values and its competing modes of authority. In Tibetan areas of the PRC, terto¨ns are in a unique position to reconstitute the past, and with it a sense of Tibetan identity, as well as perhaps to articulate an explicitly Buddhist vision of modernity that is rooted in the glory of Tibet’s imperial past. 83 84 85

Vlastos, ‘‘Tradition,’’ 5. I borrow this term from the title of Wendy Doniger’s well-known book Other People’s Myths. Goldstein, in his Introduction to Goldstein and Kapstein, Buddhism, pp. 10–11.

Ontology of the past and its materialization

237

REFERENCES

Bentor, Yael, Consecration of Images and Stu¯pas in Indo-Tibetan Tantric Buddhism (Leiden: Brill, 1997). Blondeau, Anne-Marie, ‘‘Analysis of the Biographies of Padmasambhava according to Tibetan Tradition,’’ in Michael Aris and Aung San Suu Kyi (eds.), Tibetan Studies in Honour of Hugh Richardson (Warminster: Aris & Phillips, 1980), pp. 45–52. Cabezo´n, Jose´, and Roger Jackson (eds.), Tibetan Literature: Studies in Genre (Ithaca, NY: Snow Lion Publications, 1996). Chos kyi dbang phyug, Guru. ‘‘Gter ‘byung chen mo,’’ in The Autobiography and Instructions of Gu-ru Chos-kyi-dban.-phyug (Paro: Ugyen Tempai Gyaltsen, 1979), I I , pp. 75–193. Cuevas, Brian, The Hidden History of the Tibetan Book of the Dead (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003). Dargyay, Eva, The Rise of Esoteric Buddhism in Tibet (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1977). Davidson, Ronald, Indian Esoteric Buddhism (New York: Columbia University Press, 2002). Tibetan Renaissance: Tantric Buddhism in the Rebirth of Tibetan Culture (New York: Columbia University Press, 2005). Davidson, Ronald, and Steven Goodman (eds.), Tibetan Buddhism: Reason and Revelation (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1992). Doctor, Andreas, Tibetan Treasure Literature: Revelation, Tradition, and Accomplishment in Visionary Buddhism (Ithaca, NY: Snow Lion Publications, 2005). Doniger, Wendy, Other People’s Myths: The Cave of Echoes (New York: Macmillan, 1995). Douglas, Kenneth, and Gwendolyn Bays, The Life and Liberation of Padmasambhava (Emeryville, CA: Dharma Publishing, 1978). Dudjom Rinpoche Jikdrel Yeshe Dorje, The Nyingma School of Tibetan Buddhism: Its Fundamental and History, trans. Gyurme Dorje and Matthew Kapstein (Boston, MA: Wisdom Publications, 1991). Eimer, Helmut, and David Germano (eds.), The Many Canons of Tibetan Buddhism (Leiden: Brill, 2002). English, Elizabeth, Vajrayogin¯ı: Her Visualization, Rituals, and Forms (Boston, MA: Wisdom Publications, 2002). Gayley, Holly, ‘‘The Ethics of Cultural Survival: Defining ‘Tibetanness’ in Mkhan po’ Jigs phuns’s Advice to Tibetans for the 21st Century,’’ paper presented at the 11th Seminar of the International Association of Tibetan Studies held in Bonn, August 27–September 2, 2006 (forthcoming in the conference proceedings). ‘‘Patterns in the Ritual Dissemination of Padma gling pa’s Treasures,’’ in John Ardussi and Franc¸oise Pommaret (eds.), Bhutan: Traditions and Change (Leiden: Brill, 2007). ‘‘Soteriology of the Senses in Tibetan Buddhism,’’ paper presented at the American Academy of Religion conference held in Washington, DC, on November 18–21, 2006 (forthcoming in Numen).

238

HOLLY GAYLEY

Geary, Patrick, Furta Sacra: Theft of Relics in the Central Middle Ages (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1978). Germano, David, ‘‘Re-membering the Dismembered Body of Tibet,’’ in Goldstein and Kapstein, Buddhism, pp. 53–94. ‘‘The Seven Descents and the Early History of Rnying ma Transmission,’’ in Eimer and Germano, Many Canons, pp. 225–63. Germano, David, and Kevin Trainor (eds.), Embodying the Dharma: Buddhist Relic Veneration in Asia (Albany: State University of New York Press, 2004). Goldstein, Melvyn, and Matthew Kapstein (eds.), Buddhism in Contemporary Tibet: Religious Revival and Cultural Identity (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1998). Gter bdag gling pa ‘Gyur med rdo rje, Smin gling gter chen ‘gyur med rdo rje’i gsung ‘bum (Dehra Dun: D. G. Khochhen Tulku, 1998). Gyatso, Janet, Apparitions of the Self: The Secret Autobiographies of a Tibetan Visionary (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1998). ‘‘Drawn from the Tibetan Treasury: The gTer ma Literature,’’ in Cabezo´n and Jackson, Tibetan Literature, pp. 147–69. ‘‘Genre, Authorship, and Transmission in Visionary Buddhism: The Literary Traditions of Thang-stong rGyal-po,’’ in Davidson and Goodman, Tibetan Buddhism, pp. 95–106. ‘‘Guru Chos-dbang’s Gter ‘byung chen mo: An Early Survey of the Treasure Tradition and its Strategies in Discussing Bon Treasure,’’ in Per Kvaerne (ed.), Tibetan Studies: Proceedings of the 6th Seminar of the International Association for Tibetan Studies, Fagernes 1992, 2 vols. (Oslo: Institute for Comparative Research in Human Culture, 1994), I , pp. 275–87. ‘‘The Logic of Legitimation in the Tibetan Treasure Tradition,’’ History of Religions 33/1 (1993), pp. 97–134. ‘‘Signs, Memory and History: A Tantric Buddhist Theory of Scriptural Transmission,’’ Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies 9/2 (1986), pp. 7–35. Harding, Sarah, The Life and Revelations of Pema Lingpa (Boulder, CO: Snow Lion Publications, 2003). Harrison, Paul, ‘‘A Brief History of the Tibetan bKa’ ‘gyur,’’ in Cabezo´n and Jackson, Tibetan Literature, pp. 70–94. Hobsbawm, Eric, ‘‘Introduction: Inventing Traditions,’’ in Eric Hobsbawm and Terence Ranger (eds.), The Invention of Tradition (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983). Huber, Toni, The Cult of Pure Crystal Mountain: Popular Pilgrimage and Visionary Landscape in Southeast Tibet (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999). ‘Jam mgon kong sprul Blo gros mtha’ yas, Rin chen gter mdzod chen mo (Paro: Ngodrup & Sherap Drimay, 1976). Kapstein, Matthew, ‘‘The Purificatory Gem and Its Cleansing: A Late Tibetan Polemical Discussion of Apocryphal Texts,’’ History of Religions 28/3 (1989), pp. 217–44.

Ontology of the past and its materialization

239

‘‘Remarks on the Mani bka’–‘bum and the Cult of Avalokites´vara in Tibet,’’ in Davidson and Goodman, Tibetan Buddhism, pp. 79–93. ‘‘The Royal Way of Supreme Compassion,’’ in Donald Lopez (ed.), Tibetan Religions in Practice (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1997). The Tibetan Assimilation of Buddhism: Conversion, Contestation, and Memory (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000). Karmay, Samten, The Treasury of Good Sayings: A Tibetan History of Bon (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1972). Karmay, Samten, The Arrow and the Spindle: Studies in History, Myths, Rituals, and Beliefs in Tibet (Kathmandu: Mandala Book Point, 1998). The Great Perfection (rDzogs chen): A Philosophical and Meditative Teaching in Tibetan Buddhism (Leiden: Brill, 1988). Kunsang, Erik Pema, The Lotus Born: The Life Story of Padmasambhava (Boston, MA: Shambhala Publications, 1999). Martin, Dan, Unearthing Bon Treasures: Life and Contested Legacy of a Tibetan Scripture Revealer (Leiden: Brill, 2001). Nattier, Jan, Once Upon a Future Time: Studies in a Buddhist Prophecy of Decline (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1991). Nyang ral Nyi ma ‘od zer, Bka’ brgyad bde gshegs ‘dus pa’i gter ston myang sprul nyi ma ‘od zer gyi rnam thar gsal ba’i me long, in Bka’ brgyad bde gshegs ‘dus pa’i chos skor (Paro: Ngodrup, 1979), I I , pp. 199–381. Padma gling pa, Gter ston rgyal po, Bum thang gter ston padma gling pa’i rnam thar ‘od zer kun mdzes, in Rig ‘dzin padma gling pa yi zab gter chos mdzod rin po che (Thimpu: Kunsang Tobgay, 1975), X I V , pp. 3–510. Padma ‘od gsal mtha’ yas, Skyabs rje nam sprul rin po che ‘jigs med phun tshogs dang mkha’ ‘gro ta¯ re lha mo mchog gi rnam thar rig ‘dzin mkha’ ‘gro dgyes pa’i mchod sprin (Chengdu: Sichuan Nationalities Publishing House, 1997). Phillips, Bradford, ‘‘Consummation and Compassion in Medieval Tibet: The Mani bka’-‘bum chen-mo of Guru Chos-kyi dbang-phyug’’ (PhD dissertation, University of Virginia, 2004). Shils, Edward, Center and Periphery: Essays in Macrosociology (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1975). Smith, Gene, Among Tibetan Texts: History and Literature of the Himalayan Plateau (Boston, MA: Wisdom Publications, 2001). Strong, John, ‘‘Relics,’’ in Mircea Eliade (ed.), The Encyclopedia of Religion (New York: Collier Macmillan, 1987), X I , pp. 275–82. Tambiah, Stanley, Buddhist Saints of the Forest and the Cult of Amulets (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1984). Thondup, Tulku, Hidden Teachings of Tibet (Boston, MA: Wisdom Publications, 1997). Trainor, Kevin, Relics, Ritual, and Representation in Buddhism: Rematerializing the Sri Lankan Therava¯da Tradition (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997). Vlastos, Stephen, ‘‘Tradition: Past/Present Culture and Modern Japanese History,’’ in Stephen Vlastos (ed.), Mirror of Modernity: Invented Traditions of Modern Japan (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1998).

240

HOLLY GAYLEY

Wangdu, Pasang, and Hildegard Diemberger, dBa’ bzhed: The Royal Narrative Concerning the Bringing of the Buddha’s Doctrine to Tibet (Vienna: Verlag der ¨ sterreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, 2000). O Weber, Max, Economy and Society, 2 vols. (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1978). Wedemeyer, Christian, A¯ryadeva’s Lamp that Integrates the Practices (Carya¯mela¯pakaprad¯ıpa): The Gradual Path of Vajraya¯na Buddhism according to the Esoteric Community Noble Tradition (New York: AIBS/ Columbia University Press, 2007). White, David Gordon, The Alchemical Body (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1996). Kiss of the Yogin¯ı (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2003).

CHAPTER

12

Pseudo-Dionysius: the mediation of sacred traditions Kevin Corrigan and Michael Harrington

INTRODUCTION: FORGERY AND ORIGINALITY

Dionysius, or Pseudo-Dionysius, as he has come to be called, was an unknown person who wrote in the late fifth or early sixth century C E and who transposed in a thoroughly original way the whole of Pagan Neoplatonism from Plotinus to Proclus into a distinctively new Christian context. Since he represented himself as St. Dionysius the Areopagite, an Athenian member of the judicial council, the Areopagus, who was converted instantly by St. Paul, his work, strictly speaking, might be regarded as a successful ‘‘forgery,’’ providing him with impeccable Christian credentials that conveniently antedated Plotinus by over 200 years. Dionysius’ fictitious identity was first seriously called into question by Lorenzo Valla in 1457 and John Grocyn in 1501, a critical viewpoint later accepted and publicized by Erasmus from 1504 onward. But only in modern times has it become generally accepted that instead of being the disciple of St. Paul, Dionysius must have lived in the time of Proclus, and was perhaps of Syrian origin, someone who knew enough of Platonism and the Christian tradition to transform them both. So he has come to be known as Pseudo-Dionysius, that is, a kind of counterfeit representation or forgery of a supposed original. ‘‘Forgery,’’ however, is a modern notion, from the Anglo-French verb forger, ‘‘to falsify or counterfeit’’ (and more distant still from the Latin fabricari), whose usage is first attested in 1574. Originality is, at least in part, a modern pathology, which is why postmodernism has striven so vigorously to kill it stone dead. But in vain, since virtual images do not so easily give up their ghosts, and we continue to be plagued by originality’s cousins – copyright, forgery, counterfeit currency, and plagiarism. By and large, the ancient world seems to have had a different attitude. Presumably, even there too, everyone entitled to credit wanted it badly. But the surviving evidence also suggests a very different atmosphere. The 241

242

KEVIN CORRIGAN AND MICHAEL HARRINGTON

ancient Pythagoreans, for example, took plagiarism in the other direction, as if brilliant physicists of the twenty-first century were to attribute their work to Einstein, Newton, or Copernicus – an appeal to authority, one might argue, on a grand scale, but entirely unnecessary. The Pythagoreans attributed their own brightest words and discoveries to their master, Pythagoras, a shadowy figure of whom we know precisely nothing. Autos epha – ‘‘he said so’’ – they insisted, putting their own thoughts into the master’s persona. In Plato’s dialogues, again, the various Greek words for ‘‘counterfeit’’ never mean ‘‘counterfeit’’ of Socrates or even Plato, but always counterfeit of the genuine article, namely, the ‘‘true,’’ as the famous dictum attributed to Aristotle, ‘‘a friend to Plato, but a greater friend of the truth,’’ so appropriately epitomizes. But what the ‘‘truth’’ is in any of Plato’s dialogues turns out to be a very difficult business indeed, especially once one starts wondering about Plato’s myths, or the ‘‘figure’’ of Socrates, and the inevitable, surely intentional anachronisms that happily, even conspicuously, seem to inhabit so many dialogues.1 Which is truer: fact or fiction? Socrates in the Republic even goes so far as to suggest that it is necessary to tell the citizens of his as yet imaginary polis ‘‘a noble lie’’2 in order to help them give up their attachment to older class-bound or clan-bound systems of thought. The very nature of art, somewhat later for Horace, is deceptive. Of Homer he observes: ‘‘and so he lies and mingles false things with true.’’ Much later again, in late antiquity (362 to be precise), the emperor, Julian the Apostate – a born-again pagan – tried to divorce the growing organic unity between pagan philosophy and Christianity (not unlike Tertullian in the second century or Jerome in the fourth). Julian’s legislation would have found many advocates in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries; Christian rustics (Porphyry’s phrase), after all, should not be able to appreciate Homer, Plato, and Euripides. Gregory of Nazianzus replied to Julian that if hellenizein necessarily includes worshiping the gods, then Christians cannot hellenizein, but if the word simply means speaking Greek and sharing a common culture, then Julian should have no particular competence to pronounce on the matter.3 To be or to speak Greek is not a matter of narrow territory, but a question of common heritage. To 1

2 3

E.g., in the Symposium, Aristophanes’ mention of the dispersement of the Mantineans by the Spartans ¨ ber die in 385 B C E when the events of the Symposium are supposedly before 399 B C E . See Zeller, U Anachronismen, pp. 79–99; Mattingly, ‘‘Date of Plato’s Symposium,’’ pp. 31–9. Republic 414b. See Gregory Nazianzus, Orations 4 and 5; see also Meredith, Cappadocians, pp. 115–16.

Pseudo-Dionysius

243

borrow from one portion of that heritage is not to falsify or to forge an illicit identity. Such freedom within a common heritage is what we seem to have, above all, in Pseudo-Dionysius, but this is more than a question of simple freedom: it is rather an acknowledgment of reception, of being part of a much bigger tradition in which the word of God does not arrive simply prepackaged or in a simple, serial continuity with strict chronological divisions, for the quality of that word bridges times and places and fills the present time with a new sense of the pervasive synchronicity of all times. Dionysius does not claim to be an innovator, but rather a communicator of a tradition. Dionysius’ works, therefore, are much less a forgery in the modern sense than an acknowledgment of reception and transmission as well as an effacement of authorial identity. Dionysius represents his own teaching as coming from a certain Hierotheus and as being addressed to a certain Timotheus. He conceives of himself, therefore, as an in-between figure, very like a Dionysius the Areopagite, that is, someone who finds himself in between two cultures or worldviews, simultaneously caught in the collision between them and yet instantaneously bridged by a recognition of something broader still, something that lived before the collision and that presumably lives on through it. THE MEDIATION OF SACRED TRADITIONS

The works inscribed with the name of Dionysius the Areopagite appeared at some time between two pivotal moments for Greek Christianity: the Council of Chalcedon in 459 and the closing of public schools to nonChristian teachers in 529. The Council of Chalcedon intended to provide an authoritative answer to the question of whether Christ had one nature or two, but instead exacerbated the conflict between partisans of the two positions. Justinian’s closing of the schools answered the question of whether Christians had anything to learn from Hellenists, and vice versa, by ending the living conversation between the two sides. Henceforward the Hellenic position would move underground, and its philosophical texts would circulate often through quotations and paraphrases in the work of Christian authors. The Dionysian corpus is one such set of works, containing unacknowledged paraphrases and quotations of Hellenic authors such as Plotinus and Proclus, and using a more generally Greek philosophical language stretching back to Plato and Parmenides. The corpus identifies its author as Dionysius the Areopagite, the Athenian convert of the apostle Paul, but

244

KEVIN CORRIGAN AND MICHAEL HARRINGTON

the author’s true identity may never be known. Candidates range from Peter the Iberian and Peter the Fuller in the fifth century to Severus of Antioch, John of Scythopolis, and Damascius Diadochus in the sixth, but none of them has gained wide acceptance among scholars.4 The date of composition for the corpus can be pinned down with more precision than the identity of its author. Josef Stiglmayr and Hugo Koch showed in 1895 that the corpus had to be composed during or after the adult lifetime of the Neoplatonist philosopher Proclus (411–85), from whom its author borrowed his or her discussion of evil in On the Divine Names.5 Very likely the earliest surviving citations of the Dionysian corpus are to be found in the treatises written by Severus of Antioch in his dispute with Julian of Halicarnassus, both of them opponents of Chalcedon. The treatises, which contain two references to the Dionysian corpus and were translated into Syriac by Paul of Callinicus in 528, have emerged as the best source in determining the latest possible date of composition for the corpus.6 The treatises’ original date of composition is unclear, but it could not have been more than ten years prior to their translation, as Severus composed them while in Alexandria, and he did not go into exile there until 518. So we can say with confidence that the corpus circulated publicly by 528. Paul Rorem and John Lamoreaux have suggested that the date of composition ought to be sought as near as possible to the date of the corpus’s first appearance, since ‘‘it is hard to imagine that the corpus would have left no mark for decades, or that an author as resourceful as the mysterious Dionysius would not have made sure that his work was ‘discovered’ sooner rather than later.’’7 If their suggestion is correct, then the date of composition for the Dionysian corpus, too, ought to be put close to 528. We might expect an author in such a period to use a pseudonym in order to gain false authority. One has only to read the texts of disputes between the Chalcedonians and the Monophysites to see how many invented texts ascribed to venerable authors were at play in the controversy. For example, the record of the seventh-century dispute between Maximus the Confessor and the Monothelite bishop Theodosius mentions texts claimed by Theodosius to be the work of Julius of Rome, Gregory Thaumaturge, 4

5 6

7

Some fourth-century candidates once proposed by scholars can be ruled out now that the corpus has been dated more precisely. For a thorough treatment of the authorship question, see Hathaway, Hierarchy, pp. 31–5. Stiglmayr, ‘‘Der Neuplatoniker Proclus’’; Koch, ‘‘Proklus als Quelle.’’ See Draguet, Julien d’Halicarnasse, p. 73. Our account of the dating of the Dionysian corpus derives from the more thorough account of Rorem and Lamoreaux in John of Scythopolis, pp. 9–15. Ibid., p. 11.

Pseudo-Dionysius

245

Athanasius, John Chrysostom, and Cyril of Jerusalem. Maximus shows to Theodosius’ own satisfaction that some of these texts derive from the work of Apollinaris, some from Nestorius, and one from Timothy Aelurus.8 Maximus himself refers to the fourth book of the Adversus Eunomium, attributed at one time to Basil of Caesarea but now considered to be a pseudonymous addition to the authentic work of Basil.9 As the record of this dispute reveals, it was hardly unusual for parties to the controversy to reattribute or manufacture texts to provide authoritative support for their positions. The specific case of the Dionysian pseudonym raises two questions: first, why the author chose to take a pseudonym at all, and second, why he chose the Athenian convert of the apostle Paul as the purported author of his work. Since the search for historically prominent candidates for authorship of the corpus has so far been fruitless, our only source of answers to these questions lies not in the historical record but in the corpus itself. As a result, what we learn about the author’s use of the pseudonym is what he, intentionally or unintentionally, reveals to us in his text. We learn about the author only in the words of ‘‘Dionysius.’’ The letters of Dionysius provide material for an answer for the first of these questions. Ronald Hathaway has shown that the letters are not a random collection but have a systematic ordering.10 The sixth, seventh, and eighth of them form a group with the single theme of preventing conflict between different forms of worship (thr¯eskeia). The conclusions drawn in the first of these letters could apply to conflict between sects of Christianity (e.g. the Chalcedonians and Monophysites) as well as conflict between Christianity and other forms of worship. The letter admonishes a priest by the name of Sosipater, who has denounced ‘‘forms of worship’’ and ‘‘opinions’’ that ‘‘do not appear good.’’11 The problem here lies not with Sosipater. He is a priest, one of those that the Dionysian corpus elsewhere charges with illuminating the laity and monks with the truth. If anyone is qualified to pass judgment on forms of worship, it is Sosipater. The problem with his action lies rather with the truth he uses as his criterion of judgment. Dionysius tells him that ‘‘it is possible that the truth, being 8 9

10 11

For their interchange on these texts, see Patrologia Graeca (PG ) 90: 148C2. Maximus himself does not attribute his quotation from the work to Basil, but only to the ‘‘holy fathers.’’ See PG 90: 141A10. Hathaway, Hierarchy. Epistle V I , p. 165 lines 3–4 (1077A). Page and line numbers for the Dionysian corpus refer to the editions of Suchla, De divinis nominibus (DN ), and Heil and Ritter, De coelestia. Translations from the corpus are our own.

246

KEVIN CORRIGAN AND MICHAEL HARRINGTON

one and hidden, escapes both you and the others in your many falsehoods and appearances. For it is not the case that something must be white if it is not red. If something is not a horse, it is not necessarily a human.’’ Sosipater has misunderstood the nature of the truth he seeks to make manifest in his opposition to falsehood. He treats the truth as though it were one of a pair of opposites – the true as opposed to the false – when in fact the truth is hidden beyond such easily understood positions. Such a truth is not amenable to polemical arguments. Dionysius closes the letter by admonishing Sosipater not to speak against others, but only to make sure that what he says is the truth. This letter relies on a general principle of Dionysian theology, most clearly articulated in his short treatise On Mystical Theology. The treatise claims that ‘‘we must assert and affirm of the cause all the assertions about beings, since it is their cause, and we must more properly deny them all, since it surpasses them all. We must not suppose that the denials are the opposite of the affirmations, but that the cause above every denial and assertion is certainly above privation.’’12 Opposed pairs require privation: the affirmation of the one is the privation of the other. The assertions we make about the divinity are not subject to privation, because every assertion we make about the divinity must eventually be denied. If the assertion were the privation of the denial, then, when we assert and deny the same thing of the divinity we would violate the principle of noncontradiction. As it is, we begin by affirming that the divinity is truth rather than falsehood, but we must ultimately say that the divinity is beyond even truth: ‘‘it is neither error nor truth.’’13 This mystical method provides a critique of every affirmative statement in theology, whether it be Chalcedonian, Monophysite, or outside the framework of Christianity altogether. The author of the corpus does not have to rely on mystical theology to extricate himself from the Monophysite controversy. His pseudonym allows him to skirt it simply by virtue of the fact that the original Areopagite died long before the controversy began. He could not possibly then ally himself explicitly with one side or the other. However, although the Dionysian corpus does not dwell at any length on the subject of Christ’s two natures, it does contain material of use to both sides. The most famous passage taken up by the Monophysites is found in Dionysius’ fourth letter, where he says that Christ ‘‘did neither divine things by virtue of his divinity nor human things by virtue of his humanity but, as God made man, he

12

Mystical Theology (MT ), p. 143 lines 3–7 (1000B).

13

Ibid., p. 150 line 5 (1048B).

Pseudo-Dionysius

247

gave us a certain new theandric activity.’’14 By using the term ‘‘theandric’’ – combining theos (God) with an¯er (man) in a single adjective – Dionysius appears to be saying that the activity of Christ belongs neither to the divine nor to the human nature in him, but to the union of both in his incarnate form. The Monophysite Severus of Antioch takes this passage as evidence that Dionysius in fact believed that the two natures, divine and human, became one in the incarnate Christ, and he cites the passage in a letter to a fellow Monophysite.15 Equally persuasive, however, is Dionysius’ repeated use of Chalcedonian terminology to describe the union of divine and human nature in Christ. For example, he refers to Christ, who was ‘‘given our form out of his love for humanity by a complete and unconfused (asunchutos) humanization.’’16 The term ‘‘unconfused’’ does not originate with Chalcedonian Christianity, but after the Council of Chalcedon it becomes the privileged technical term for describing the union of divine and human natures in the incarnate Christ. The two natures are unconfused, meaning that they are united without being mixed. The players in the Monophysite controversy seized on these passages to support their position, but the corpus as a whole seems to use them dialectically, incorporating them both in a framework that stands outside the controversy altogether. Where Dionysius’ sixth letter suggests that theology is a poor subject for polemics, his seventh letter considers the specific case of the Hellenic mode of worship. While the term ‘‘Hellene’’ literally means anything Greek, it refers more specifically in late antiquity to the practitioners of the traditional Greek form of worship. Damascius, for instance, a contemporary of Dionysius, uses ‘‘Hellene’’ to denote a species of piety and worship.17 So here we touch upon the second of the two relevant controversies in the time of the author of the corpus: the arguments and sometimes violence between the Christians and the Hellenes. Dionysius says in the seventh letter: ‘‘I do not think I speak against the Hellenes or others, supposing that good men are satisfied if they are able to know and speak the truth in itself, as it really is.’’ The nature of the Dionysian pseudonym seems at first to stand at odds with this reluctance to enter into conflict with the Hellenists, since the pseudonym originates in a passage from the Acts of the Apostles where a 14 15

16 17

Epistle I V , p. 161 lines 8–10 (1072C). See Doctrina patrum (ed. Diekamp) p. 41 lines 24–5; p. 309 line 15–p. 310 line 12; Rorem and Lamoreaux, John of Scythopolis, pp. 13–14. On the Ecclesiastical Hierarchy (EH) p. 93 lines 16–17 (444C). In The Philosophical History he identifies Hellenism as the piety (sebas) possessed by Maximinus (p. 311), and as a religion (thr¯eskeia) to be compared with Judaism (p. 237).

248

KEVIN CORRIGAN AND MICHAEL HARRINGTON

stylized conflict between Christianity and Greek philosophy takes place. The apostle Paul has come to Athens, where ‘‘some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers’’ interact with him. Supposing that he is introducing new gods to the Athenians, they take him to the Areopagus, which presides over the introduction of novel deities. The Areopagites take great interest in Paul because, the Acts explains, ‘‘all the Athenians and resident foreigners rejoiced in nothing but saying and hearing the latest thing.’’18 The derisive tone taken by the Acts toward the philosophical culture of the Athenians gives a polemical bent to this passage. The Athenian love of philosophy is bankrupt because it delights in talking about things rather than seizing the truth when it appears. By choosing a pseudonym derived from this passage, the author of the Dionysian corpus actually foregrounds the conflict between the Christians and the Hellenists. Why would the author use a pseudonym that draws attention to the conflict between Christians and Hellenists, when his letters explicitly disavow such conflict? Does the author of the corpus have a different goal from the pseudonymous version of himself presented in his text? That is to say, does the pseudonym intend to mislead the reader not only as to the author’s identity, but also as to his own sympathies? Again, our inability to identify the author prevents us from comparing his own views with those represented in the Dionysian corpus, but the corpus itself takes us some distance toward answering this question. It not only presents the purported teaching of the Areopagite, but also analyzes his character, and this gives us a third source of information to be added to the views of its true author (inaccessible to us) and the doctrine of the text. Speaking in the person of Dionysius the Areopagite, the true author tells us that his texts record the doctrines of two teachers, Hierotheus and the apostle Paul. Although Hierotheus is generally thought to be a fictional character, Dionysius goes to some lengths to identify him with the Hellenic tradition of Neoplatonism.19 He tells us that Hierotheus is the author of a work called the Elements of Theology, which is in fact the title of a work written by Proclus. Also, the ‘‘quotations’’ from Hierotheus’ work presented by Dionysius in On the Divine Names are unusually rich in Neoplatonic terminology. Timothy, on the other hand, the addressee of many of Dionysius’ works, is identified readily enough as the recipient of two letters attributed to the apostle Paul, and is, according to the Christian tradition, 18 19

Acts 17:18–21. Sheldon-Williams, ‘‘Ps. Dionysius,’’ is the exception, arguing that Hierotheus refers to a historical figure.

Pseudo-Dionysius

249

the bishop of Ephesus. Dionysius, then, represents himself as combining a Hellenic and a Christian tradition, embodied by Hierotheus and the apostle Paul respectively, for Christian readers like Timothy. The Dionysian corpus reflects this dual character. For example, the treatise On the Divine Names gives to Hosea 13: 4 – ‘‘I did not show (paradeiknumi) these things to you so that you could run after them’’ – a meaning that would be senseless outside a Neoplatonic context. Dionysius takes the passage to be speaking of the Neoplatonic paradigms, the intelligible forms responsible for the production of sensible beings. The original passage is enriched by its new context, but even the Neoplatonic context is transformed by Dionysius’ Christian interpretation of it. We can accept the Neoplatonic paradigms, he says, but we must not ‘‘run after them.’’ That is, we must go beyond them to their source in the single creative divinity of the Christians, who takes over many of the functions delegated by the Hellenic Neoplatonists to the paradigms. The text of the Dionysian corpus, then, is itself a complicated interweaving of scriptural and philosophical language derived from both the Hellenic and Christian traditions, just as Dionysius suggests in his reference to his teachers and student. Dionysius is not the first to put historical figures into a fictional but pedagogically useful relationship. Plato, of course, presents a fictionalized Socrates in his dialogues. Socrates becomes the representative of the kind of thought that thinks the Platonic forms and, when Plato wishes to foreground another mode of thought, as in the Timaeus or Parmenides, Socrates does not get much of a speaking part. The Neoplatonists are sensitive to this treatment of historical figures, as we can see from Proclus’ commentary on the characters of Parmenides, Zeno, and Socrates in Plato’s Parmenides. Proclus first identifies the characters and their action in the dialogue: ‘‘we should note the order of ascent; Socrates, having associated himself as closely as possible with Zeno, directs the argument to Parmenides and joins himself to him through the medium of Zeno, using Zeno as a pretext for his approach.’’20 Then there is the interpretation of those characters and their action: ‘‘we should note not only that he joins the more perfect by means of what is less perfect but nearer to him, but also that above all he wants to see their unity.’’ The more perfect and less perfect here refer to modes of thought: they are both kinds of dialectic. Such a dialectic is less perfect because less unified, and so it is more suited to the human soul, which itself is not unified, moving always from one thought to another. Zeno’s dialectic ‘‘combines propositions and notes consequences 20

In Parmenides 700.

250

KEVIN CORRIGAN AND MICHAEL HARRINGTON

and contradictions.’’ Parmenides, on the other hand, makes use of an ‘‘intelligible dialectic which has its authority in simple intuitions.’’ Proclus concludes: ‘‘Zeno descends to a plurality of arguments; Parmenides relies upon an intelligible intuition of reality, ever the same in kind.’’ In Proclus’ interpretation, Socrates is able to ascend to the unity of Parmenides’ thought only through the medium of Zeno’s less unified thought, which is more accessible to Socrates’ own soul. Dionysius adopts the Proclan hierarchy of characters, from the unitary sage to the less unified apprentice. In the third chapter of On the Divine Names, he explains this hierarchic relation between himself, his fellow bishop Timothy, and his teachers Hierotheus and the apostle Paul. Dionysius says that he once lent Timothy Hierotheus’ Elements of Theology, but Timothy returned it, saying that it was over his head. Dionysius’ own treatise On the Divine Names claims to be a response to Timothy’s frustration. Timothy, Dionysius says, could not understand the Elements because Hierotheus used it to ‘‘set down for us definitions that are compressed (sunoptikoi) and enfold many things into one.’’21 Dionysius takes the very compressed character of this treatise as a command ‘‘to unfold and separate by a discourse appropriate for us the compressed and unitary enfoldings of the intelligible power of that man.’’ Hierotheus here plays the role of Parmenides by seeing all things in one at the level of intellect. Dionysius plays the role of Zeno, taking Parmenides’ vision and unfolding it. Dionysius does not have Zeno’s polemical bent, and so he does not unfold it into a set of arguments directed against the opponents of Hierotheus, but only into a more discursive, accessible version of Hierotheus’ text. Timothy plays the role of Socrates, receiving the instruction of Dionysius as a means of ascending toward the insights of Hierotheus. Dionysius does not claim to be on the level of Hierotheus, but only to be able to lead others to the point where they can achieve Hierotheus’ vision: ‘‘the sight of the intelligible writings with one’s own eyes and their compressed teaching requires the power of an elder, but the knowledge and learning of the discourses that lead us to this are suited to subordinate consecrators.’’22 This latter is precisely what Zeno possesses in Proclus’ commentary on the Parmenides. In addition to allowing the author of the corpus to become a representative figure in his own text, the pseudonym also allows him to orchestrate the composition of the corpus for a similarly pedagogical purpose. The 21 22

On the Divine Names (DN ), p. 140 lines 6–7 (681B). For Plato’s use of Synoptikos see Republic 537c. DN, p. 140 lines 17–20 (681C).

Pseudo-Dionysius

251

order of composition that Dionysius provides for his four so-called theological treatises actually gives the ordering of their subject matter. Beginning with the Theological Representations, which discusses names of the Trinity, Dionysius descends through On the Divine Names, which discusses names for God drawn from intelligible things, to the Symbolic Theology, which discusses names drawn from sensible things. The last of the theological treatises, the Mystical Theology, leads the reader back up from the sensible, through the intelligible, to the Trinity. The purported order of composition describes the Neoplatonic structure of the procession of all things from God and return of all things to God in a more systematic manner than most authors can aspire to. The historical writer of the Dionysian corpus, whoever he was, disappears behind the more pedagogically effective image of himself presented in the text. MEDIEVAL RECEPTION AND USE OF

‘‘ D I O N Y S I U S ’’

While it seems to have been the strategy of the author that he could stand outside the conflicts of his age, the initial reception of his corpus turned out to be quite different. Rather than freeing the texts from the conflicts of the fifth and sixth centuries, the apostolic pseudonym served rather to focus attention on them. The Chalcedonians and Monophysites could not resist the authority that the apostolic pseudonym conferred on the passages that supported their position, and so they argued about both the authority and the position of Dionysius relative to the controversy. The Hellenic language of Dionysius also did not go unnoticed. We see all of these sixth-century concerns about the Dionysian corpus at play in the prologue to a set of scholia that came to accompany the text of the Dionysian corpus perhaps within twenty years of its composition.23 As to the Christological position of Dionysius, the scholiast says that ‘‘some dare to abuse the divine Dionysius with charges of heresy.’’24 The scholiast himself follows the Chalcedonians. Paul Rorem has shown how the scholiast’s frequent comment, ‘‘note that this is against the Nestorians and the Acephalians,’’ revealed his aim of freeing Dionysius from Monophysitism on the one hand – since the Acephalians were the Monophysite sect led by Severus of Antioch – and from Nestorianism on the other hand.25 The scholiast’s defense of Dionysius also reveals that there were early doubts about whether the corpus should be attributed to the historical Dionysius: 23 24

Rorem and Lamoreaux, John of Scythopolis, p. 39, date the earliest set of scholia to between 537 and 543. Trans. Rorem and Lamoreaux, ibid., p. 146. 25 Rorem, ‘‘Doctrinal Concerns,’’ p. 193.

252

KEVIN CORRIGAN AND MICHAEL HARRINGTON

‘‘They say . . . Eusebius Pamphili does not write of his books, nor in fact does Origen.’’ The scholiast has little to say about this except that Eusebius and Origen fail to mention other books whose attribution no one doubts, and that the corpus refers ‘‘offhandedly’’ to first-century figures. Finally, the scholiast suggests that the Platonic language of Dionysius impugned the character of its author. In his commentary, the scholiast frequently interprets the Platonic language of Dionysius. When Dionysius compares God to the sun, the scholiast hastens to comment: ‘‘Let no one suppose that the great Dionysius judges the things of God entirely suited to the example of the sun.’’26 The scholiast is sensitive to the charge, often leveled against Neoplatonists, that the Neoplatonic principle acts without thought, just as the sun mindlessly emanates its light. The scholiast explains that the sun is not comparable to God, because ‘‘neither it is ensouled nor does it do its good works by choice, for it is without reasoning.’’ The scholiast concludes his comment with what sounds like a veiled criticism of Dionysius: ‘‘He uses the example of the sun as a dark and nearly opaque image of its wholly incommunicable archetype. For if images possessed the truth, they would no longer be examples, but archetypes.’’ Not every scholium tries to save Dionysius from the charge of being a Christian heretic or a Hellenic Neoplatonist, but the scholiast does give Dionysius a stand on all the controversies that the corpus itself avoids. A surprising second chapter in the pseudonym’s history opened when two Lives of St. Dionysius – the first appearing some time toward the end of the eighth century – identified the author of the Dionysian corpus not only with the Areopagite mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles but also with the first bishop of Paris.27 Through this identification, the authority of Dionysius was brought into play in a cultural struggle for supremacy between the Frankish kings, the Romans, and the Byzantines. It has long been argued that the ninth-century translation of patristic texts into Latin and the production of Latin saint’s lives were intended to give the Latin church cultural clout against the Byzantines.28 The Frankish kings sought to achieve a similar power in relation to Rome by the acquisition of relics of saints and, in the case of Dionysius, the discovery that a virtual apostle had served as the first bishop of Paris. When the second of the two Lives had disappeared, and only a translation into Greek remained, the Frankish king Charles the Bald commissioned its re-translation into Latin, so as, according to Bronwen Neil, ‘‘to legitimate the Frankish claim to 26 28

PG 4: 240.2 (1–3). 27 On the dating of the Lives, see Plantin, ‘‘Les Passions,’’ pp. 215–30. See Leonardi, ‘‘L’agiografia romana,’’ pp. 471–89; ‘‘Anastasio bibliothecario.’’

Pseudo-Dionysius

253

near-apostolic origins for the monastery of St. Denys in Paris.’’29 The authority of Dionysius served the Frankish aims, not through any ideas present in the Dionysius corpus, but through the purported time spent by its author in Paris, and by the arrival of the text itself at the abbey of Saint-Denis in 827. The text served as a kind of relic of the saint, who was now thought of as the bishop of Paris. The Franks, then, unlike the partisans of the sixthcentury Monophysite controversy, did not require a particular interpretation of the text, but only its translation and dissemination. As a result, interpreters of the text could be faithful to its irenic intention. Eriugena, for instance, was commissioned by Charles the Bald to translate the Dionysian corpus, but he was able to interpret it in his Periphuseon in an irenic spirit, reconciling Greek and Latin authors among the Christians, and even relying on Plato to the extent that Plato’s texts were available to him. The Dionysian corpus later became involved in another power struggle, but one that did require a particular doctrine from the text, and that was to prove fateful for the reception of Dionysius in modernity. In 1302, Pope Boniface VIII promulgated his encyclical Unam Sanctam. Its attempt to justify the subordination of the secular power – namely, the French king Philip IV – to the ecclesiastical power of the pope claims Dionysius as an apostolic authority, since ‘‘according to the Blessed Dionysius, it is a law of the divinity that the lowest things reach the highest place by intermediaries.’’ Dionysius uses variations on this ‘‘law of the divinity’’ several times in his treatise on the heavenly hierarchy, where it identifies the angels as mediators between God and humans, but he identifies human beings as the mediators only in his eighth letter, where the law concludes the irenic argument begun in Letters Six and Seven. Demophilus the monk, the addressee of Letter Eight, has forcibly prevented a priest from allowing a penitent to receive the Eucharist. Dionysius argues first against the polemical bent of Demophilus – just as he argued against Sosipater in Letter Six – but here he adds that, as a monk, Demophilus has no authority to correct a priest. There is a simple reason for this: ‘‘Things are allotted to secondary beings through primary beings by the orderly and just providence.’’30 This law has its root in the hiddenness of the truth that Dionysius described in Letter Six. If we cannot arrive at the hidden truth by separating off true statements from false, in the manner of human wisdom, then it can only be handed down to us by a higher authority, as Dionysius says elsewhere.31 29 31

Neil, Anastasius Bibliothecarius, p. 40. 30 Epistle V I I I , p. 182 lines 3–5 (1093A). See DN, p. 108 lines 6–8 (588A): ‘‘We must not dare to say or conceive anything concerning the hidden divinity over being save what has been divinely revealed to us in the sacred writings.’’

254

KEVIN CORRIGAN AND MICHAEL HARRINGTON

The monk or layperson receives this truth in a highly discursive form, so that it looks the same as the truth that can be opposed to falsehood. If it were, the monk could use it to critique the falsehood of the priest. But in fact this truth, like the truth of the priest, is beyond the opposition of truth and falsehood and has only a discursive form, not a discursive meaning. And so Dionysius advises Demophilus: ‘‘Let the divine deacons allot things to you, the priests to them, the hierarchs to the priests, and the apostles and teachers of the apostles to the hierarchs.’’32 Unam Sanctam modifies this doctrine of Dionysius by applying it outside the walls of the church, so as to relate it to secular power, and by changing the nature of the truth concerned, since the human wisdom needed by the secular power makes precisely the distinction between truth and falsehood that is transcended in the mystical theology of the ecclesiastical hierarchy. The final chapter in the history of the Dionysian pseudonym was the revelation that it was, in fact, a pseudonym. It has become customary to date this revelation to the year 1457, when the Italian scholar Lorenzo Valla prepared two texts containing the claim that Dionysius the Areopagite was not the true author of the Dionysian corpus. As Karlfried Froelich has noted, neither document saw publication until many years later, but Valla’s opinion became known to several important thinkers working at the end of the fifteenth century: Pico della Mirandola, Marsilio Ficino, William Grocyn, and eventually Erasmus.33 It was Erasmus who publicized Valla’s opinion and became the primary target of the defenders of Dionysian authorship for the corpus. The claim to apostolic authorship was not a matter of mere scholarly concern. The fate of the Dionysian corpus had become tied to that of the Reformation itself. By and large, Roman Catholics defended the apostolic authorship of the corpus, while Protestants argued against it. While the philosophical importance of the corpus does not depend on the identity of its author, the importance of the corpus for the Reformation depended largely on its belonging to an apostolic milieu whose authority was accepted by Protestant and Catholic alike. If the authority of Dionysius were accepted, then his statements about the necessity of submission to the ecclesiastical hierarchy could be used by the Roman Catholic thinkers against the reformers. Without that authority, the power of the corpus’s claims about the hierarchy dwindled, as did the need for Dionysius in the conflict. As Froelich has put it, ‘‘in the polemics of the early 1500s the denial of Areopagitic authorship was apt to put an end to a scholar’s active 32

Epistle V I I I , p. 183 lines 11–13 (1093C).

33

Froelich, ‘‘Pseudo-Dionysius,’’ p. 39.

Pseudo-Dionysius

255

involvement with the Dionysian tradition.’’34 When the pseudonymous character of the Dionysian writings had been generally accepted, the study of the corpus itself entered a period of eclipse. CONTEMPORARY AFTERLIFE

However, the legacy of Dionysius has been reinvented recently in somewhat different terms. As Jean Leclercq has observed,35 Dionysius’ emphasis upon the importance of symbols in discursive thought and mysticism is attractive to an era that values the imagination and wishes to employ it in theology and, perhaps, philosophy. Above all, Dionysius’ ability to bridge the gap between different, perhaps opposed, traditions is also attractive to a more global form of consciousness, especially if the only hope for the survival of human life as we know it is for inter-civilizational collisions between autonomous cultures to yield to inter-civilizational resonances between peoples capable of giving up their apparent iron-clad identities or religious persuasions and living more peacefully and creatively. In this sense, Dionysius’ invention of a sacred tradition seems to point a way through our own anxieties. Again too, our age, fed upon the death of the author from Nietzsche to Barthes, looks favorably upon pseudonyms and the erasure of autonomous subjectivity or originality. So the absence of a ‘‘genuine’’ author, namely, St. Paul’s real companion, may seem more appropriate to modern sensibility accustomed to fictional personae. Equally, Dionysius’ view of God as Being and yet simultaneously beyond Being (‘‘unity beyond being and knowledge,’’ ‘‘beyond divinity . . . beyond goodness’’36) prefigures our own age’s attempt not to overdetermine God, that is, to move to a ‘‘God without being,’’ in Jean-Luc Marion’s terms,37 to set against the Goddetermined-as-being of thinkers such as Aquinas (at least in Marion’s interpretation), for whom God is ipsum esse (‘‘Being itself’’). Or finally, for Jacques Derrida, the negative theology framework of Dionysius’ thought (and that of Meister Eckhart) appears to go beyond a Christian viewpoint, no matter how rooted it might be in Christianity, for in its prayers, affirmations, negations, and negations of negations, the promise of which it speaks has always already escaped the demand of presence or determination: ‘‘The most negative discourse, even beyond all nihilisms and negative dialectics, preserves a trace of the other. A trace of 34 37

Ibid., p. 40. 35 Leclercq, ‘‘Influence and Noninfluence,’’ pp. 25–32. Marion, God Without Being, esp. pp. 73ff.

36

MT 998bff.

256

KEVIN CORRIGAN AND MICHAEL HARRINGTON

an event older than it or a ‘taking-place’ to come . . . Translated into the Christian apophatics of Dionysius . . . this signifies that the power of speaking and of speaking well of God already proceeds from God.’’38 In fact, Dionysius’ entire work is a kind of gigantic pseudonymous enterprise – ‘‘a secret manifestation’’ if such a thing is possible: Even before commanding the extreme negativity of the apophasis, this manifestation is transmitted to us as a ‘‘secret gift’’ by our inspired masters. We thus learn to decipher symbols, we understand how ‘the love of God for man envelops the intelligible in the sensible, what is beyond being in being, gives form and fashion to the unformable and the unfashionable, and through a variety of partial symbols, multiplies and figures the unfigurable and marvelous Simplicity’ (DN 592b). In brief, we learn to read, to decipher the rhetoric without rhetoric of God – and finally to be silent.’’39

One can read this in several different ways. On the one hand, it may seem as though Dionysius might disappear altogether upon such an interpretation. On the other hand, what is hidden so openly in the erased authorship and secret gift of the text might permit us to read that text in completely new ways. On the whole, Derrida’s interpretation seems to lean more to the latter view. So if originality is one of the pathologies of modernity, and the destruction of originality a special pathology of postmodernity, however much it inevitably remains in uneasy balance with originality’s paraphernalia (such as intellectual property, definite authorship, etc.), then perhaps the pseudonymous sacred tradition of ‘‘Dionysius’’ will continue to forge its own peculiarly self-effacing but symbolically universal afterlife just as it appears to have done so faithfully and truthfully for so many of different persuasions in the past. REFERENCES

Damascius, The Philosophical History, ed. Polymnia Athanassiadi (Athens: Apamea Cultural Association, 1999). Derrida, Jacques, ‘‘Denials: How Not To Speak’’ (‘‘De´negations: comment ne pas parler’’), in Harold Coward and Toby Foshay (eds.), Derrida and Negative Theology (Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 1992), pp. 73–142. Dionysius: Corpus Dionysiacum, I: Pseudo-Dionysius Areopagita: De Divinis Nominibus, ed. Beate R. Suchla (Berlin: de Gruyter, 1990). Draguet, Rene´, Julien d’Halicarnasse (Louvain: P. Smeesters, 1924). Froelich, Karlfried, ‘‘Pseudo-Dionysius and the Reformation of the Sixteenth Century,’’ in Pseudo-Dionysius: The Complete Works (New York and Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press, 1987). 38

‘‘Denials,’’ pp. 97–8.

39

‘‘Denials,’’ p. 119. Cf. Turner, Darkness of God, pp. 19–49, esp. 44ff.

Pseudo-Dionysius

257

Gregory Nazianzus, Orations 4 and 5, from the works collected in Patrologia Graeca, ed. J. P. Migne (1857–66), vols. 35–78. Hathaway, Ronald, Hierarchy and the Definition of Order in the Letters of PseudoDionysius (The Hague: M. Nijhoff, 1969). Koch, Hugo, ‘‘Proklus als Quelle des Pseudo-Dionysius Areopagita in der Lehre vom Bo¨sen,’’ Philologus 54 (1895), pp. 438–54. Leclercq, Jean, ‘‘Influence and Noninfluence of Dionysius in the Western Middle Ages,’’ in Pseudo-Dionysius, The Complete Works, trans. Colm Luibheid (New York and Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press, 1987), pp. 25–32. Leonardi, Claudio, ‘‘L’agiografia romana del secolo IX,’’ in Hagiographie, cultures et socie´te´s, IVe–XXe sie`cles (Paris: E´tudes Augustiniennes, 1981), pp. 471–89. ‘‘Anastasio bibliothecario e le traduzioni dal greco nella Roma altomedievale,’’ in Michael W. Herren and Shirley Ann Brown (eds.), The Sacred Nectar of the Greeks (London: University of London, 1988), pp. 277–96. Marion, Jean-Luc, God Without Being, trans. Thomas A. Carlson, foreword by David Tracy (Chicago, IL, and London: University of Chicago Press, 1991). Mattingly, Harold B., ‘‘The Date of Plato’s Symposium,’’ Phronesis 3 1958, pp. 31–9. Meredith, Anthony, The Cappadocians (New York: St. Vladimir’s Press, 1995). Neil, Bronwen, Anastasius Bibliothecarius’ Latin Translation of Greek Documents Pertaining to the Life of Maximus the Confessor (Ann Arbor, MI: UMI Research Press, 1998). Plantin, Henri M., ‘‘Les Passons de saint Denys,’’ in Me´langes offerts au R. P. Ferdinand Cavallera (Toulouse: Bibliothe`que de l’Institut Catholique, 1948), pp. 215–30. Proclus, In Parmenides, trans. Glenn R. Morrow and John M. Dillon as Proclus’ Commentary on Plato’s Parmenides (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1987). Pseudo-Dionysius Areopagita, De Coelestia Hierarchia; De Ecclesiastica Hierarchia; Mystica Theologia; Epistulae, ed. Gu¨nter Heil and Adolf Martin Ritter (Berlin: De Gruyter, 1991). Rorem, Paul, ‘‘The Doctrinal Concerns of the First Dionysian Scholiast, John of Scythopolis,’’ in Ysabel de Andia (ed.), Denys l‘Are´opagite et sa poste´rite´ en orient et en occident (Paris: Institut d’Etudes Augustiniennes, 1997), pp. 187–200. Rorem, Paul, and John Lamoreaux, John of Scythopolis and the Dionysian Corpus (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1998), pp. 9–15. Sheldon-Williams, Inglis P., ‘‘The Ps. Dionysius and the Holy Hierotheus,’’ Studia Patristica 8/2 (1966), pp. 108–17. Stiglmayr, Josef, ‘‘Der Neuplatoniker Proclus als Vorlage des sog. Dionysius ¨ bel,’’ Historisches Jahrbuch 16 (1895), Areopagita in der Lehre vom U pp. 253–73, 721–48. Turner, Denys, The Darkness of God: Negativity in Christian Mysticism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995), pp. 19–49. ¨ ber di Anachronismen in den platonischen Gespra¨chen (Berlin, Zeller, Eduard, U 1873), pp. 79 99.

CHAPTER

13

Spurious attribution in the Hebrew Bible Philip R. Davies

‘‘Spurious attribution’’ in the Hebrew Bible is a complex issue. Much of it is retrospective, of course, the result of pious tradition. Indeed, in this respect the Bible as a whole suffers from spurious attribution when referred to, indiscriminately, as the ‘‘word of God’’ or of divine authorship. Some biblical texts explicitly claim to be from God: the law dictated to Moses or oracles to prophets. But these passages are distinguished from their narrative framework as well as from the voice of the recipient until he says, ‘‘Thus says the LO R D .’’ For, unlike the Qur’an, the Bible does not claim to consist entirely of divine speech, or to have been entirely dictated. Spurious attribution within the Bible, with which this chapter mainly deals, is another matter. But in order to understand the nature and implications of the issue, we need first to consider, briefly, the question of ‘‘authorship’’ in its historical and cultural context. WRITING AND AUTHORSHIP IN THE BIBLICAL WORLD

While the Old Testament (or Hebrew Bible) shares with the New Testament a similar attitude to the distinction (or lack of it) between fact and fiction, it differs over attribution of authorship. Over half of the Old Testament books are not explicitly credited, in whole or in part, to individual authors (i.e. Genesis–Job, Chronicles). This is not unexpected, but follows the scribal culture of the ancient Near East – the territory stretching from Egypt to Mesopotamia, the so-called ‘‘Fertile Crescent’’ – which largely determined the conventions governing the composition and transmission of the Jewish scriptures (composed in Hebrew, with a few chapters in Aramaic). By contrast, the New Testament writings reflect the literary conventions of the Greco-Roman world (and were written entirely in Greek). There is only one book in the Old Testament whose author we can be sure of: the Wisdom of Jesus ben Sira, which is not in the Hebrew Bible but in the earliest Greek Christian Bibles (i.e. in the Apocrypha). 258

Spurious attribution in the Hebrew Bible

259

Although largely traditional in genre and content, it was composed in the Hellenistic period (the beginning of the second century BC E ) well after the ancient Near East had fallen under Greek cultural and political dominance following the conquests of Alexander the Great. Written texts generally may be divided into documentary and literary. Documentary texts contain records (fiscal, cultic, commercial and legal transactions, chronicles). Literary texts are what we nowadays more commonly mean by ‘‘literature’’ in the more elevated sense: in the ancient world these would comprise myths, ‘‘wisdom’’ (philosophy), lawcodes (which were never merely, or ‘‘even,’’ functional), liturgy, and stories ranging from historiographical to novelistic. For documentary texts, authorship is not an issue, since the identity of the composer of the text is irrelevant to the value of the contents. For literary texts, we can discern three categories of authorship. First, there are inscriptions that rulers commissioned, containing accounts of their deeds, announcing their virtues, justifying their reigns and celebrating their achievements – the Code of Hammurabi and the stela erected by king Mesha of Moab (the ‘‘Moabite Stone’’) are two examples well known to biblical students.1 For such monuments the author is the whole point of the texts. (The famous Siloam Inscription is an oddity in bearing no indication of the ruler who authorized the tunnel that it commemorates.) Of course, monarchs were not as a rule literate, and we cannot speak of them as authors in the strict sense, nor did they dictate texts verbatim. Rather, such compositions followed fixed literary conventions and were drafted by official scribes familiar with the techniques and informed of the correct ideological requirements – much as today’s civil servants operate on behalf of their political masters. Secondly, the majority of ancient literary writings fall into the category of anonymous. The scribal communities responsible for all writing (apart from graffiti) were not concerned for the most part with authorship; this datum added no value, no useful information, to the content, unless the author was exceedingly eminent (and thus as important as the work itself). In the case of official texts, such as liturgical or historiographical documents, anonymity also conveyed a sense of timelessness and even authority. The tales of popular culture, such as epics, legends, and romances, which were often adopted or adapted into literary form, were likewise unattributed. Just as the oral traditions were common property, so the written texts 1

There are many collections of ancient Near Eastern texts in translation. The most used and commonly available (though not the most reliable) is Pritchard, Ancient Near Eastern Texts (ANET).

260

PHILIP R. DAVIES

were regarded as the creation and property of the scribal community as a whole; their authorship is really collective. A third category comprises writings assigned to eminent persons, and such ascription is usually spurious. The device may have a number of reasons: the imputed author – a king or a senior courtier or priest – may have been a sponsor or patron of the work or its authors, or enjoy a reputation as a founder or master of the genre. While many of the imputed authors are kings, a number of collections of wise sayings are ascribed to sages. The Egyptian Instruction of Amenemopet, for instance, is credited to an Egyptian sage of the twelfth century B C E – and a portion of it has apparently been adapted in a section (as ‘‘sayings of the wise’’) of the book of Proverbs, a book (spuriously) ascribed to a Judean king of a century or so later.2 The case of Imhotep (c. 2600 BC E ), is exceptional: long thought to be entirely legendary, he is now recognized as a mixture of legend and reality. He was a poet, physician-priest, and architect, who composed several texts of wisdom and also designed the step pyramid at Saqqara. Later he was deified, becoming the patron of scribes and of physicians, whose cult persisted throughout the classical period, until the advent of Islam. His profile is somewhat similar to the Mesopotamian sage Enmeduranki, one of the kings who reigned ‘‘before the Flood,’’ and was believed to have received the secrets of divination from the gods before ascending to heaven. This figure – unlike Imhotep, most likely entirely legendary – lies behind the Jewish hero Enoch, who, although mentioned only briefly in the Bible, became the pseudonymous author of a number of apocalyptic Jewish writings between the fourth century BC E and the third century C E – and is also described as having ascended to heaven. The case of Enoch, Solomon, or David shows how figures associated with a particular genre, or seen as patron of a particular art or science, become pseudonymous authors. Such an ascription of authorship is a part of the genre, conventional, and should not be understood as a literal deception. Such claims were undoubtedly believed or not, depending on the individual (and the mood). Alas, the piety of religious tradition tends to adopt such ascriptions quite seriously, because while canonized religious texts retain their form and content, the culture within which they were produced has disappeared, and with it the necessary reading competence for the text. The biblical prophetic books comprise a special instance of this category. They are a mixture of genuine and spurious attribution, but on the whole 2

Specifically, Proverbs 22.17–24.22: For the text, see Pritchard, ANET, nos. 4211–25.

Spurious attribution in the Hebrew Bible

261

illustrate the principle by which material originally associated with a named individual is enlarged by later editors and copyists. Scholars still debate how much of the book of Isaiah, for instance, comes from the prophet of that name; there is a consensus that nothing beyond chapter 35 is from him (and not everything before that). There are particular reasons for this unique process, which certainly does not exclude deception. In the Greco-Roman world a quite different social climate and structure can be observed. Individual authorship is much more the custom, and spurious authorship a rather more straightforward procedure. While it would be wrong to generalize Greco-Roman society as ‘‘democratic,’’ its urban culture at least was different from the totalitarian (monarchic or imperial) feudalism that had characterized the ancient Near East. Greek and Oriental culture merged into what we call ‘‘Hellenism,’’ but as far as literary culture was concerned, Greek culture, like the Greek language, was dominant. The role of the individual in political life, the ‘‘citizen’’ (a concept alien to the ancient Near East), and a greater independence of religion from political structures induced a climate in which a greater degree of freedom prevailed in areas that included the artistic as well as the political. Philosophy and art were less dominated by the requirements of the state, and instead the individual, whether as scientist, philosopher, dramatist, poet, or historian, claimed his (or her) own recognition – and often enjoyed the patronage of other wealthy individuals, and not just the king. The author of the Iliad and the Odyssey had always been known, unlike the equally accomplished author of the Epic of Gilgamesh; we even know the names of lawgivers that furnished Athens with its constitution. We can name Greek poets, historians, dramatists, and philosophers. But the author(s) of the book of Job or Ahiqar – even, later, Judith and Tobit, or the books of Maccabees or any of the Dead Sea Scrolls – are unknown, though we do know of Philo and Josephus and several other Jewish authors who wrote in Greek. As a general rule, we know the names of most Jewish writers in Greek but hardly any writers in Hebrew or Aramaic. In the latter case, anonymity still seems to have carried authority, while in the former, the identity of the author was important. This contrast perhaps has something to do with the role of individuality in general. We can see the importance of the individual in the Greek translation of Ben Sira, where his grandson attributes the work to him by name. Ben Sira himself also has a section in praise of the great men of the past (44–9). In the book of Ecclesiastes, although the author’s identity is hidden under the guise of Solomon, we find an aggressive questioning of traditional values and a stress on personal experience and observation that

262

PHILIP R. DAVIES

reminds many modern scholars of the spirit of Greek science and philosophy and seems in a way to set in opposition the anonymous and the personal as founts of wisdom. (We know the names of the founders of the major Greek philosophical schools: Zeno, Plato, Pythagoras, Epicurus.3) Between the named and the unnamed author lies the pseudonymous author. Pseudepigraphy flourished within Judaism in the Hellenistic and Greco-Roman eras. The pseudonymous writings of this period typically claim to impart ancient wisdom, long forgotten or concealed. A figure of the (usually remote) past is chosen – such as Adam, Enoch, Noah – often one to whom no previous literary tradition attaches. A popular form is the letter to children, deathbed blessing, or testament.4 Sometimes the writings issue ethical exhortation, in which case an appropriate figure of religious authority (e.g. one of the twelve sons of Jacob) is selected. But they usually contain, as well, predictions about the ‘‘future’’ that has meanwhile intervened, culminating in the end of history, which always turns out to be imminent. This genre partly reflects the Near Eastern ideology that all great social institutions and all the knowledge that went with them had been revealed or discovered long ago, but it also pandered to the superstition that there were ancient secrets that had been lost (nowadays we can see this instinct surfacing in all those bookshop titles shelved under ‘‘Ancient Mysteries,’’ be they Jewish, Egyptian, or Chinese). It can very plausibly be seen as one of the literary forms thrown up by the culture of divination that permeated the entire ancient world; the human desire to know, if not to control, the future was even more passionate in a world of multiple deities or a single but inscrutable god than nowadays, when a scientific mentality offers a degree of understanding, if not foreknowledge, of things once felt to be beyond human comprehension or control, such as economic and political fortunes, disease, natural disasters, or even weather. Straightforward specious ascription, writing plausibly under the name of someone else, perhaps recently deceased, is not attested in the Jewish tradition, but can be found in the New Testament. With this brief (and rather overgeneralized) account of the cultural background, and with an overview of the biblical range, we can now consider the subject in more detail.

3

4

For a very thorough treatment of the rise of individual authorship, see Wyrick, Ascension of Authorship. The most complete and accessible of collections of classical Jewish pseudepigrapha in English translation is Charlesworth, Old Testament Pseudepigrapha.

Spurious attribution in the Hebrew Bible

263

SPURIOUS AUTHORSHIP IN THE OLD TESTAMENT/ HEBREW BIBLE

Spurious attribution of authorship (including transmission and translation) of the scriptures quickly developed once scriptural status was achieved. The Talmudic tractate Bab Bathra (14b–15a) provides the following list:5 Five Books of Moses: Moses Joshua: Joshua (except for last couple of verses that speak of his death, which were written by Phineas) Judges: Samuel Samuel: Samuel wrote up until 1 Samuel 25:1. The rest was written by Gad and Nathan. Kings: Jeremiah Jeremiah: Jeremiah (and completed by the Men of the Great Assembly) Ezekiel: Men of the Great Assembly Isaiah: published by the School of King Hezekiah Twelve Minor Prophets (Hosea–Malachi): published by the Men of the Great Assembly in one scroll Psalms: David (but includes psalms from others such as Adam, Abraham, and Moses) Proverbs: Solomon Ecclesiastes: Solomon Song of Songs: Solomon Job: Moses (or the Men of the Great Assembly) Ruth: Samuel Lamentations: Jeremiah Esther: Mordecai Daniel: published by the Men of the Great Assembly Ezra and Nehemiah: Ezra Books of Chronicles: Ezra (and by Nehemiah from 2 Chronicles 21:2 onwards) The names are based on a scheme of succession that we find in the Mishnah (Aboth 1:1) regarding the transmission of its Oral Torah: ‘‘Moses received the law from Sinai and committed it to Joshua, and Joshua to the elders, and the elders to the Prophets; and the prophets committed it to the men of 5

The standard English translation of the Talmud is the Soncino edition (London), edited by Isidore Epstein and completed in 35 volumes in 1952, reissued in 1962 in 18 volumes. It is also available on the internet at . The standard English translation of the Mishnah is Danby, Mishnah.

264

PHILIP R. DAVIES

the Great Assembly.’’6 The ascriptions and the sequence are both pious fictions, but serving a serious purpose – similar to the ‘‘science’’ of hadith in Islam, whereby authenticity is guaranteed by a reliable chain of transmission. The exercise itself is doctrinal rather than historical. Note, too, that authorship in the strict sense is not the issue. That is already understood to have been divine; but authority also resides in the credentials of those to whom it was revealed (Mordecai was, of course, dubbed a member of the Great Assembly).7 But this list represents the outcome of a process that began much earlier. The Jewish historian Josephus (first century C E ) in his Against Apion 1.8, attributes the earliest part of the history of the Jews (‘‘from the origin of humanity until his death’’) to Moses, and the subsequent history to the prophets (until the time of Artaxerxes, after which he did not deem the history to be as authoritative). Josephus’ point is presumably that since the content was divinely inspired, it was only appropriate that this revelation was accorded to those fit to receive it, since he states also that the Jews ‘‘justly’’ regard these books as ‘‘divine.’’ (Hence, he claims that Jewish history is more reliable than others!) Legends from the second to first centuries B C E also relate to the preservation of these books, at a moment when there was some anxiety about their possible loss. In 2 Maccabees 2:13–15, Judas Maccabee is said to have collected the scrolls ‘‘lost because of the war,’’ just as Nehemiah had earlier founded a library in which he collected ‘‘books about kings and prophets, writings of David and letters of kings about votive offerings.’’ Later, in the aftermath of the revolt against Rome, 4 Ezra 14 is also concerned that ‘‘the Law has been burnt.’’ In response, he is told to take five men and many tablets, and to depart for forty days. He is given a supernatural drink that increases his wisdom and memory, whereupon he dictates to the five scribes the entire contents of ninety-four books. Thus the twenty-four books of scripture are restored, as well as seventy other dictated books that are to remain hidden. Ezra thus becomes the spurious scribe of a large number of non-scriptural books, many of which are presumably now known as Jewish Pseudepigrapha.8

6

7

8

The ‘‘Great Assembly’’ bridges the gap from prophets to the first (proto-)rabbinic teachers: it commences with the ‘‘Return from Exile’’). See e.g. the Targum to Song of Songs 7:3 (English translation by Gollancz, Targum to the Song of Songs. An internet translation by Jay Treat is available at . See Charlesworth, Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, I , pp. 517–59 (translation by Bruce Metzger).

Spurious attribution in the Hebrew Bible

265

So much for legends about writing, copying, and transmission; there are also claims about translation: the Letter of Aristeas is a legendary account of how the books of Moses were translated into Greek by order of King Ptolemy II (285–247 B C E ). Seventy-two translators were brought from Jerusalem and set to work independently, reaching an agreed translation after comparing their results, after seventy-two days’ work (301–11). The purpose of this narrative is presumably to accord to the Greek translation an authoritative status in its own right; a curse is laid on anyone who would alter a word of it.9 Here we have a clear case of spurious attribution (would Jerusalem have better Greek speakers than Alexandria?), though many scholars conclude that it contains a kernel of truth: certainly a translation was made, probably at about this time. So much for spurious attributions that seek to protect the authoritative status of the Jewish scriptures. These relate to a scripture already established, and represent an easily understood phenomenon which needs to be comprehended but not to be taken as reliable historical testimony. More interesting are the spurious attributions in the Hebrew Bible itself. I shall consider the major instances, classified according to the persons invoked and the literature assigned to them. Moses The heart of the claim of Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch is the book of Deuteronomy, which is the preeminent instance of biblical pseudepigraphy. Its opening verse announces it as the ‘‘words’’ given by Moses shortly before Israel’s entry into Canaan. When Ben Sira (24:25) refers to the ‘‘scroll/book of Moses,’’ and not ‘‘(five) scrolls of Moses,’’ he probably means Deuteronomy.10 At the beginning of the nineteenth century, the German scholar W. M. L. de Wette identified Deuteronomy with the lawbook said to have been discovered in the Jerusalem temple in the reign of Josiah (2 Kings 22), in support of his argument that the law was a later, and not an original, element in this history of Hebrew religion,11 and this has 9

10

11

From this legend comes the name given to the standard Greek translation of the entire Hebrew Bible (i.e. not just the books of Moses): ‘‘Septuagint.’’ For an English translation, see Charlesworth, Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, I I , pp. 7–11 (translation by R. J. H. Shutt). Likewise, when questioned about divorce in Matthew 19:7–8 // Mark 10:2–4, both the Pharisees and Jesus speak of Moses having given the command. Divorce is alluded to only in Deuteronomy (22:19, 29; 24:1, 3). De Wette’s work has never been translated into English, but an account may be found in most scholarly textbooks on Deuteronomy (e.g. Clements, Deuteronomy, p. 70; Nicholson, Pentateuch, pp. 5–6.

266

PHILIP R. DAVIES

remained the standard scholarly view; Moses had nothing to do with the writing of Deuteronomy. But while the lawbook story is followed by the account of a reform along the lines of Deuteronomy’s contents, it does not describe the book itself as Mosaic, which is rather a strange omission. The Chronicles version (2 Chronicles 34) does attribute the book to Moses, but does not mention a religious reform based on Deuteronomy! Indeed, wherever Chronicles mentions the laws of Moses, it seems to be referring to cultic regulations such as are found in Numbers. So it seems to be that two biblical authors had different ‘‘Mosaic’’ lawbooks. It is apparent, anyway, that Deuteronomy does not come from a single author. In the law collection itself, chapters 12–26, the narrator makes no mention of or allusion to his identity. But there are allusions to a time setting: the people addressed (or their ancestors) were once slaves in Egypt and were brought out (13:5, 10; 16:1–6); they had assembled on the mountain of Horeb (18:16) and were moving to a land to destroy its inhabitants and their culture and settle there. A few episodes are mentioned, such as a lack of hospitality from Ammonites and Moabites, cursing by Balaam (23:4), and an engagement with Amalekites (25:17–19). There are, however, two introductions, each clearly marked with a heading: 1:1–4:43 and 4:44–11:34, as well as supplements beginning at 29:1 and 33:1. The second introduction (4:44–49) provides a rough historical setting to what is now definitely presented as a speech by Moses. The preceding introduction in 1:1–3 is even more precise and puts a date and location on it: ‘‘These are the words that Moses spoke to all Israel beyond the Jordan, in the wilderness, in the plain opposite Suph, between Paran and Tophel, Laban, Hazeroth, and Di-zahab . . . In the fortieth year, on the first day of the eleventh month . . .’’ The attentive reader will also notice discrepancies between the contents of Deuteronomy and Exodus (‘‘Horeb’’ for ‘‘Sinai’’; additional laws, variations in the Ten Commandments), suggesting that Moses, if he had written both books, had contradicted himself. If he had written only Deuteronomy, the issue might rather be the reliability of his memory. But the differences in either case led one perceptive scribe to ask, ‘‘Which is the covenant we are supposed to keep?’’ The heading at 29:1 is his solution to this problem: ‘‘These are the words of the covenant that Yahweh commanded Moses to make . . . in addition to the covenant that he had made with them at Horeb.’’ So there were two separate covenants! There remain, however, unresolved questions, not only about Moses and Deuteronomy12 but Moses and the cultic laws in Leviticus. In Leviticus 12

For a thorough but rather technical investigation of the origin of the ‘‘Ten Commandments’’ and associated narratives, see Aaron, Etched in Stone.

Spurious attribution in the Hebrew Bible

267

10:8 Yahweh speaks to Aaron; in 11:1, 13:1, and 15:1 he speaks to Moses and Aaron; but elsewhere Moses acts as the intermediary between Yahweh and Aaron. Has Moses displaced his brother as the intermediary of the priestly cultic regulations? Indeed, were these originally assigned to any human recipient? The literary history of the Pentateuch has produced no scholarly consensus, except that its attribution to Moses took place over a long time, and in various stages. Indeed, the character of Moses himself developed considerably over time; he became a military leader, lawgiver and prophet, and during the Hellenistic period was celebrated by Jews (and some nonJews) as a philosopher, compared with Plato, who was said by one ancient writer to be ‘‘Moses speaking in Attic Greek.’’13 But spurious authorship is not the only issue here: there are wider deceptions, beginning with the ‘‘discovery’’ of the lawbook in 2 Kings 22. Stories about the ‘‘accidental’’ finding of ‘‘lost’’ books are well known in antiquity, and the device is often used to ‘‘explain’’ how it is that recently authored writings were in fact produced long ago. These ‘‘discoveries’’ may sometimes have been actually staged, but some might be quite fictional, as probably here, since there is no other record or hint of such an event. The legend was probably composed during the fifth century B C E to prove that the contents of Deuteronomy went back to before the Babylonian exile and had been endorsed by a righteous king.14 The later attribution to Moses himself, as we have seen, comes only in the writings of the Chronicler, around the beginning of the fourth century B C E . Deuteronomy itself (17:18–20) prescribes that each Israelite king shall receive a copy of ‘‘this law’’ copied under the supervision of the levitical priests; Josiah’s fictional imprimatur would illustrate and underline this principle – perhaps even inaugurate it. But would a king himself really have endorsed a book that transferred his powers to make war and create law to the priesthood? That transfer of power did occur later – but only when native kings had ceased to rule and the Jerusalem temple became the focus of Jewish national identity. In another fiction, the Chronicler creates the same transitions by assigning the temple design and operation to David, contradicting the author of Kings, who gave Solomon the credit. We can go further: how much of the contents of the books of Moses is spurious history? Ancient Near Eastern, Greek, and Hellenistic accounts of 13

14

The quotation is attributed to Numenius, the second-century C E Pythagorean philosopher. Many Hellenized Jews explicitly or implicitly made the same comparison, including Philo of Alexandria (implicitly). A detailed comparison of other book ‘‘discoveries’’ with that under Josiah can be found in Droge, ‘‘Lying Pen of the Scribes,’’ and Stott, ‘‘Finding the Lost Book of the Law.’’

268

PHILIP R. DAVIES

the past merged myth, legend, and fact indiscriminately; similarly, Genesis begins with the creation of the world and the original humans. When does it reach what we would call ‘‘history’’? If recent archaeology in Israel is to be accepted, virtually nothing, for Israel began in Palestine somewhere around 1200 B C E . The patriarchs, exodus, and conquest of Canaan are, at best, scraps of memory or invention that have been artificially assembled into a national epic.15 The survey conducted after Israel’s occupation of the West Bank ironically revealed that the populations that were to form the kingdoms of Israel and Judah came either from Palestine itself or from close by, and settled only at the beginning of the Iron Age (c. 1250–1200 B C E ), leaving the whole biblical tradition of patriarchs, exodus, and wilderness wandering highly problematic. As for conquest, there is no trace of any simultaneous destruction of Canaanite sites at this time. As explained by Finkelstein and Silberman, the entire ‘‘Mosaic’’ tradition is the invention of a later period. Does this mean that Moses himself must be a spurious figure? The Moses of the Pentateuch almost certainly is – though a historical counterpart might yet be found at another time and place, perhaps as the founder of the mysterious levitical ‘‘Mushite’’ priestly clan mentioned in Numbers 26:58. This clan seems to resurface in the book of Judges, where we are told (18:30) that Jonathan son of Gershom, son of Moses, and his sons were priests to the tribe of the Danites until the time the land went into captivity. Work out the chronology! Like that of some Israelite priests, such as Hophni and Phinehas, the name ‘‘Moses’’ is Egyptian, and while this fact in itself requires some historical explanation, it may in turn have helped to generate part of the exodus story. Like many deceptions, while we know that what we are told is wrong, we are never likely to find out the real truth. David and Solomon The figures of David and Solomon have also attracted a good deal of spurious attribution. As with Moses, we can see both how this attribution has been applied to writings that originally did not bear it, and also how this attribution has itself been worked into narratives about them. It is not necessarily the case that the stories of David as musician or Solomon as wise simply provided the inspiration for the attributions; the stories and the literary collections may well have interacted and influenced one another.16 15 16

Finkelstein and Silberman, Bible Unearthed. An account of how this process may have come about through the formation of Davidic and Solomonic ‘‘canons’’ can be found in Davies, Scribes and Schools, pp. 126–41.

Spurious attribution in the Hebrew Bible

269

Attribution of the Psalms to David is achieved in three related ways. Some psalms are headed ‘‘Psalms of David,’’ though the Hebrew phrase ledavid leaves it open whether this of itself imputes authorship, dedication, or imitation. Authorship is undoubtedly claimed for psalms whose headings specify the occasion of writing, drawn from episodes in the stories in the books of Samuel. Examples of this are Psalms 57, 60, and 63. Then there are those stories themselves, in which David appears (among other guises) as a musician in Saul’s court (1 Samuel 16:14ff.; 18:10; 19:9f.) He even sings a lament over the death of Saul and Jonathan (2 Samuel 1:17). These indications are embellished in the books of Chronicles, where David is credited with the creation of the entire temple hymnody, and this trajectory is extended further still in one of the Dead Sea Scrolls (11QCompDav, lines 2–6): Now David was the son of Jesse, wise, and a light like the light of the sun; [and] a sage, learned and perfect in all his ways before God and humans. And Yahweh gave him a spirit of intelligence and enlightenment, and he composed psalms: three thousand six hundred; and songs for singing in front of the altar at the Tamid offering every single day, every day of the year, three hundred and sixty four; and for the offering on sabbaths: fifty two songs; and for the offering at the beginnings of the months and all festival days and for the day of atonement: thirty songs. And all the songs that he composed totalled four hundred and forty six. And songs to be sung over those afflicted: four. And the total was four thousand and fifty. All these he composed by the spirit of prophecy . . .17

Just over half of the Psalms in the Bible (Hebrew text) have ‘‘of/to/for David’’ in the heading. The end of Psalm 72, ‘‘The prayers of David son of Jesse are ended,’’ suggests a distinct Davidic collection (though Psalm 72 itself has the heading ‘‘of/to/for Solomon’’!) but also that others are not Davidic. Of the ‘‘Davidic’’ psalm headings, fourteen add biographical allusions. In the Greek translation, the total increases to twenty-one, and the Qumran Cave 11 Psalms scroll appears to have even more. One can see how the notion that David composed all the Psalms developed, and with it an attempt to ‘‘historicize’’ them by relating more of them to events in his life. Solomon is credited with three books: Proverbs, the Song of Songs, and Ecclesiastes. The heading to the whole book of Proverbs simply states, ‘‘The proverbs of Solomon son of David, king of Israel’’; but inside we also find ‘‘The Proverbs of Solomon’’ again in 10:1, but also ‘‘The Words of the Wise’’ at 22:17. The heading in 25:1 is ‘‘These too are the proverbs of Solomon which the men of Hezekiah king of Judah copied,’’ while 30:1 reads ‘‘The words of Agur, son of Jakeh,’’ and 31:1 ‘‘The words of Lemuel, 17

The text can be found in Garcia Mart´ınez, Dead Sea Scrolls, p. 309.

270

PHILIP R. DAVIES

king of Massa. An oracle that his mother taught him.’’ As with Psalms, there is more than one collection, and the attribution spreads from one collection to the rest. The Solomonic attributions of the two other books occur differently. Solomon is sometime referred to in the Song of Songs, and we have the statement in 1 Kings 11:11 that ‘‘King Solomon loved many foreign women’’ – but the Shunammite woman of the Song is not foreign! Perhaps it was quickly understood as a fable or allegory, and thus assigned to the father of Jewish wisdom. More likely, this was done by linking it with the only candidate available. The author of Ecclesiastes, on the other hand, makes an explicit claim: ‘‘The words of the Orator [Hebrew Qoheleth, Greek Ekklesiastes], the son of David, king in Jerusalem,’’ and 2:7–9 further seems to point to this figure; this is not a later pious tradition but an authorial ruse. The book’s general argument, its attack on traditional teaching, and its skepticism regarding divine providence, suggest that the attribution was ironic – though later taken in earnest, and eased by the insertion of the some conventionally pious comments, and some ‘‘health warnings’’ to the reader at the end (12:11–13). As we did with Moses, we should also ask: Are David and Solomon themselves spurious? A heated scholarly row is at present raging on just this issue. Certainly there is no archaeological record of a great Israelite ‘‘empire’’ ruled from Jerusalem. Again, Finkelstein and Silberman have written a popular account of the implications of archaeology for this debate, and have suggested that the stories of these kings are largely legendary. They have even tried to illustrate, somewhat ambitiously but still entertainingly, how the legends grew in each generation. Indeed, these questions raise doubts as to whether the kingdoms of Israel and Judah ever did form a single political and social entity. If not, did a twelve-tribe nation of Israel exist at all? At present the scale on which the biblical ‘‘history’’ deviates from what we can nowadays accept as historical fact probably has not been fully appreciated, but no doubt in the coming years a furious battle can be predicted. In any other field of ancient history, such questions would be hotly debated, but would remain of largely academic interest. But the Bible is invested with so much religious and cultural commitment that debate cannot take place without the intrusion of claims about authority, inspiration, and so on. Such arguments can never be free of special pleading and specious argumentation, inside as well as outside the academic field.18 But at least that makes the subject of continuing interest. 18

The general public, even the intelligent and educated public, continues to be misinformed by apparently scholarly books that purvey the comfortable claim that the Bible is after all historically

Spurious attribution in the Hebrew Bible

271

Prophets Did the prophets write their books? Are they all real historical characters? Here too we have some interesting issues. Whether these prophets all really existed is impossible to say. Only Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Jonah figure outside the books that bear their names. Nine of these prophetic books have a superscription giving date and name: Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel (in a fashion), Hosea, Amos, Micah, Zephaniah, Haggai, and Zechariah. (Jonah is not a book of prophecy but a story, based on a minor character in 2 Kings 14:25 and pretty obviously a neat, fictional satire on prophetic hypocrisy and divine unreliability.) Most of the superscriptions follow an identical formula and have obviously been added at a later editorial stage; since they were not originally transmitted with the contents, they may have been deduced from historical references within the books rather than preserving any reliable information. Six other books have just a name and no date or further description; whether the names are reliable or even real we simply cannot say. ‘‘Malachi’’ is probably a pure invention, created to make up the number of ‘‘minor prophets’’ to twelve; the name simply means ‘‘my messenger.’’ The standard scholarly view of the formation of prophetic books is that the words of real prophets were remembered, then written down, and over time edited and supplemented, as linguistic, stylistic, and ideological analysis reveal. Certainly, prophets in the ancient Near East produced written texts; in Assyria and at Mari short messages, usually in the form of letters to the king, have been found in the archives.19 But no prophetic scrolls have come to light. In this important sense biblical prophecy is different; it is essentially an ongoing literary phenomenon, something kept alive, developed, compiled into scrolls. So what is their continuing relevance? Past predictions of dead prophets are of no historical value. But their contents, unlike their Mesopotamian counterparts, are less about prediction than about social and religious critique, and therein seems to lie their value. The best explanation for the existence of such works is that collections of words from dead prophets were turned into vehicles for later scribes to voice their own social critique; having an Amos or a Hosea or a Jeremiah lambast cult, priest, king, and nation was safe as long as these criticisms apparently related to an earlier time. It’s a kind of samizdat culture.

19

reliable, or should at least be so treated. It is up to the public to decide whether it wants the full picture or prefers to remain cocooned in warm assurances. For the latter, books such as Provan, Long, and Longman III, Biblical History of Israel, can be recommended. Enthusiastic readers might nevertheless ask what they would think of a ‘‘Homeric History of Greece’’ or a ‘‘Virgilian History of Rome’’ (even a ‘‘Shakespearian History of England’’) as a reliable account of what really happened. An excellent essay on this topic is Nissinen, ‘‘Spoken, Quoted, Written and Invented.’’

272

PHILIP R. DAVIES

This device, quite definitely a species of pseudonymy, of specious attribution, became especially important in the Persian and Hellenistic period, when the Judean religion was increasingly controlled by texts, and further prophecy was frowned upon; it was safer kept in the past and contained in written texts – which eventually were not expanded or altered any further. Opponents of this view argue that the prophetic texts are ancient because they talk about kings. But that is precisely why they largely come from a later age! The prophets, as a consequence, often end up saying things that they would never have dreamed of. (Amos, for instance, instead of predicting total annihilation for Israel, as most of his oracles contend, ends up promising a glorious future for Judah. Isaiah proclaims the Persian king Cyrus as Yahweh’s messiah.) Biblical prophecy (or at least a good deal of it) is one of the most interesting kind of spurious attribution in the Bible that we have. Daniel Daniel deserves special mention because this book has become a rallying point for literalists. In the third century C E the philosopher Porphyry had already declared the book a forgery from the time of Antiochus IV, the Syrian king who defiled the Jerusalem temple in 167 BC E . Porphyry’s view has since becomes scholarly orthodoxy. The claim that Daniel wrote the whole book is a little odd, since only chapters 7–12 are written in the first person under Daniel’s name, the remainder being stories about him and his colleagues. But one of these stories (chapter 4) is also told in the first person, in the name of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon. A similar account is found in a text from Qumran (4QPrNab/4Q242) – written, like Daniel 3, in Aramaic – in which the author is purported to be Nabonidus, the successor of Nebuchadnezzar.20 It tells of his meeting with an unnamed Judean, who cures him of a disease after he has been afflicted for seven years. Unless the stories are miraculously coincidental, they have a common origin; it is likelier that the Qumran version represents an earlier form, since the general rule in such tales is for unnamed characters to become named and for lesser-known characters to be replaced by better-known ones. In fact, we can be fairly certain in this case. The Qumran text says that Nabonidus was ‘‘banished’’ and lived in Teima, which agrees with Babylonian traditions about him. No such story ever attached to 20

For the English translation, see Mart´ınez, Dead Sea Scrolls, p. 289.

Spurious attribution in the Hebrew Bible

273

Nebuchadnezzar. Hence the story was inspired by a historical fact, but seems to have circulated independently before being incorporated into the biblical book with its chief characters transformed. Those, incidentally, who insist that Daniel did write the book ought to insist that Nebuchadnezzar, not Daniel, wrote chapter 4! Daniel is very obviously a work of pseudepigraphy, belonging to a very popular genre of writing in the Hellenistic era, not just in Judah. What we may call ‘‘pseudo-prophecies’’ were assigned to figures of the past, whose astonishingly correct predictions of everything up to the present gave credence to the genuine predictions that followed. In the case of Daniel, we can see exactly when chapter 11 was written, because after a correct (if sometimes cryptic) account of the events of the late third and early second centuries B C E , the ‘‘prediction’’ goes wrong at verse 40. This kind of writing is sometimes called ‘‘apocalyptic’’ because it purports to be a revelation (apokalupsis) of things otherwise unknowable, usually the immediate future. There are numerous examples, as already noted, among the Jewish Pseudepigrapha. Many of these works, including Daniel itself, have a much less accurate account of the history of earlier periods (closer to the time they were supposed to have been written): for example, Daniel incorrectly represents Darius the Persian king as a Mede (11:1). We may well wonder whether the authors and readers of these ‘‘pseudoprophecies’’ really believed the fiction. Perhaps we should ask ourselves whether modern readers of horoscopes in the popular press really believe that astrology is science rather than entertainment or superstition. If the point of these pseudonymous texts is to make an argument about how the world and its history is really run, how it makes sense despite appearances, then we can understand how they were intended to communicate, even when they were regarded as fictional. Perhaps it is neither the original authors who are deceptive nor their first readers who are deceived: the gullible victims are those who come later, whose dogma invests these texts with the aura of infallibility. This is self-deception. A final category of spurious authorship should be mentioned: false historical documents. The book of Ezra contains a number of citations of what claim to be official Persian documents: a decree of Cyrus (Ezra 1:1–4), a letter from Artaxerxes (3:17–22), and a decree of Darius (6:2–12, incorporating a decree of Cyrus, verses 2–5). There has always been scholarly argument about the authenticity of these, but the tide seems recently to have turned fairly decisively against. Hardly anyone denies that the Aramaic of these documents in places reflects a later period, or that there

274

PHILIP R. DAVIES

are unmistakable elements of Judean propaganda that such decrees are unlikely to have contained. If the possibility remains that there were authentic documents that have been altered, then they are still not genuine; in truth, they are just as likely to have been made up as to have been rewritten.21 There are references elsewhere in the Bible to other possibly spurious sources such as the ‘‘book of the kings of Israel [and Judah]’’ (1 Chronicles 9:1; 16:11, etc.), or the ‘‘book of Jashar’’ (Joshua 10:13; 2 Samuel 1:18); or the ‘‘book of the wars of Yahweh’’ (Numbers 21:14). While the first of these might refer to the biblical books of Kings, the others are unknown. On the one hand, we have no specific reasons to doubt their existence; on the other hand, we have plenty of evidence that such inventions were part of the ancient literary repertoire. So we shall probably never know whether they existed; and in truth it is hard to see that a decision matters in this case. And what of the spuriousness of the characters and events in Ezra and Nehemiah? These are serious questions. For example, the animosity apparent in Nehemiah between Judeans and Samarians seems to be contradicted by the facts that both Judeans and Samarians share virtually an identical Pentateuch, and that modern historians of the Samaritans conclude that the breach between them and the Judeans occurred at a date later than Nehemiah. Again, it seems curious that an officially appointed Persian delegate skulks around at night (2:12–13), and that neighboring officials do not seem to be aware of his mission. Most scholars, however, regard these questions as minor problems and do not deem Nehemiah himself to be a spurious figure, accepting also that the ‘‘words of Nehemiah’’ (1:1) really are his. But the grounds for treating everything said about Nehemiah with a certain degree of suspicion are quite firm, and one wonders whether a similar character in a different literary and historical setting would be quite so generously treated. Ezra is a more straightforward case. First, although he is supposed to be around at the same time as Nehemiah, and their missions overlap, he and Nehemiah meet only once (in Nehemiah 8–9). Second, Ben Sira, the Jerusalem scribe, mentions Nehemiah (49:13) but not Ezra – a very curious omission: Ezra would certainly have been a hero to such an author. Likewise the author of 2 Maccabees (1:20–36) knows of Nehemiah but not of Ezra. Although most scholars probably prefer to accept that there 21

A good summary of the arguments about these documents can be found in Grabbe, Ezra-Nehemiah, pp. 128–32.

Spurious attribution in the Hebrew Bible

275

really was an Ezra, his historical existence is perhaps more accurately conveyed in the lists of returning exiles given in Nehemiah 12:13 and 33, where he is simply a name, though in 12:36 he seems to lead a musical procession and in 12:26 he has been promoted alongside Nehemiah. A good case can be made here for seeing him as being integrated, and not very elegantly, into the Nehemiah story at a late stage. The existence of this second Moses, then, is historically as complicated as that of the first Moses, and perhaps even more unlikely. At all events, there can hardly be any doubt that Ezra and Nehemiah have been brought together only literarily, and clumsily at that; had they really been colleagues there would surely have been a more coherent and connected account of their activities. CONCLUSION

On the whole, the Old Testament, when measured against a yardstick of ‘‘authenticity,’’ fails as often as it passes. It is full of spurious attributions and spurious events. On balance, its history is more invented than recorded. But to state this bald conclusion is to follow the logic of the fundamentalist. The issue is not really to be framed in this way. In the culture and mentality of ancient readers, where such things mattered less, reliable knowledge about the past was both unattainable and immaterial. To discover what these fictions reveal about their real authors and readers, what was genuinely being communicated, is a fascinating task, but not one for those whose religious attachment obliges them only to see matters in terms of black or white, false versus genuine. We are dealing not with an unreliable set of documents but with a culture in which historical reliability simply does not count or matter, any more than the discourse of politicians deals with truth. (We nevertheless usually find ourselves acting as if we believed them.) If the religious value of the Bible is dependent on its factuality, then there is little value to it. For fiction much of it is, as are many of its implied authors. Some of it is deliberate falsification; some of it merely reflects cultural conventions and will not have deceived intelligent readers. Most of the spurious attributions are post factum, the product of a pious literality. It is this attitude that makes nonsense of the Bible, not the informed critical judgment that tries to make sense of texts whose cultural world was deeply immersed in invention and fantasy and whose authors saw no reason to disappoint their readers with the literal truth – even if they had been able to know what that truth was.

276

PHILIP R. DAVIES REFERENCES

Aaron, David, Etched in Stone: The Emergence of the Decalogue (New York: Continuum, 2006). Charlesworth, James H. (ed.), The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, 2 vols. (New York: Doubleday, 1983–5). Clements, Ronald E., Deuteronomy, Old Testament Guides (Sheffield: JSOT Press, 1989). Danby, Herbert, The Mishnah (Oxford: Oxford University Press, corrected reprint 1933, 1980). Davies, Philip R., Scribes and Schools: The Canonization of the Hebrew Scriptures (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 1998). Droge, Arthur J., ‘‘The Lying Pen of the Scribes’’: Of Holy Books and Pious Frauds,’’ Method and Theory in the Study of Religion 15 (2003), pp. 117–47. Finkelstein, Israel, and Neil Asher Silberman, The Bible Unearthed (New York: The Free Press, 2001). Garcia Mart´ınez, Florentino, The Dead Sea Scrolls Translated, 2nd edn. (Leiden: Brill, 1994). Gollancz, Herbert, The Targum to the Song of Songs (London: Luzac, 1908). Grabbe, Lester L. Ezra-Nehemiah (London: Routledge, 1998). Nicholson, Ernest W., The Pentateuch in the Twentieth Century (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998). Nissinen, Martti, ‘‘Spoken, Quoted, Written and Invented: Orality and Writtenness in Ancient Near Eastern Prophecy,’’ in Ehud Ben Zvi and Michael Floyd (eds.), Writings and Speech in Israelite and Ancient Eastern Prophecy (Atlanta, GA: Society of Biblical Literature, 2000), pp. 235–71. Pritchard, James B., Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament, 3rd edn. With supplement (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1974). Provan, Iain, V. Phillips Long, and Tremper Longman III, A Biblical History of Israel (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2003). Stott, Katharine, ‘‘Finding the Lost Book of the Law: Rereading the Story of the ‘Book of the Law’ in Light of Classical Literature,’’ Journal for the Study of the Old Testament 30/2 (2005), pp. 153–69. Wyrick, Jed, The Ascension of Authorship: Attribution and Canon Formation in Jewish, Hellenistic, and Christian Traditions (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2004).

CHAPTER

14

Inventing Paganisms: making nature Graham Harvey

In the 1790s Iolo Morganwg produced a set of ‘‘ancient texts’’ that presented the lineage, organization, cosmology, and rituals of Druidry. He was part of a movement that was asserting the vitality of Welsh language and culture as a contribution to the contemporary form of British multiculturalism. Or rather, perhaps this was the first modern attempt to counter the hegemony of English language and culture over the peoples of the British Isles, and the first experiment in celebrating the plurality of British identity and culture. Rituals were performed on Primrose Hill in London as well as at other locations of alleged significance to ancient Druids and their descendants in every generation, especially in Wales. Some of these rituals (re)claimed for Druidry the henge monuments and stone circles that decorate the land; others required the erection of new standing stones and the construction of new venues for the performance, display, and improvement of bardic arts. Iolo was not alone; his traditions and liturgies found ready acceptance not only among Welsh groups but also among English, Cornish, and Breton celebrants of antique and noble rites and poetry. Perhaps the acceptance of his texts and his Druidry was facilitated (among the Welsh at least) by their fit with the pervasive nonconformist Christianity of Wales, and (among some of the English at least) by their intersections with aspects of contemporary esotericism. Iolo’s ‘‘Druid’s Prayer,’’ for example, begins, ‘‘Grant O God thy protection,’’ and also seeks strength, understanding, knowledge, the knowledge and love of justice, and the love of ‘‘all existences’’ and of ‘‘God and all goodness.’’ He also details a tripartite cosmology that can be read as Christian or esotericist – and now as Pagan or even shamanistic. There are also moments in his work that would have surprised not only his contemporaries but also some later generations. For example, his association of ancient stone circles with an indigenous religious tradition rather than with Roman civilization was not commonplace at the time. His association of Druids with justice, goodness, God, and poetic excellence, rather than 277

278

GRAHAM HARVEY

with the savagery of human sacrifice and the debauchery of ‘‘heathen’’ ceremonies, remained unusual – except among Welsh, Cornish, and Breton cultural movements – for at least another century. Druids were not yet the eccentric but noble figures that they became. Scholars and others have debated what is invented and what is inherited in Iolo’s work (although sometimes it seems obvious). But it is also interesting to ask what survives in the continuing evolution of the various cultures in which the term ‘‘Druid’’ bears increasingly diverse associations and produces increasingly distinct resonances. While Iolo’s inspiration continues to inform the Welsh Eisteddfodau and their associated Gorseddau, in which people compete in poetic, literary, and musical performances, it is also cited by self-identified Pagan Druids of various orders. This chapter engages not only, or even principally, with Iolo and Druids, but with the invention of various Paganisms of the present day and recent past. It engages with some significant moments of invention and, at least equally importantly, their reconsideration under the impact of alternative narratives. It ponders why the detection and exposure of acts of deliberate invention do not always (or often) destroy a religious movement. PAGANISM’S NATURE AND DIVERSITY

Paganism is the name for a series of religious traditions that have gained in popularity among practitioners, the media, and scholarly observers in recent decades.1 A variety of movements coexist under the umbrella term ‘‘Paganism’’ with varying degrees of mutual recognition or rejection. These include more organized networks such as those self-identifying as Druidry, Goddess Spirituality, Heathenry, Wicca, and Witchcraft. They also include more ad hoc networks such as those labeled Eco-Paganism, various forms of Reconstructionism (i.e. of Celtic, Egyptian, Greek, Norse, and other ancient Paganisms), and Teen Witchcraft. Then there are Pagans (inside or outside of networks) who can be identified by a particular practice, such as of magic or shamanism. Particularly following the decay of the former Soviet empire, a host of ‘‘ethnic Paganisms’’ have become evident in, for instance, Estonia, Lithuania, and the Ukraine. It is most often claimed that what connects these various Paganisms is ‘‘nature’’ or the celebration of ‘‘nature,’’ but the revitalization of ‘‘ancestral’’ or ‘‘pre-Christian’’ religious traditions is unifying for some Pagans 1

Harvey, Listening People.

Inventing Paganisms

279

(particularly the Reconstructionist or ethnic ones). Both of these unifying loci will be of importance throughout this chapter, but brief paragraphs on their problematic character may suggest themes that require further consideration. Somewhat paradoxically, it has become increasingly clear (not only to Pagans or in relation to Paganisms) that ‘‘nature’’ is culturally and socially constructed. It is an invention that is persuasively presented as a given, something primordial and ‘‘natural.’’ The history of this invention is entangled with the evolution of modernity in the European and Eurocolonial Enlightenment and Romanticism, and is evident in movements as distinct as nationalism, naturalism, naturism, transcendentalism, colonialism, Marxism, Christian proselytism, and more. ‘‘Nature’’ is part of these movements, and part of Pagan discourse and ceremonialism, precisely as a rhetorical contrast with ‘‘culture’’ – and yet it is entirely culturally determined. Nature is not natural but cultural, not given but invented, not neutral but celebrated or denigrated, not objective but fully participative in the dialogical, co-creative process that is culture. Coterminously, notional links between ethnicity and religion (or particular religions – whether varieties of Paganism or of Sikhism) may also be presented as natural but have roots in the specific culture arising from the Enlightenment. On the other hand, while ‘‘reconstruction’’ may be watchwords of particular Pagans, they are rarely if ever taken to be as straightforward as an outsider might judge. That is, an observer may be tempted to belittle the very idea that an ancient religion can be fully revived centuries, if not millennia, after it was last practiced. However, those who make claims about their engagement with the ‘‘old religion’’ of their ancestors, or that of the ancestors who lived in a location, may intend something far more complex than observers may impute. They are usually fully aware of the disjunctions between the past and the present, and they are often explicit that museum and literary resources are less than adequate as sources of knowledge about religious ideas, performance, and material culture. In short, while the centrality of nature and ancestral traditions are of inestimable importance in understanding Pagan identities, practices, cosmology, and religioning, they are not uncontested, undebated, or unexamined among Pagans. Just as ‘‘observance’’ is both the center and the dividing point among Jews, and ‘‘Jesus Christ’’ both unifies and divides Christians, so nature and tradition are the common ground and the contested territory of Paganisms. They are the focus for that which inspires and requires continuous creativity or, if need be, invention.

280

GRAHAM HARVEY INVENTING PAGAN DRUIDRY

If Iolo Morganwg was party to the invention of eighteenth- to nineteenthcentury Welsh cultural Druidry, the process did not end with him. The mid-twentieth century saw English Druidry become Pagan and then witnessed the proliferation of Pagan Druid orders in many other countries. The creation of self-identified Pagan Witchcraft was undoubtedly one element in this process, but so too were various notions of ancestry (e.g. as ethnicity or as ‘‘spiritual inheritance’’), popular interest in archaeology and heritage sites, the popularization and democratization of esoteric traditions, and growing concerns with environmentalism. Each of these impetuses both was generated by and then itself generated new practices, knowledges, and traditions, and combinations of such impetuses inspired new traditions, all of which are worthy of consideration. However, among these, one interesting cause of diversity and creativity arose from conflicting attractions toward what can be labeled universalism and particularism, or the partially overlapping calls of globalization and localization. Iolo’s Druid Prayer is addressed to a singular deist divinity, and his Druidry was made available to everyone regardless of location, ethnicity, or economic or social location. It has also been taken up by those who consider Druidry to be a philosophy available to people regardless of religion. Despite the clear signs of nonconformist Christianity in Iolo’s literary output and ceremonial choreography, there are self-identified Druids who consider it possible to be a Christian Druid or a Buddhist Druid, or an atheist, monotheist, pantheist, or polytheistic Druid. This kind of Druidry, like many forms of Christianity, can be practiced in the same way anywhere by anyone. In contrast to this style of Druidry, other Druids (sometimes in the same orders) felt the call of particular places or locations. Some established orders focused on new ceremonial traditions suitable only in specific locations or landscapes. In the 1960s and 1970s a number of orders were established in the West Country of England, especially in the counties of Wiltshire and Somerset in the neighborhood of Stonehenge and Glastonbury. One key moment in this process arose because of a disjunction between Iolo-style texts and more spontaneous communal practice. After conducting some ceremonies in which he and his group had read from a ritual script that insisted, ‘‘Our tradition is an ancient, honourable and oral tradition,’’ the Chosen Chief of the Secular Order of Druids, Tim Sebastian, began to mark the word ‘‘oral’’ with a flourish that hid the script behind his back. Slowly, his order began to lead a movement encouraging performance, including competitive bardic

Inventing Paganisms

281

events that continue today and seek to encourage an English and popular equivalent to the Welsh Eisteddfod tradition. That this and other English Druid orders make use of Iolo’s list of the ‘‘bardic chairs’’ (competitive venues) alleged to have been inherited from antiquity (but including some that are demonstrably recent or entirely fictitious) is part of the desired creativity of the movement. That is, sometimes Tim Sebastian and others acknowledge that they know that the list has no guarantee of ancient authority. The important point, for them, is that people should be encouraged to celebrate life by engaging in the performing arts in ways that root them in particular locations and times. An alternative trajectory marks the origins and growth of the Reformed Druids of North America (RDNA). This order was invented in 1963 by a group of students in order to test a rule at Carleton College, Northfield, Minnesota, that they must all attend church services. They convinced the authorities that RDNA was a legitimate ‘‘church’’ for these purposes. Having won, many found that the ceremonies they had invented were deeply satisfying. Even after they graduated from the college, some continued to call themselves Druids. They met with other Pagans, the tradition evolved, and RDNA continues to exist in various forms across North America. People like Isaac Bonewits, who first identified as Druids and/or Pagans within RDNA and groups that it inspired, are now prominent in a host of Pagan movements. Thus, a clearly local group has spread because what its founders invented has attracted many others elsewhere. More than this, it is often precisely the fact that this is an invented tradition that is attractive; people are liberated to continue inventing. GARDNER’S WICCA AND OTHERS’ WITCHCRAFT

A few years prior to this explicitly Pagan Druidic ferment, Pagan Witchcraft had been invented. For some time the assertion that Witchcraft was invented in the 1940s was a cause of argument and dissention. However, there are now few who remain to be persuaded by the evidence (admirably presented by Ronald Hutton).2 As in many contemporary societies, to claim to be a ‘‘witch’’ prior to the early twentieth century in Britain was to confess to being a malefactor and to invite lethal violence against oneself. Gerald Gardner changed that by inventing a Witchcraft tradition.3 He did not do so in a vacuum or as a whimsy. Indeed, his ‘‘invention’’ was largely the realization of what others had 2

Hutton, Triumph.

3

E.g. Gardner, Witchcraft Today.

282

GRAHAM HARVEY

imagined. A Pagan Witchcraft tradition that practiced fertility rites and honored pre-Christian deities of the moon and wild places was required by the writings of folklorists like James Frazer and Margaret Murray.4 If an ancient fertility religion had survived the arrival of Christianity and been persecuted as ‘‘Witchcraft’’ in the early modern era, as Murray and others claimed (on the basis of evidence they willingly adjusted to fit the purpose), why should it not exist in the twentieth century? Gardner made it so. To be charitable, it is likely that the weight of current academic and literary opinion persuaded Gardner that a fertility cult robust enough to survive into early modernity might still exist. Perhaps he thought that by gathering friends together, initiating the veneration of the old deities and adapting esoteric magic into a suitable form, he would find other Witches. Certainly he created new Witches. There is little else that is entirely new in Gardner’s work: he took existing ritual and social forms, and theories about nature, magic, energy, gender, and deity, and remolded them into a ‘‘tradition’’ that was attractive and satisfying to many people.5 The ‘‘tradition’’ continued to evolve as other people further adapted Gardner’s structures and practices to their situation, imagination, need, and desire. Some have claimed to be the ‘‘traditional Witches’’ Gardner had hoped to meet. Such claims normally founder on the obvious similarities between what Gardner or his literary predecessors suggested and the putative signs of a distinct tradition. Others have been more open about their creative engagement with the Witchcraft inheritance. Some, for example, have rejected Gardner’s requirement of male–female ‘‘polarity’’ and coworking in magic.6 They have demonstrated, to themselves at least, that same-sex rituals work as well as any other system, and do not seem to project particular cultural understandings on to the divine realm. The divine pantheon may include male and female deities, but they need not replicate precisely the same relationships as Gardner took to be normal or ‘‘natural.’’ Over fifty years after Gardner, the new Witchcraft religion he invented continues to be a creative and lively one, as illustrated by the great diversity of movements and practices that now thrive under the umbrella of ‘‘Witchcraft.’’ This profligate abundance (rarely a source of concern but sometimes a source of rivalry among Witches or other Pagans) can be partly explained by the coexistence of conservatism and radicalism, 4 5 6

Especially see Murray, ‘‘Witchcraft.’’ Some of Gardner’s other sources are available in Clifton and Harvey, Paganism Reader. See Sidhe, ‘‘Drawing Down.’’

Inventing Paganisms

283

tradition and innovation in the movement. Gardner, for example, proffered a movement that was precisely what others would have expected (as evidenced by Margaret Murray’s endorsement of Gardner’s 1954 book Witchcraft Today) even as he encouraged a new, partly hidden subculture. His Witchcraft was, and remains, quite Protestant in encouraging a ‘‘priesthood of all believers’’ (or practitioners, anyway), but almost entirely counter-Protestant in making ritual the center of the whole tradition. Despite centuries of polemic against ‘‘meaningless ritual’’ and ‘‘vain repetition,’’ Paganisms are all about ritual. They are practiced or performed rather than believed or preached. Admittedly, Gardner and many others have produced lists of associations between elements, colors, seasons, deities, and everything else, requiring study and understanding. These can suggest that rituals need to be founded on proper understanding (or doctrine), but the experiences most Pagans value and disseminate have more in common with indigenous ritual cultures than with Protestantism. Even if this ceremonialism was learned from the more elite forms of Victorian and Edwardian esotericism, its evolution in Pagan practice has earthed it in specific locations in ways that establish kinship with indigeneity. HEATHEN RECONSTRUCTIONISM

Some elements and practices of Pagan Druidry and Witchcraft have a considerable amount in common. In part this is due to the friendship and mutual influence of Gerald Gardner and Ross Nichols (even if the latter now seems as self-effacing as the former appears flamboyantly selfpublicizing). Heathenry, however, has been constructed by several generations of practitioners as something distinctively different. It is not only that different deities are venerated (especially as some Witches venerate Saxon deities). Nor is it only that the ritual structures are distinct. Nor is it only the fact that Heathens refer to a corpus of ancient literature (even if it is not all entirely pre-Christian) as sources of knowledge about a real rather than an imagined past. It is perhaps the explicit and frequent reference to deliberate ‘‘reconstruction’’ that is most distinctive. Of course, all these and other elements work together: reconstruction of ritual practices that venerate deities known from ancient texts make Heathenry different in many ways from other Pagan traditions. Heathens speak of ‘‘reconstruction’’ – and even identify a movement of ‘‘Reconstructionism’’ – with an easy sense that this is both necessary and worthy of celebration. They are explicit that they are forming a new

284

GRAHAM HARVEY

contemporary style of Heathenry, fitted to the current era, and using historical and archaeological sources somewhat as poetic inspirations rather than as blueprints. Reconstructionists may use ancient literatures as much as fundamentalists in other religions, but they do so in an entirely opposite manner. The past may provide material from which to construct a new building rather than a foundation on which to remodel the old one in the same place and style. Seidr, a shamanic practice, offers a useful example from the recent evolution of Heathenry. A variety of Icelandic, Norse, Germanic, and Anglo-Saxon sources note a cosmology in which humanity lives in one world among nine that are somehow connected by the ‘‘World Tree,’’ and between which some humans and some other beings (notably the deities) can travel. This already seems to parallel the cosmologies of many cultures that employ shamans as mediators between humans and other-thanhuman persons (deities, animals, and others, sometimes called ‘‘spirits’’). A short passage in the Saga of E´ırik the Red describes what a vo¨lva or seeress wore and carried, and how she responded to the request of a householder for knowledge of the future fortunes of his farm and family. It speaks of a ceremony including a song called Varðlokur that attracted beings who, because of the song, were willing to help. Things become apparent to the vo¨lva that had previously been hidden. Sadly, perhaps, the saga leaves much of this enigmatic – presumably some of it was self-evident to its first readers – because Christianity had already persuaded people that such events were ‘‘idolatrous’’ and to be rejected.7 E´ırik’s Saga offers today’s Heathens some obvious notes about the material accoutrements for shamanism, but does not record the actual song that the vo¨lva deemed absolutely necessary for attracting and mollifying the necessary spirit helpers. Nor does it say whether the vo¨lva became possessed, entered trance, or ‘‘journeyed’’ ecstatically. If this does not create enough problems, clearly the social and cultural context of the ceremony are unlike anything experienced by contemporary Heathens. So, although some deep foundations may be found in the cosmology assumed by this and other texts, and although fragments of ancient Norse Greenlandic shamanic practice are scattered in this saga, the whole construction cannot be rebuilt precisely as it was, especially if it is to be more than a lifeless museum piece. Heathen shamans are compelled, therefore, to be reconstructionists. They necessarily invent what is needed not only to fill gaps in

7

A translation of this section of the saga is included in Clifton and Harvey, Paganism Reader, pp. 45–7.

Inventing Paganisms

285

their knowledge but also to provide a coherent form of practice that will serve the needs of people today. As a result, there are now a number of different forms of Heathen shamanism, often called seidr. Few if any of these are claimed to be the only true method or tradition, and none claim to be exact copies of ancestral practice. Jenny Blain’s discussion of ‘‘Seid-magic’’ eloquently discusses the experimental nature of various approaches to reconstructing North European shamanism.8 Beyond providing an example of a form of ‘‘invention of tradition,’’ this rich and varied experimentation is most interesting because of the ‘‘invention’’ of new forms of community or association. If Heathens no longer live in agricultural and fishing villages as neighbors of people like the vo¨lva of E´ırik’s Saga, they do perceive the need to draw on people who might be labeled shamans. In doing so it is not the experimental creation of ways of shamanizing that is most significant, but the evolution of new forms of assembly. These are at once more individualistic than those suggested in the sagas and more communal than those normative among those who attend workshops to learn how to ‘‘journey within themselves’’ as neo-shamans. Just as the vo¨lva needed the support of a knowledgeable singer (albeit one with limited enthusiasm and some objection to aiding a regression to Heathenry), so contemporary seid workers need helpers. And just as the vo¨lva served a community, so contemporary seid workers serve a community, albeit of a different kind. Certainly some do act on behalf of individual clients, but they expect to do the other-world ‘‘journeying’’ themselves rather than guiding clients on journeys within themselves. That is, Heathen shamans do the shamanizing rather than acting as therapeutic guides. But the most distinctive form of Heathen shamanism now focuses on a practitioner entering trance while seated on a ‘‘high seat,’’ ‘‘journeying’’ to another world to seek answers to questions asked by groups of people. Individuals become an assembly, a group, and even a tradition, as they are bonded in the intensity of ritual, especially in rituals in which questions can be taken to other worlds and answers brought back from powerful other-than-human persons (e.g. deities, ancestors, and ‘‘land-wights’’). The process might not be quite what he had in mind, but it does answer Bruno Latour’s encouragement of the formation of assemblies or associations inclusive not only of humans and other putative persons but also of things and ideas.9 Perhaps this is to be expected among people familiar with the double reference of the word 8

Blain, Nine Worlds.

9

Latour, Politics of Nature.

286

GRAHAM HARVEY

‘‘thing’’ (i.e. to ‘‘objects’’ and to ‘‘representative gatherings’’) that has become the center of Latour’s larger collaborative venture, Making Things Public. The reconstruction of Heathenry includes the reconstruction of contemporary life toward the inclusion and incitement of more communal forms of identity and belonging. If the project of modernity offers few resources for this (as evidenced by Margaret Thatcher’s shrill declaration that ‘‘there is no such thing as society’’), Heathenry is reinventing and reinvigorating ‘‘things,’’ assemblies in which people talk with others who make life not only possible but better. ETHNIC PAGANISMS

With the collapse of the Soviet empire (or its dissolution into competing consumerist marketplaces), a variety of local Paganisms have become evident. As with other Pagans (not only Heathens but also those in recently invented movements), some of these East European Pagans speak of ‘‘traditions’’ while inventing and reconstructing new practices and ideas. The term ‘‘ethnic Paganisms’’ has been applied to a range of movements in the Ukraine, Latvia, Lithuania, and elsewhere. This covers people who assert that there is a strong affinity between each particular ethnicity and each particular religion. They contest the notion that the best religions must be global, if not truly universal, in message, application, and impact. (That this notion is inextricably entangled with the invention of ‘‘World Religions’’ is evident in Cornelius Tiele’s article on ‘‘Religion’’ in the ninth edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica, in which he asserts that Christianity ‘‘ranks incommensurably high above both its rivals [as ‘‘World Religions’’],’’ Buddhism and Islam.) Instead, they reverse the claim and assert that the best, most ‘‘authentic’’ religions are those that evolve among a particular people in a particular place. As with Heathenry, the ethnic Pagans of Eastern Europe seek knowledges, practices, and material culture among pre-Christian ancestors. As with Gardner’s Witchcraft, they adduce evidence of pre-Christian religion from folk practices and/or the writings and recordings of nineteenthcentury folklorists. Some do talk about a ‘‘revival,’’ but many are explicit about participation in a creative process of reconstruction that builds a new religion for today. Adrian Ivakhiv’s excellent discussions of these movements,10 especially of the Ukrainian ‘‘Native Faith,’’ invaluably consider what is new and what is old, and what is common among Pagan 10

Ivakhiv, ‘‘Revival’’; ‘‘In Search’’; ‘‘Nature and Ethnicity.’’

Inventing Paganisms

287

movements, and what is distinctive among these self-identified ‘‘ethnic’’ movements. The assertion of the prominence of ancestry in the identity discourses and practices of Ukrainian ‘‘Native Faith’’ Pagans does not entirely negate the importance of ‘‘nature’’ that they share with other Pagans. However, the priority of ethnicity certainly changes understandings of ‘‘nature.’’ While already a fluid term, ‘‘nature’’ among ‘‘ethnic Pagans’’ has to refer to landscapes of ancestry and memory (neither of which should be taken as straightforward terms, but refer to creative and constructed relationships and knowledges). ‘‘Nature’’ is not, as it might be for some British Druids, the location of a wider, more diverse community of life, or a more pristine realm than urban spaces in which to approach divinity, but is the location in which ancestors established a worldview and lifeway (in short, a religion) which they intended to bequeath to their descendants, but they were frustrated by the arrival of an alien, globalizing religion, Christianity. Choosing a Pagan identity and practice here is alleged or imagined to be less a matter of heartfelt choice (as it is among Marion Bowman’s ‘‘cardiac Celts’’11) than a matter of choosing to be true to one’s blood or genes. It might, in fact, be true that both kinds of choice are constructs offered by cultural movements, but they appear ‘‘natural’’ under the impact of yet other choices of belonging, identity, and ideology. Again, that which seems given, especially forms of ‘‘nature’’ or aspects of embodiment (‘‘blood’’ or ‘‘ancestry’’), can be seen as the locations for and of the most interesting forms of invention, especially because they seem to invent us without themselves changing. Only when, as now, we lay similar movements and ideas alongside one another, or when people with competing identities lay claim to the same landscapes of (different) memories, does the inventiveness reveal itself. REINVENTING FEMINIST PAGANISMS IN NEW ZEALAND

The Paganisms that began in Britain have spread to many other countries. In turn, as these Paganisms have been adapted elsewhere, they have influenced changes and reinventions back in the UK. Such a process should be expected in a movement that not only celebrates diversity but also privileges location and locality. Because of this diversification, scholars have produced ethnographies and broad surveys of the kinds of Paganism growing in many countries. Reading these alongside one another clarifies 11

Bowman, ‘‘Cardiac Celts.’’

288

GRAHAM HARVEY

commonalities while rendering differences more visible. It also illustrates the complex and intertwined processes of globalization and localization. While we could profitably compare Sarah Pike’s survey of New Age and Neopagan Religions in America with my Listening People, Speaking Earth (largely but not solely arising from research among UK Pagans), a more specific focus on an aspect of Paganism hardly mentioned so far in this chapter may offer more. Thus, Kathryn Rountree’s Embracing the Witch and the Goddess, concerned with ‘‘Feminist Ritual Makers in New Zealand,’’ reveals processes of evolution and reinvention that contribute both to improved understanding of this and other branches of Paganism and to the process of religious invention itself. Rountree draws on ethnographies of UK Pagans to agree that, for New Zealand’s feminist ritual-makers as for British feminist witches, ‘‘‘healing the wounds of patriarchy’ is a priority, and that the ‘practice cannot be separated from politics – a politics of reclamation and re-invention of lost tradition.’’’12 But she rejects the charge that nostalgia for a fantasy ‘‘Golden Age’’ is implicated here, instead arguing that her informants had a clear ‘‘project involving working towards social equity for all oppressed groups.’’ Later she agrees with other writers about feminist witchcraft or Goddess spirituality, that participants are ‘‘well aware that their rituals are deliberately and self-consciously constructed.’’13 Indeed, she approves of Barbara Walker’s assertion that ‘‘The practice of religion is ritual, and every ritual is a human invention.’’14 Nonetheless, while recognizing that this means that ritual-makers (i.e. the authors and participants in rituals) will not forget that they constructed these rituals, she discusses the paradox that rituals are created to provide a semblance of antiquity. Feminist ritualists in New Zealand are far from alone among Pagans (or other contemporary religionists) in seeming to find authenticity in alleged historicity. This might, finally, be implicit in the everyday use of the term ‘‘tradition’’ to refer to particular styles of Paganism. It is certainly part of the claim made in the labeling of particular Paganisms as ‘‘the old religion’’ (a term equally applicable to Episcopalian Christianity in Boston, USA, and to Catholicism in England). Even when the ‘‘authentic history’’ is imagined prehistory (e.g. rituals in honor of Palaeolithic goddesses), there is an odd parallel with the ‘‘authentic history’’ of evangelical Christians imagining that their ritual is identical to that performed by the first 12 13

Rountree, Embracing the Witch, p. 106, citing Greenwood, Magic, Witchcraft, p. 109. Rountree, Embracing the Witch, p. 163. 14 Walker, Women Rituals, p. 3.

Inventing Paganisms

289

Christians. But while such inventive imaginations have a history in the legitimation of Protestantism as an alleged return to ‘‘real Christianity,’’ it is paradoxical,15 and sometimes bizarre, that Pagans find antiqueseeming rituals more appealing than entirely contemporary ones. The paradox is deepened rather than diminished by the clear fact that, as Rountree notes (p. 163), Pagans rarely forget that they have just written this ceremony. Clearly, we must add role-play, play-acting, active imagination, and creativity to the processes of importance in Pagan ritual and in the invention of Paganisms. STAR TREK PAGANISM

In contrast with those Pagans who suggest that authenticity must link to ancestry or to a matrifocal past, some Pagans self-consciously invent rituals that cannot be mistaken for anything but contemporary invention. Plenty of examples of this could be proffered, but one more paradox might balance the last. At least one group of Pagans who are committed to down-to-earth dealings with those who seem to ‘‘manage’’ ‘‘heritage sites’’ to the detriment of those who consider them ‘‘sacred sites,’’ and who have actively supported environmentalist campaigns, regularly indulge in Star Trek-inspired rituals. This-worldly concerns are somehow supported by fictions that transcend not only this planet but also this galaxy. The celebration of ‘‘nature’’ is encouraged by fantasies of technology. But, of course, what is really happening is that people are finding liberty to honor that which they consider requires new forms of respect by utilizing creativity, drama, playfulness, experiment, and experience, with no pretence that they have inherited their tradition from ancestors or anyone with any more authority than themselves. In the end, all the forms of Pagan invention, and the invention of all the forms of Paganism, evidence the same point. The everyday world of sunrises, moonsets, seashores, woodlands, spring, summer, autumn, winter, birth, death, fecundity, hunger, desire, growth and decay, and many more entirely ordinary things and events are considered worthy of celebration. Radical inventiveness is required by this radical celebration of ordinaryness, and is tested by how well the resulting rituals and lifestyles integrate people into that ordinary world and sometimes calls them out to engage in ‘‘acts of beauty’’ in defense and enhancement of the wider than human world.

15

Rountree, Embracing the Witch, p. 164.

290

GRAHAM HARVEY REFERENCES

Blain, Jenny, Nine Worlds of Seid-Magic: Ecstasy and Neo-Shamanism in North European Paganism (London: Routledge, 2002). Bowman, Marion, ‘‘Cardiac Celts: Images of the Celts in Paganism,’’ in Graham Harvey and Charlotte Hardman (eds.), Paganism Today: Wiccans, Druids, the Goddess and Ancient Earth Traditions for the Twenty-First Century (London: Thorsons 1995), pp. 242–51. Clifton, Chas S., and Graham Harvey (eds.), The Paganism Reader (London: Routledge, 2004). Gardner, Gerald, Witchcraft Today (New York: Secaucus, 1954). Greenwood, Susan, Magic, Witchcraft and the Otherworld (Oxford: Berg, 2000). Harvey, Graham, Listening People, Speaking Earth: Contemporary Paganism, 2nd edn. (London: C. Hurst; New York: New York University Press, 2006; first published 1997). Hutton, Ronald, The Triumph of the Moon: A History of Modern Pagan Witchcraft (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999). Ivakhiv, Adrian, ‘‘Nature and Ethnicity in East European Paganism: An Environmental Ethics of the Religious Right?’’ Pomegranate 7/2 (2005), pp. 194–225. ‘‘The Revival of Ukrainian Native Faith,’’ in Michael F. Strmiska (ed.), Modern Paganism in World Cultures: Comparative Perspectives (Oxford: ABC-CLIO, 2005), pp. 209–39. ‘‘In Search of Deeper Identities: Paganism and Native Faith in Contemporary Ukraine,’’ Nova Religio 8/3 (2005), pp. 7–38. Latour, Bruno, Making Things Public (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2005). Politics of Nature: How to Bring the Sciences into Democracy (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2004). Murray, Margaret, ‘‘Witchcraft,’’ Encyclopaedia Britannica, 14th edn., 23, pp. 686–8. Reprinted in Clifton and Harvey, Paganism Reader, pp. 90–4. Pike, Sarah M., New Age and Neopagan Religions in America (New York: Columbia University Press, 2004). Rountree, Kathryn, Embracing the Witch and the Goddess: Feminist Ritual-Makers in New Zealand (London and New York: Routledge). Sidhe, Wren, ‘‘Drawing Down the Moon’’ in Clifton and Harvey, Paganism Reader, pp. 330–2. Tiele, Cornelius Petrus, ‘‘Religion,’’ Encyclopaedia Britannica, 9th edn., 20, pp. 358–71. Walker, Barbara, Women Rituals: A Sourcebook (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1990).

Index

Abenragel, 193 A˚berg, Einar, 83, 84 Abu Mashar, 167 accretions of material in Hebrew Bible, 260 treasure revelation in Tibetan Buddhism, 219 Acephalians, 251 ACM. See anti-cult movement Ahmadinejad, Mahmoud, 89 Ahmadiyya group, 11 Ahura Mazda¯. See Zoroastrianism and Zoroastrian corpus A˚kerman, Susanna, viii, 8, 158 al-Attiyah, Dr., 92 al-Qaeda, 91 alchemy. See under Rosicrucians Alexander the Great, 184, 259 Alexandrinus codex, 147 allegory, 38, 47–51 Alliance Israe´lite Universelle, 78 Alruna, 161, 162 Also Sprach Zarathustra (Nietzsche), 178, 195 American Family Foundation (now International Cultic Studies Association), 101, 107. See also anti-cult movement American Indian spirituality. See Castaneda, Carlos, and Don Juan Matu´s ancestors, baptism of, in Mormonism, 67–70 Andreae, Johann Valentin, 158 Andrews, Lynn, 46 Anglicanism, change and tradition in, 59 Ankerberg, John, 134 anonymous authors authoritative figures, authorship of Hebrew Bible projected back on to, 2, 7, 260 in biblical world, 259 misattribution of texts of, 3 texts misattributed to later figures, 3, 141 Anthon, Charles, 63 anti-cult movement, 96–114 brainwashing

credibility of scholars refuting, attempts to undermine, 107 discovery of evidence of, 101, 107, 109–12 discovery of process of, 101, 104–7 empirical evidence refuting, 105–7 critical theory approach to, 97 deprogramming, 109–12 differentiation of NRMs from legitimate religions, 103, 107–9 discovery of NRMs separate from traditional organizations, 101–4 as process of invention, 98 of subversive qualities of NRMs, 101, 102–3, 107–9 families as motivation behind, 98, 100, 108, 110, 113 against The Family International (formerly Children of God), 100, 101, 104, 110, 130 against ISKCON (Hare Krishnas), 6, 100, 104 mystification of social constructions in, 97, 98 NRMs (New Religious Movements) as target of, 6, 97, 99–100 against Scientology, 18, 26, 29, 30 social construction of, 97, 100–1 subversion discovery of NRMs’ subversive qualities, 101, 102–3, 107–9 as ideology of movement, 98 against Unificationism (See Unificationism) against Urantia Book, 208–12 wider societal alliances, failure to generate, 114 anti-Semitism. See Judaism; Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion anti-Zionism vs. anti-Semitism, 92 Antiochus IV, 272 apocalypticism Daniel, 273 Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion and, 85–7

291

292

Index

apocalypticism (cont.) in Bureus, 160 in first manifestos, 158 recognition of origins in, 159 Scientology texts, epistemological end time created by, 25, 31 Apocryphon of John, 191 Apollinaris, 245 apostolic authorship New Testament, as canonical criterion for in antiquity, 142–5 late antique doubts regarding, 149–50 in Middle Ages, 150 of Pseudo-Dionysius, 251, 254 Appel, Willa, 105 Arbatel, 162 Aristeas, Letter of, 265 Aristophanes, 242 Aristotle, 3, 10, 242 Arnobius, 190 artifacts as invention of sacred tradition, 16 in Tibetan Buddhism, 228–32 Asatru, 15. See also paganisms, modern astronomy/astrology exotic misattribution of origins of, 9 Rosicrucians, 160, 164–8 Rosicrucians and, 160, 164–8 Zoroastrianism and Zoroastrian corpus, 178, 192–4 Athanasius, 244–5 Auge´, Marc, 73 August of Anhalt, 159 Aum Duk-moon, 123 authorship of texts. See also misattribution of texts; pseudepigraphy anonymity. See anonymous authors apostolic. See apostolic authorship in Bible. See Hebrew Bible; New Testament copyright issues and divine authorship, 206–8 in Greco-Roman vs. Middle Eastern world, 261–2 Pseudo-Dionysian corpus. See PseudoDionysius in Scientology. See under Scientology Urantia Book’s lack of authorship, significance of, 205–6 automatic speaking/writing, rejection explanation of production of Urantia Book, 201, 203 Avalokites´vara, 221, 222 Avesta, 179, 185 Bab Bathra, 263 baptism of the dead in Mormonism, 67–70

Barker, Eileen, 48, 52 Barkun, Michael, 76 Barruel, Augustin de, 80, 81, 93 Barthes, Roland, 255 Basil of Caesaria, 245 Beck, Roger, 189 Beek, Gottfried zur (Ludwig Mu¨ller von Hausen), 82 belief and skepticism regarding invention of sacred tradition, 12–15. See also critical self-analysis Ben-Itto, Hadassa, 76, 77, 85 Ben Sira, 258, 261 Berger, Peter, 96, 97 Berossos, 9 Berry, Harold J., 129–30 Besold, Christoph, 158 BeWISE, 88 Bharati, A., 50 Bible. See also Hebrew Bible; New Testament biblical criticism, 12, 206, 211, 275 as divinely inspired, 148, 258 in Mormonism, 57, 59, 61, 65, 67, 68, 69 as single sacred book, 147–9 Unificationism’s Divine Principle and canonical status of Divine Principle, 133–6 unbiblical nature of revelations of Moon, 133 Bible Believers, 88 Bidez, Joseph, 186, 189, 192 Bjornstad, James, 129–30 Blain, Jenny, 285 Blavatsky, Madame, 39, 50, 205 Boissard, J. J., 162 Bonewits, Isaac, 281 Boniface VIII (pope), 253 Borrichius, Olaus, 169, 171 Bowman, Marion, 204, 287 Boyer, Paul, 86 Brafmann, Jacob, 78 brainwashing. See under anti-cult movement Breen, Mike, 125, 126 Bromley, David G., viii, 6–7, 96 Bronner, Stephen, 77 Brooke, John, 64 Bruner, Emile, 42 Bry, Theodore de, 162 Buddhism. See also treasure revelation in Tibetan Buddhism historical Buddha, attribution of divergent traditions to, 7, 12 Mahayana Buddhism, 3, 12 Nyingma Buddhism, 12, 214, 217–25 revealed texts in, 12 ‘‘soteriology of the senses’’ in, 229

Index Budowec, Vaclav, 165 Buerger, D. J., 65 Bureus, Johannes, 160–4, 165, 167 Cajetan, Thomas Cardinal, 151 Calvin, John, 152 canonical texts in New Testament. See New Testament in Scientology, 21–2 Unificationism, canonical status of Divine Principle in, 133–6 Zoroastrian corpus, scripturalization of, 183–5 Carrithers, Michael, 50, 52 Casaubon, Isaac, 3 Castaneda, Carlos, and Don Juan Matu´s, 5, 38–52 academic views of, 26–9 ancient tradition, presented as, 47, 52 charisma, rhetoric, metaphor, and allegory, use of, 38, 47–51 drug use associated with, 41, 42, 45, 48, 50 fact vs. truth in, 42, 47 human transmission of tradition, primary interest in, 2 initial presentation as ethnography and eventual exposure as hoax, 40–2 mythical role assigned to Castaneda, 46, 48–9 New Age and, 40, 42, 44 popular response to, 45–7 shamanism Castaneda’s work viewed as presentation of, 42–5 neo-shamanism, 46, 51, 52 Western fascination with, 38 tension between Western rationality and desire for alternate reality, 38, 39, 40, 45 trickster elements of, 45, 51, 52 Cecco d’Ascoli (Francesco degli Stabili), 193, 194 Central Church of Christ, 130 chain of memory, religion as, 33 Chalcedonian controversy in Pseudo-Dionysius, 243, 244–7, 251–2 Chaldean Oracles, 195 Chandler, Michael, 63 change and tradition, reconciling in Anglicanism, 59 in Mormonism, 58–60 in Scientology, 26–9, 32–3 channeling as method of reception of Urantia Book, 203–5, 211 charisma and invention of sacred tradition Castaneda, Carlos, and Don Juan Matu´s, 38, 47–51 Sadler, William, and Urantia Book, 203 treasure revelation in Tibetan Buddhism, 216, 228–32

293

Charles the Bald of France, 252, 253 Chemical Wedding of Christian Rosencruetz, The, 158, 164 Ch’eongsugyo (‘Pure Water Church’ or Israel Monastery), 120–2 Children of God. See Family International China re-education efforts and brainwashing, 104, 106 revival of religion in Tibet since invasion by, 234–6 Choi Sun-kil, 121 Choi Won-pok, 124 Chokgyur Lingpa, 220 Cho¨wang, 224, 231 Christadelphians, 130 Christensen, Dorthe Refslund, 19 Christian Science, 130 Christianity, 7–9. See also Hebrew Bible; New Testament biblical criticism, 12, 206, 211 exoticism in, 8–9 fundamentalist/evangelical Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion and, 86 Unificationism and, 133, 134, 135, 136, 137 Gnostic texts, 189–91 Korean Christians’ dislike of Moon and Unificationism, 126 modern paganisms and, 277, 280, 283 Mormonism and, 57, 59, 61, 65, 69, 72 Neo-Platonism reworked in terms of, 241, 247–9, 251, 252. See also Pseudo-Dionysius new texts, means of introducing, 10–11 Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion and, 76, 82, 84–9 skepticism and belief in, 12, 13, 14, 15 spiritual counterfeit, concept of, 129–31 Unificationism and. See under Unificationism Urantia book and, 207–8, 210–11 Zoroastrianism and, 183–4, 189–91 Christina of Sweden, 168, 169, 171 Chronicles (biblical books), 266 Chryssides, George D., viii, 7, 118 Chryssolaras, Immanuel, 160 Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. See Mormonism Church of Scientology. See Scientology Church Universal and Triumphant, 11, 102 Clarke, C. J. S., 43 classical world. See also New Testament authorship in, 261–2 exoticism in, 9 pseudepigraphy in, 262 Pseudo-Dionysius. See also Pseudo-Dionysius

294

Index

classical world (cont.) imperial/ecclesiastical power vs. Frankish/ French power and, 252–4 as mediator between Hellenism and Christianity, 243, 247–9 Neoplatonic tradition reworked for Christianity by, 241, 247–9, 251, 252 Clement of Alexandria, 147, 183, 187–9 Clement of Rome, 149 Code of Hammurabi, 259 codex form, Bible in, 147–9 Cohn, Norman, 75, 77, 78, 81, 83 Colotes, 188 Comastri, Giovanni Batista, 170 ‘‘coming forth’’ in Mormonism, 60–2 Communism and Illuminati conspiracy, 87 Community of Christ, 56 conspiracy theory and Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion, 84–9 Constantine (Holy Roman Emperor), 147 Conway, Flo, 103, 105 Cooper, Abraham, 76 copyright Scientology texts, legal strategies used to protect, 29, 34–5 Urantia Book, 206–8 Cornelius Agrippa, Heinrich, 162 Corrigan, Kevin, viii, 13, 241 Cosmopilite, the (Michael Sendivogius), 170–4 Coughlin, Charles, 87 counterfeit, spiritual concept of, 129–31 SCP (Spiritual Counterfeits Project), 129 Unificationism accused of. See under Unificationism counterfeit spirituality, concept of, 134. See also under Unificationism Cowan, Douglas E., ix, 6–7, 96 critical self-analysis belief and skepticism, relationship between, 12–15 biblical criticism, 12, 206, 211, 275 in modern paganisms, 279, 281, 288–9 in Mormonism, 13, 58, 59, 71, 206 paganisms, modern, 279 in Scientology, 36 treasure revelation in Tibetan Buddhism, 224 critical theory approach to anti-cult movement, 97 Cult Awareness Network, 101, 107. See also anticult movement Cumont, Franz, 186, 189, 192 Cyril of Jerusalem, 244–5 Dam, Robert, 29 Damascius Diodochus, 244, 247

Daniel, book of, 272–3 Darius III, 184 David, 260, 268–70 Davidson, Ronald, 220 Davies, Douglas J., ix, 5–6, 56 Davies, Philip, ix, 14, 258 de Mille, Richard, 41, 43, 46, 47 de Wette, W. M. L., 265 dead, baptism of, in Mormonism, 67–70 Dee, John, 161, 164–75 Deer Tribe Metis Medicine Society Shamanic Lodge of Ceremonial Medicine, 46 Defenders of the Christian Faith, 76 Demophilus the monk, 253 deprogramming in anti-cult movement, 109–12 Derrida, Jacques, 255–6 des Mousseaux, Gougenot, 78, 79 Deuteronomy, 265–7 Devil worship, Jews associated with, 77–8 Dialogue aux Enfers entre Montesquieu et Machiavel (Joly), 81–2 Didache, 149 Dilling, Elizabeth, 88 Dionysius the Areopagite. See Pseudo-Dionysius discovery in anti-cult movement of NRMs separate from traditional organizations, 101–4 as process of invention, 98 of subversive qualities of NRMs, 101, 102–3, 107–9 Hebrew Bible, discovery of ancient lawbook in, 265, 267 treasure revelation in Tibetan Buddhism, 226–7 Divine Light Mission, 129 Divine Principle. See under Unificationism divine sources. See transcendent sources, traditions assigned to docetism, 145 doctrinal grounds for New Testament canonicity in antiquity, 145–6 ‘‘canon within canon,’’ 152, 154, 155 in Protestant Reformation, 152 Dodrupchen, 218 Don Juan Matu´s. See Castaneda, Carlos, and Don Juan Matu´s Dorn, Gerard, 166 Dragon cult, 125. See also Unificationism drug use associated with Castaneda, 41, 42, 45, 48, 50 Druids, 15. See also paganisms, modern Morganwg, Iolo, and Welsh Druids, 277–8, 280 prayer, 277, 280 proliferation and development of, 280–1

Index RDNA (Reformed Druids of North America), 15, 281 witchcraft and, 280, 283 Drury, Nevil, 44, 46 Dudjom Rinpoche (Jikdrel Yeshe Dorje), 224 Durkheim, Emile, 96 Dzogchen, 220, 223 Ecclesiastes, 261, 270 Eckhart, Meister, 255 Egyptology, orientalism, and Mormonism, 63–4 E´ırik the Red, Saga of, 284–5 el-Kayyali, Abdelwahab, 92 endowments in Mormonism, 65–7 Engels, Friedrich, 87 Enlightenment rationality and desire for alternative reality, tension between, 38, 39, 40, 45 Enmeduranki, 260 Enoch, 260 Epic of Gilgamesh, 260, 261 Erasmus, 151, 241, 254 Eriugena, 253 eschatology. See apocalypticism esotericism, 277 Estonian paganism, 278, 286–7 ethnic/nationalist paganisms, 277–8, 279, 286–7 Eu Hyo-won, 124 Euripides, 242 Eusebius of Caesarea, 145, 146, 147 Eusebius Pamphili, 252 evangelical/fundamentalist Christianity Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion and, 86 Unificationism and, 133, 134, 135, 136, 137 Evoli, Cesare, 162 exoticism, 8–9 Ezra Hebrew Bible, Ezra and Nehemiah in, 274–5 pseudepigraphic books of, 264 fact vs. truth in Castaneda’s work, 42, 47 in classical world, 242 in Hebrew Bible, 275 in Scientology, 18, 29, 30, 37 Fama fraternitatis roseae crucis, 158, 159, 160, 167 family anti-cult movement and, 98, 100, 108, 110, 113 in Mormonism, 57, 58, 66, 67–70 Family Federation for World Peace and Unification (FFWPU). See Unificationism Family International, The (formerly Children of God)

295

anti-cult deprogramming first used on members of, 110 anti-cult movement’s attempts to delegitimate, 100, 101, 104 Christian cult, identification as, 130 origins of, 102 fantasy literature, rise in popularity of, 39 feminist paganisms in New Zealand, 287–9 Fernandez, James, 52 FFWPU (Family Federation for World Peace and Unification). See Unificationism Ficino, Marsilio, 9, 195, 254 Finkelstein, I., 268, 270 Fludd, Robert, 159, 166, 171, 174 Ford, Arthur, 131 Ford, Henry, 83, 88 Francesco degli Stabili (Cecco d’Ascoli), 193, 194 Frankish/French royal power vs. imperial/ ecclesiastical power and PseudoDionysius, 252–4 Franklin, Joe, 120 Frazer, James, 282 freedom of religion in Urantia Book copyright case, 207 Freemasonry Illuminati conspiracy and, 79, 80, 81, 87, 93 Jewish conspiracies connected with, 79, 80, 81, 83, 87 Mormonism and, 64, 66 Rosicrucians and, 175 Freezone, 26 French Revolution and Illuminati conspiracy, 80, 87, 93 Freud, Sigmund, 96 Frizius, Joachim (Robert Fludd), 159 Froelich, Karlfried, 254 fundamentalism in Christianity Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion and, 86 Unificationism and, 133, 134, 135, 136, 137 Mormon, 56 Funk, Robert W., 155 Gabella, Phillippus a (Philemon RC), 165, 170, 173, 174 Galatinus, Petrus, 162 Galaxy Press, 35 Garab Dorje, 229, 232 Gardner, Gerald, 281–3, 286 Gardner, Martin, 209, 211 Gassendi, Pierre, 159 Ga¯tha¯s, 179–81 Gayley, Holly, ix, 12, 213 Geary, Patrick, 214 Geaves, Ron, ix, 6, 75, 91

296

Index

Giddens, Anthony, 39 Gilgamesh, 260, 261 Gilly, Carlos, 164, 165 Giorgi, Francesco, 174 Glasziou, Ken, 208–9 Gnostic texts, 189–91 goddess religion, 287–9. See also modern paganisms Goedsche, Hermann (Sir John Retcliffe), 77, 78 Goldschmidt, Walter, 40 Gospel of Peter, 143, 145 Gospel of Thomas, 143, 146 gospels, canonical, 143–4 Govinda, 50 Gray, James, 87 Greco-Roman world. See classical world Gregory of Nazianzus, 242 Gregory Thaumaturge, 244–5 Griaule, Marcel, 40 Grindal, Bruce T., 45 Grocyn, William, 14, 241, 254 Groothuis, Douglas R., 129–30 Gruss, Edmond C., 129–30 gter ston (terto¨n or ‘‘treasure revealer’’). See under treasure revelation in Tibetan Buddhism Gurdjieff, Georges Ivanovich, 39, 46, 50 Guru Cho¨wang, 224, 231 hadith collections, 10, 15, 264 Hamas, 91 Hammer, Olav, 1 Hammurabi Code of, 259 Hanegraaf, Hank, 129–30 Hardman, Charlotte, ix, 5, 38 Hare Krishnas. See ISKCON Harman, Johannes, 166 Harner, Michael, 43–4, 47, 52 Harrington, Michael, x, 13, 241 Harris, Doug, 129–30, 137 Harris, Martin, 63 Harvey, Graham, x, 15, 277 Haselmayer, Adam, 165, 173 Hassan, Steven, 125 Hathaway, Ronald, 245 Haug, Martin, 181 Hausherr, Tilmann, 125 Heathen reconstructionism, 283–6. See also paganisms, modern heavenly dew in Rosicrucianism, 168–75 Hebrew Bible, 14, 258–75. See also specific books and biblical figures anonymous authors, 259 biblical criticism, 12, 206, 211, 275 Christian designation as Old Testament, 147

concepts of writing and authorship in biblical world, 258–62 development of spurious attribution of, 263 as divinely inspired, 258 fact vs. truth in, 275 false historical documents in, 273–4 Greco-Roman vs. Middle Eastern world, 261–2 internal spurious attribution in, 258 lawbook ‘‘discovered’’ in temple, 265, 267 new material, addition of, 3 patriarchal tradition, historicity of, 267 plagiarism as violation of third commandment, 118 prophetic books, 244, 260 pseudepigraphy accretions of new material to originally authored documents, 260 authoritative figures, authorship projected back on to, 2, 7, 260, 262 deliberate misattribution, lack of, 262 Jewish pseudepigrapha/apocrypha, 264, 273 pseudo-prophecies, 273 purposes of spurious attribution of, 263 retrospective spurious attribution in, 258 Rosicrucians, heavenly dew of, 168–75 skepticism and belief, 12 Hebrews, book of Pauline authorship of, 141, 143, 149–50, 151 Hellenism. See classical world Helpen, Coenders van, 172 heresy, orthodoxy, and New Testament canonicity in antiquity, 145–6 ‘‘canon within canon,’’ 152, 154, 155 in Protestant Reformation, 152 Hermas, Shepherd of, 145, 149 Hermes Trismegistus, 3, 10, 162, 186 Hermippus, 187 Hervieu-Le´ger, Danie`le, 33 Herzl, Theodore, 75, 82 Hess, Tobias, 158 Hezbollah, 90, 91 Hierotheus and Pseudo-Dionysius, 243, 248, 250 highland kilt, invention of, 1 Hinduism, sampradaya tradition in, 128 historical characters inserted into fictional but pedagogically useful relationship, 249–50 historical documents, false, in Hebrew Bible, 273–4 Hitler, Adolf, 83, 84, 87 Hobsbawm, Eric, 1, 2, 3, 39, 58, 68, 72, 215 Holocaust denial, 89–90, 92 Homer, 242, 261 Hoon Dok Hon Texts, 124

Index Horace, 242 Horwitz, Jonathan, 46 Hubbard, L. Ron. See Scientology Hugh of St. Victor, 148 human transmission of traditions, concern with, 2 Hus, Johan, 160 Hutton, Ronald, 281 Huxley, Aldous, 45 Hystaspes, 183, 185 Illuminati conspiracy, association of Jews with, 79–81, 86–7 IMF (International Monetary Fund), Illuminati linked to, 81 Imhotep, 260 Indian spirituality. See Castaneda, Carlos, and Don Juan Matu´s International Cultic Studies Association (formerly American Family Foundation), 101, 107. See also anti-cult movement International Monetary Fund (IMF), Illuminati linked to, 81 inventing sacred tradition, 1–17 definition of invention, 2–4 definition of tradition, 1 delegitimation via, 6–7 distinguishing old, genuine tradition from, impossibility of, 39 exoticism, 8–9 in information age, 11 legitimacy confirmed by, 4–6, 210, 211 modern concept of originality vs. premodern valuation of place within tradition, 241–3 new texts, means of introducing, 9–12 reasons for, 4–7 skepticism and belief, 12–15 transmission of tradition, means of, 2 Irenaeus of Lyons, 142, 144, 147 Isaiah, book of, 261, 271, 272 ISKCON (Hare Krishnas) anti-cult movement estimates of numbers, 109 anti-cult movement’s attempts to delegitimate, 6, 100, 104. See also anti-cult movement on Jesus in Asia, 11 origins of, 101 Islam Ahmadiyya group, 11 hadith collections, 10, 15, 264 ‘‘Manifest Success’’ doctrine, 86, 92 Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion and, 76, 84, 89–93 Qur’an

297

‘‘Manifest Success’’ doctrine, 86, 92 supposed Jewish attempt to forge, 90 transcendent source, attribution to, 2 skepticism and belief in, 15 Western dominance, Muslim humiliation by, 91 on Zoroastrian corpus, 184, 192–4 Islamic Jihad, 91 Israel Jesus Church/Israel Monastery, 120–2, 125–7, 128 Ivakhiv, Adrian, 286 Jaber, Hisham, 90 Jacobins, 80 Jacobs, Charles, 90 Ja¯ma¯spa, 182–3, 184, 193 James, Nigel, 80, 85 Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo, 220 Jehovah’s Witnesses, 130 Jellinek, Roger, 42 Jerome, 149–50, 151, 152, 242 Jesus. See Christianity Jigme Lingpa, 231 Jigme Tenpe Nyima, 218 Jikdrel Yeshe Dorje (Dudjom Rinpoche), 224 John, Apocryphon of, 191 John Birch Society, 82, 88 John Chrysostom, 244–5 John of Scythopolis, 244 Joly, Maurice, 81–2 Josephus, 261, 264 Josiah, discovery of lawbook by, 265, 267 Judaism. See also Hebrew Bible anti-Zionism vs. anti-Semitism, 92 delegitimation and anti-Semitism (See Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion) Freemasonry, association with, 79, 80, 81, 83, 87 Holocaust denial, 89–90, 92 kabbalah, Rosicrucian interest in. See under Rosicrucians liberalism, association of Jews with, 81–2 pseudepigrapha/apocrypha, 264, 273 skepticism and belief in, 12, 13, 15 Julian the Apostate, 242 Julian of Halicarnassus, 244 Julius of Rome, 244–5 Justin Martyr, 144, 183 Justinian (Byzantine emperor), 243 kabbalah. See under Rosicrucians Kellogg, Wilfred, 209 Kepler, Johannes, 167 Khandro Ta¯re Lhamo, 220, 234 Khenpo Jigme Phuntsok, 235

298 Khyentse Wangpo, Jamyang, 233 Kibridli Zade (Millinger, Osman Bey), 78, 79, 81 kilt, invention of, 1 Kim Baek-moon, 120–2, 125–7, 128, 133 Kim, Jin-Choon, 122 Kim Kwan-suk, 131 Kim Won-pil, 123 Kim, Young Oon, 124, 131 Kliever, Lonnie D., 23–4 Koch, Hugo, 244 Kongtrul, Jamgo¨n, 233 Korean Christians’ dislike of Moon and Unificationism, 126 Korean War brainwashing of prisoners of war during, 104, 106 Moon, Sun-Myung, and, 123 Krushevan, Pavolachi, 82 kutsabs, 229–31 Kwang Hae Church (‘‘Church of the Ocean of Light’’ or Israel Monastery), 120–2 La Barre, Weston, 42 Lactantius, 183 LameDeer, Archie, 46 Lamoreaux, John, 244 Langdarma, 220 lapidary texts on Zoroastrian corpus, 186 Larson, Bob, 134 Latour, Bruno, 285 Latter-Day Saints, Church of Jesus Christ of. See Mormonism Latvian paganism, 278, 286–7 LDS Church. See Mormonism Lee, Sang Hun, 124 Lee Yong-do, 126 Leowitz, Cyprian, 167 Letter of Aristeas, 265 Levin, Nora, 82, 83 Levy, Richard S., 88 Lewis, Bernard, 91 Lewis, James R., 1, 118, 128, 129, 210, 211 Lewis, Sarah, x, 11, 199 Liber de Causis, 10 liberalism, association of Jews with, 81–2 Linus, 191 Lithuanian paganism, 278, 286–7 Lobsang Rampa, 42 Lofland, John, 124, 131 Lucifer VII, 125, 126 Luther, Martin, 151–2, 160 Lutostansky, Hippolytus, 79 Lydus, Joannes, 192

Index Maaherra, Kristen, 206–8 McCabe, Joshua, 124 McCarthy, Kevin, 134 McDowell, Josh, 129–30 Machiavelli, Nicolas, 81–2 McMullan, Harry, III, 207–8 Madathanus, Henricus, 171 Maharaji, Guru, 129 Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, 129 Mahathir Muhammad, 89 Mahayana Buddhism, 3, 12 Maha¯yoga mantras, 221 Manichaean sources on Zoroastrianism, 183–4 ‘‘Manifest Success’’ doctrine of Qur’an, 86, 92 Man˜ jus´rimitra, 232 Marbodius of Rennes, 186 Marcion, 143 Marion, Jean-Luc, 255 Marrs, Texe, 86 Marsden, Victor, 83 Martin, Walter, 134 Marton, Yves, 45 Marx, Karl, 1, 87, 96 Masons. See Freemasonry material artifacts as invention of sacred tradition, 16 in Tibetan Buddhism, 228–32 Matilletus, Johannes, 166 Matu´s, Don Juan. See Castaneda, Carlos, and Don Juan Matu´s Maximus the Confessor, 244 Melito of Sardes, 147 memory, religion as chain of, 33 Mersenne, Marin, 159 Mesha Moabite stele, 259 messiah, Sun-Myung Moon’s claims to be, 119–20, 126, 128, 134, 137 metaphor and invention of sacred tradition, 38, 47–51 Michael Foundation, 207–8 Michael of Nebadon, 211 Middle Platonism, 190 millennialism. See apocalypticism Millinger (Kibridle Zade, Osman Bey), 78, 79, 81 Mipham, Ju, 234 misattribution of texts anonymous authors’ texts attributed to later figures, 3, 141 effects of, 3 mistaken identities, 141 of New Testament. See New Testament nonexistent figures, attribution to, 3 pseudepigraphy. See pseudepigraphic texts

Index in Zoroastrianism. See under Zoroastrianism and Zoroastrian corpus Miscavige, David, 25, 32, 35, 36 mistaken identities of New Testament authors, 141 Moabite stone, 259 modern paganisms. See paganisms, modern Monas, 161, 164–8 Monophysite controversy in Pseudo-Dionysius, 243, 244–7, 251–2 Montesquieu, Charles de Secondat, baron de, 81–2 Moody Bible Institute, 87 Moon, Hak Ja Han, 134 Moon, Sun Myung, and Moonies. See Unificationism Moore, Wilbert E., 32 Morganwg, Iolo, 277–8, 280 Mormonism, 5–6, 56–73 baptism of the dead in, 67–70 Bible and Christianity in, 57, 59, 61, 65, 67, 68, 69, 72 chapel vs. temple Mormons, 65 counterfeit Christian group, identification as, 123 critical self-analysis in, 13, 58, 59, 71, 206 endowments and sealing, 65–7 family in, 57, 58, 66, 67–70 Freemasonry and, 64, 66 fundamentalists, 56 hieroglyphics drawn by Smith, 63–4 history as ideologically constructed by, 60–2, 70–2 identity and nature of, 56–7 misattributed texts, effects of, 3 phenomenological approach to, 57–8 Plan of Salvation and concept of ‘‘coming forth,’’ 60–2 polygamy or plural marriage, 56, 58, 71 Protestant Reformation, self-distinction from, 61 as reformation or restoration, 58–60 related groups, 56 ritual in, 65 sacred texts of, 62–4 skepticism and belief in, 13 Smith, Joseph, 13, 56, 57, 58, 60, 61, 62–4, 66, 69, 70, 72, 206 temples, 57, 65 undergarments, 57 as world religion, 72–3 Moses, Pentateuch ascribed to, 2, 265–8 Mousseaux, Gougenot des, 78, 79 Movement of Inner Spiritual Awareness, 128 Moyer, E. P., 203, 205

299

Muhammad. See Islam; Qur’an Mu¨ller, Max, 11 Mu¨ller von Hausen, Ludwig (Gottfried zur Beek), 82 Mullins, Larry, 200, 201, 202 Muratori canon, 144 Murray, Margaret, 282, 283 Musaeus, 191 Myerhoff, Barbara, 49, 50 mystical methodology of Pseudo-Dionysius, 246, 255–6 mystification of social constructions, 97, 98 Nag Hammadi texts, 190 Namtrul Jigme Phuntsok, 220 Napoleon III, 81–2 Nasser, Gamal Abdul, 76 nationalist/ethnic paganisms, 277–8, 279, 286–7 Native American spirituality. See Castaneda, Carlos, and Don Juan Matu´s nature as central principle of modern paganisms, 278–9, 287, 289 Naude´, Gabriel, 159 Neel, David, 50 negative theological framework of PseudoDionysius, 246, 255–6 Nehemiah, book of, 274–5 Neil, Bronwen, 252 Neo-Platonism, 189, 191, 195, 241, 247–9, 251, 252 Neo-Pythagoreanism, 190 neo-shamanism, 46, 51, 52, 277 Nestorians and Nestorius, 245, 251 New Age, 8, 40, 42, 44 New Era Publications, 34 New Jesus Church, 126 New Religious Movements (NRMs), 6, 97, 99–100. See also anti-cult movement New Testament, 7, 141–55 anonymous texts later misattributed, 141 apostolic authorship as canonical criterion in antiquity, 142–5 late antique doubts regarding, 149–50 in Middle Ages, 150 biblical criticism, 12, 206, 211 ‘‘canon within canon,’’ 152, 154, 155 continuity with origins, providing, 142 as divinely inspired, 148 Gospels (narrative accounts about Jesus), 143–4 Hebrews, Pauline authorship of, 141, 143, 149–50, 151 Irenaeus of Lyons on, 142, 144, 147 in Middle Ages, 150 mistaken identities of authors, 141 modern theological problems with, 152–5

300

Index

New Testament (cont.) Muratori canon, 144 organization of Christian church, role of canonical scriptures in, 142 orthodoxy as canonical criterion in antiquity, 145–6 ‘‘canon within canon,’’ 152, 154, 155 in Protestant Reformation, 152 Pauline letters, 141, 143, 149–50, 151, 153 in Protestant Reformation, 150, 152 pseudepigraphy in, 141, 150, 152–5 Q (Quelle), 143 questions of authorship of, 141 sayings of Jesus, 143–4 as single document, 147–9 skepticism and belief, 12 steps of canonization process, 143–5 supposed Jewish corruption of, 90 tradition as canonical criterion in antiquity, 146–7 in Middle Ages, 150 in modern period, 153, 155 in Protestant Reformation, 151–2 New Zealand, feminist paganisms in, 287–9. See also modern paganisms Nicholas II (czar), 76 Nichols, Ross, 283 Nicolas of Damascus, 185 Nietzsche, Friedrich, 178, 195, 255 Nilus, Sergei, 82 nonexistent figures, misattribution of texts to, 3 Norse Heathen reconstructionism, 283–6 northern antiquities and Rosicrucians, 161 Notovitch, Nicolas, 10 NRMs (New Religious Movements), 6, 97, 99–100. See also anti-cult movement ¨ ser, 222 Nyangral Nyima O Nyingma Buddhism, 12, 214, 214, 217–25. See also treasure revelation in Tibetan Buddhism occult tradition of Rosicrucians. See under Rosicrucians Ofshe, Richard, 105 Ogotemmeˆli, 40 Okhrana (Russian secret police) and Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion, 76, 82 Old Testament, 147. See also Hebrew Bible O’Leary, Stephen, 85 Om . Man.ipadme Hu¯m. mantra, 222 Orgyan Lingpa, 223 orientalism, Egyptology, and Mormonism, 63–4 Origen, 147, 149, 191, 252 Orisha path, 45 Orpheus, 162, 186, 191

orthodoxy and New Testament canonicity in antiquity, 145–6 ‘‘canon within canon,’’ 152, 154, 155 in Protestant Reformation, 152 Osman Bey (Millinger, Kibridli Zade), 78, 79, 81 Ouspensky, Peter D., 50 Padmasambhava, 12, 214. See also treasure revelation in Tibetan Buddhism authenticity of terto¨n and treasure text, 225, 226 authorship of treasure texts, framing of, 217, 218 discovery site, links to, 226 emergence of treasure revelation as phenomenon and, 221, 222, 223 relics associated with, 229–31, 232 revival of religion in Tibet since 1980s and, 234 paganism of Julian the Apostate, 242 paganisms, modern, 15, 277–89. See also Druids; shamanism Christian influence on, 277, 280, 283 critical self-analysis in, 279, 281, 288–9 defined and described, 278–9 ethnic/nationalist paganisms, 277–8, 279, 286–7 feminist paganisms in New Zealand, 287–9 Heathen reconstructionism, 283–6 nature as central principle, 278–9, 287, 289 Seidr, 284, 285 Star Trek pagans, 289 tradition and antiquity as central principle, 279 Wicca/Witchcraft Druidism and, 280, 283 feminist paganisms in New Zealand, 287–9 Gardner and developments of Gardner, 281–3, 286 Pak Chong-hwa, 123 Palestinian activism and the Protocols, 90–2 Palombara, Marquise, 171, 172 Papias, 144 Paracelsus and Paracelsians, 159, 165, 166 Paris, identification of Pseudo-Dionysius with first bishop of, 252 Parmenides, 243, 249, 250 Partridge, Christopher, x, 6, 75, 80 Patanjali yoga, 50 Patrick, Theodore ‘‘Ted,’’ 109, 120, 125, 126, 127 Patrizi, Francesco, 195 Paul (apostle) letters of, 141, 143, 149–50, 151, 153 Pseudo-Dionysius and, 248, 250 Paul of Callinicus, 244 Pausanias, 183

Index Peet, Richard, 81 Pema Lingpa, 232 Pentateuch ascribed to Moses, 2, 265–8 Peter, Gospel of, 143, 145 Peter the Fuller, 244 Peter the Iberian, 244 Peters, L., 45 phenomenological approach to emergence of treasure revelation in Tibetan Buddhism, 220–5 to Mormonism, 57–8 Pherecydes, 191 Philemon RC (Phillippus a Gabella), 165, 170, 173, 174 Philip IV of France, 253 Philo of Alexandria, 261 Philosophes, 80 Pico della Mirandola, Giovanni, 9, 162, 254 Pike, Sarah, 288 Pingree, David, 193 plagiarism Plato and Zoroaster, 187–9 Unificationism’s Divine Principle. See under Unificationism Urantia Book, 209 Plan of Salvation in Mormonism, 60–2 Plato, 160, 162, 187–9, 195, 242, 243, 249 Plethon, Georg Gemistos, 195 Pliny the Elder, 186–7, 192, 194 Plotinus, 189, 241, 243 polygamy or plural marriage in Mormonism, 56, 58, 71 Porphyry, 189–91, 242, 272 Postel, Guillaume, 163 Prinke, Rafal, 170, 173 Proclus, 10, 188–9, 241, 243, 244, 248, 249, 250 prophetic books of Hebrew Bible, 244, 260 Protestant Reformation Mormonism’s self-distinction from, 61 New Testament canonicity in, 150, 152 Pseudo-Dionysius, identity of, 254 Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion, 6, 75–93 Christianity and, 76, 82, 84–9 conspiracy theory and, 84–9 contemporary significance of, 75–7 Dialogue aux Enfers entre Montesquieu et Machiavel (Joly), influence of, 81–2 eschatological discourse and, 85–7 forgery, lack of effect of revelation as, 84 Illuminati conspiracy, association of Jews with, 79–81, 86–7 initial publications and translations of, 82–4 Islam and, 76, 84, 89–93 liberalism, association of Jews with, 81–2 origins of, 76

301

Russian secret police (Okhrana), original creation by, 76, 82 Satan and Devil worship, Jews associated with, 77–8 world domination, theory of Jewish plans of, 78–9 Proverbs, book of, 260, 269 Psalms, book of, 269 pseudepigraphy, 3, 14 in biblical and classical worlds, 262. See also under Hebrew Bible Jewish pseudepigrapha/apocrypha, 264, 273 late antique period, frequency in, 244 in New Testament, 141, 150, 152–5 in Zoroastrianism, 178, 189 Pseudo-Dionysius, 13, 241–56 apostolic authorship, authority conferred by, 251, 254 Chalcedonian/Monophysite controversy and, 243, 244–7, 251–2 dating, 244 Frankish/French royal power vs. imperial/ ecclesiastical power and, 252–4 Hellenism and Christianity, as mediator between, 243, 247–9 Hierotheus and, 243, 248, 250 historical characters inserted into fictional but pedagogically useful relationship, 249–50 identity of, 243 modern concept of originality vs. pre-modern valuation of place within tradition, 241–3, 255–6 mystical methodology, negative theological framework of, 246, 255–6 Neo-Platonic tradition reworked for Christianity by, 241, 247–9, 251, 252 orchestration of composition of works for pedagogical purposes, 250 Paris, identification with first bishop of, 252 Paul and, 248, 250 reasons for original author’s use of pseudonym, 244–51 reception of in late antique period, 251–2 in medieval and early modern period, 252–5 by modern scholars, 255–6 pseudonymous character discovered, 241, 252, 254–5 scholiasts, 251–2 self-representation as Dionysius the Areopagite, 241, 243 skepticism and belief, effects of, 13, 14 Timotheus and, 243, 248, 250

302

Index

Pseudo-Dionysius (cont.) works of, 243–4 Pythagoras, 162, 166, 191, 242 Pythagoreans, 242 Q (Quelle), 143 Qur’an ‘‘Manifest Success’’ doctrine, 86, 92 supposed Jewish attempt to forge, 90 transcendent source, attribution to, 2 Rachovsky, Pyotr Ivanovich, 82 Ralpachen, 214 Ramo´n (shaman), 49 Ranger, Terence, 1, 2, 3, 39, 58, 215 rationality and desire for alternate reality, tension between, 38, 39, 40, 45 RDNA (Reformed Druids of North America), 15, 281. See also Druids; paganisms, modern reconstructionism, Heathen, 283–6 Reformed Druids of North America (RDNA), 15, 281. See also Druids; paganisms, modern relics as invention of sacred tradition, 16 in Tibetan Buddhism, 228–32 religious freedom in Urantia Book copyright case, 207 Renatus, Sincerus (Samuel Richter), 175 Renaudot, Theophraste, 171 Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of LatterDay Saints (RLDS), 56 Respour, Mr. (Daniel Schwanter), 173 Retcliffe, Sir John (Hermann Goedsche), 77, 78 Reuchlin, Johannes, 160, 162 rhetoric and invention of sacred tradition, 38, 47–51 Riccius, Paulus, 174 Richter, Samuel (Sincerus Renatus), 175 ritual as invention of sacred tradition, 16 in Mormonism, 65 treasure revelation in Tibetan Buddhism and, 215, 227 Robertson, Pat, 86–7 Robison, John, 79, 93 Rollin, Henri, 75 Roman world. See classical world Ron’s Org, 26 Rorem, Paul, 244, 251 Rosenkreutz, Christian, 158, 172 Rosicrucians, 8, 158–75 actual orders founded in wake of original hoax, 175 alchemy in Bureus, 161, 163, 164

Dee, influence of, 161, 164–75 in first manifestoes, 158 Fludd’s use of, 159 heavenly dew, 168–75 Paracelsians, 159 ancient wisdom attributed to, 158, 161 apocalypticism in Bureus, 160 in first manifestoes, 158 recognition of origins in, 159 astronomy/astrology, 160, 164–8 Bureus on, 160–4 Christina of Sweden, 168, 169, 171 Dee, influence of, 161, 164–75 early reactions to, 158–60 Fama, 158, 159, 160, 167 Fludd on, 159, 166, 171, 174 Freemasonry and, 175 heavenly dew, 168–75 kabbalah and occult tradition in Bureus, 160, 161–3 Dee, influence of, 161, 164–8 in first manifestoes, 158 Fludd’s use of, 159 Naude´’s analysis of doctrines, 159 Palombara, Marquise, 171 Runic and letter mysticism in Bureus, 161–3 Monas, 161, 164–8 mythology of, 158 northern antiquities and, 161 original perpetrator of hoax, 158 Paracelsians and, 159, 165, 166 publication of original manifestos, 158–9 Runic and letter mysticism, 161–3 Spiritus Mundi (World Soul) in, 159, 174 Rothstein, Mikael, x, 4, 18 Rountree, Kathryn, 288–9 Rubasch, Rich, 125 Runic and letter mysticism of Rosicrucians, 161–3 Runyan, Margaret, 48, 49 Russia ethnic paganisms of former Soviet Union states, 278, 286–7 Illuminati conspiracy and Russian Revolution, 87 Okhrana (secret police) and Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion, 76, 82 Sacks, Sir Jonathan, 89 sacred tradition, inventing. See inventing sacred tradition Sacrobosco, Giovanni, 194 Sadler, Lena, 200 Sadler, William. See under Urantia Book Saga of E´ırik the Red, 284–5

Index Saints Church, 56 sampradaya tradition, 128 Sanchez, Victor, 47 Sarma Buddhism, 220 Satan and Devil worship, Jews associated with, 77–8 Schein, Edgar, 106 Schiff, Jacob, 87 scholiasts and Pseudo-Dionysius, 251–2 Schwanter, Daniel (Mr. Respour), 173 Scientology, 4, 18–37 anonymity of text editors, 35 anti-cultist polemic against, 18, 26, 29, 30 authorship of all sacred texts by L. Ron Hubbard church insistence on, 18 impossibility of, 21–3 internal hermeneutics to explain alterations, lack of, 36 revision of texts according to ‘‘policies’’ and, 26–9, 37 canonical list of texts, 21–2 change, flexibility, and endurance, methods of, 26–9, 32–3 common history, identification of members with, 6 conflation of sacred texts with L. Ron Hubbard’s life, 19–21 construction as religious tradition, methodology of, 29–31 critics of church as unfaithful to Hubbard, 26–9 CST (Church of Spiritual Technology), 25, 29, 32, 34 defense strategies of, 33–5 epistemological end time created by texts, 25, 31 fact vs. truth in, 18, 29, 30, 37 human transmission of tradition, interest in, 2 information age, problems posed by, 11 legal strategies used to protect texts, 29, 34–5 Miscavige, David, 25, 32, 35, 36 organizational structure, 36 ‘‘policies,’’ 26–9, 37 presence of L. Ron Hubbard in world, member belief in, 32 recognition as bona fide religion, desire for, 18, 33 revision of texts according to ‘‘policies,’’ 26–9, 37 RTC (Religious Technology Center), 24–5, 27, 29, 32, 34 skepticism and belief in, 13 social and historical forces creating and maintaining texts, 23–6 Thetan, 35

303

Trementina, NM, underground vaults storing texts in, 25 Scottish kilt, invention of, 1 SCP (Spiritual Counterfeits Project), 129 Scripture. See Bible; Hebrew Bible; New Testament sealing in Mormonism, 65–7 Sebastian, Tim, 280 Seidr, 284, 285 Sendivogius, Michael (the Cosmopolite), 170–4 Serapion, bishop of Antioch, 145 Sethianism, 190 Seventh-Day Adventists counterfeit movement, identified as, 130 Sadler, William, and Urantia Book, 199, 203, 204–5, 209 Severus of Antioch, 244, 251 shamanism Castaneda’s work viewed as presentation of, 42–5 Heathen reconstructionism, 283–6 neo-shamanism, 46, 51, 52, 277 Seidr, 284, 285 Welsh Druidism as form of, 277 Western fascination with, 38 Shapiro, Eli, 102 Shepherd of Hermas, 145, 149 Sibylls, 161, 162 Siegelman, Jim, 103, 105 Silberman, N. A., 268, 270 Siloam Inscription, 259 Sinaiticus codex, 147 Singer, Margaret, 105, 108 Sirach (Ben Sira), 258, 261 skepticism about invented sacred tradition, 12–15. See also critical self-analysis Smith, Alvin, 69 Smith, Joseph, 13, 56, 57, 58, 60, 61, 62–4, 66, 69, 70, 72, 206. See also Mormonism Socrates, 242, 249, 250 Solinus, 186 Solomon, 260, 268–70 Song of Songs, 270 Songtsen Gampo, 214, 222 Sosipater, 245, 253 ‘‘soteriology of the senses,’’ 229 Soviet Union, ethnic paganisms of former states of, 278, 286–7 spiritual counterfeit concept of, 129–31 Unificationism accused of. See under Unificationism Spiritual Counterfeits Project (SCP), 129 Spiritualism Blavatsky, Madame, 39, 50, 205

304

Index

Spiritualism (cont.) channelling as method of reception of Urantia Book, 203–5 Theosophy and Theosophical Society, 8, 47, 205 Spiritus Mundi (World Soul) in Fluddian Rosicrucianism, 159, 174 Squire, Bill, 129 S´r¯ı Sim . ha, 229 Star Trek pagans, 289 Stark, Rodney, 72 Stausberg, Michael, x, 177 Stewart, Don, 129–30 Stiglmayr, Josef, 244 Still, William, 86 Stolcius (Stoltz von Stoltenberg), Daniel, 166 Stoller, Paul, 45 subversion discovery of NRMs’ subversive qualities by anti-cult movement, 101, 102–3, 107–9 as ideology of anti-cult movement, 98 Suda, 186 Sun Bear, 46 Swidler, Ann, 96 SwiftDeer, Harley, 46 tartan, invention of, 1 Templars, Order of, 80 temples Jerusalem temple, lawbook ‘‘discovered’’ in, 265, 267 in Mormonism, 57, 65 Terdag Lingpa, 229 terto¨n. See under treasure revelation in Tibetan Buddhism Tertullian, 147, 242 texts as invention of sacred tradition. See inventing sacred tradition, and specific texts Thatcher, Margaret, 286 Theodosius the Monothelite, 244 Theophilus, Christianus, 165 Theosophy and Theosophical Society, 8, 47, 205 Thetan in Scientology, 35 Thomas Aquinas, 10, 255 Thomas, Gospel of, 143, 146 Thomassen, Einar, xi, 7, 141 Thus Spake Zarathustra (Nietzsche), 178, 195 Tiass, Mustapha, 90 Tibetan Buddhism. See also treasure revelation in Tibetan Buddhism revealed texts in, 12 ‘‘soteriology of the senses’’ in, 229 Tiele, Cornelius, 286 Timmerman, Kenneth, 76

Timotheus and Pseudo-Dionysius, 243, 248, 250 Timothy Aelurus, 245 Toltec Path, 44, 46 tradition as canonical criterion for New Testament. See under New Testament tradition, sacred. See inventing sacred tradition transcendent sources, traditions assigned to Bible as divinely inspired, 147–9, 258 copyright issues and divine authorship, 206–8 in information age, 11 as legitimation of tradition, 2 Qur’an, 2 Urantia Book, 199, 200–1 Zoroastrian corpus, foundational act of divine revelation in, 177 Transcendental Meditation, 129 treasure revelation in Tibetan Buddhism, 12, 213–36. See also Padmasambhava authenticity, assessing, 224, 225–6 authorship of treasure texts, framing of, 217–20 charisma of historical figures through treasure objects, 228–32 of terto¨ns, 216, 228 critical self-analysis, 224 in different schools of Buddhism, 214 discovery process, 226–7 dissemination of texts, 227 emergence as phenomenon, 220–5 as form of tradition, 216 ‘‘golden age’’ trope of decline and revival, 214 heterogenous/accretive/collaborative nature of texts, 219 innovation, as mechanism for, 214 kutsabs, 229–31 landscape, relationship to, 224, 226, 234 materiality of treasures, problems raised by, 224 Nyingma Buddhism, 12, 214, 217–25 Om . Man.ipadme Hu¯m . mantra, 222 ontological conception of past in, 213, 215 relic status of treasure items, 228–32 revival of religion in Tibet since 234–6 rituals associated with, 215, 227 terto¨n or ‘‘treasure revealer’’ (gter ston), 214 authenticity of texts and, 225–6 charismatic authority of, 216, 228 dissemination of texts by, 227–8 as inheritors of imperial period legacy, 222 as ritual focal points, 215 role in transmission theology, 218 routinization into new lineage, 232–4 transmission theology, 218–19 trickster, Castaneda as, 45, 51, 52 Trisong Detsen, 214, 221, 222, 232 Trithemius, Johannes, 167

Index truth vs. fact. See fact vs. truth Tsele Natshok Rangdrol, 233 Turner, Edith, 38 Ukrainian paganism, 278, 286–7 Unam Sanctam, 253, 254 Unificationism, 7, 118–38 anti-cult movement estimates of numbers, 109 anti-cult movement’s attempts to delegitimate, 6, 100, 104. See also anti-cult movement Christianity and Christian or non-Christian identity of Unificationism, 131–2, 137 Divine Principle and Christian scripture, 133–6 fundamentalist/evangelical Christians, 133, 134, 135, 136, 137 Korean Christians’ dislike of Moon, 126 Divine Principle, accusations of unoriginality against, 118–38 accusations of literal plagiarism, 120, 125–7 accusations of plagiarism of ideas, 127–9 accusations of spiritual counterfeit, 129–38 damage done by plagiarism claims, 118–20 Israel Monastery and Kim Baek-moon, 120–2, 125–7, 128 revelations of Moon, validity of, 133 ‘‘The Principle’’ and Divine Principle distinguished, 122 writing and translation of Divine Principle, 122–5 Divine Principle and Christian scripture canonical status of Divine Principle, 133–6 unbiblical nature of Moon’s revelations, 133 Hoon Dok Hon Texts, 124 human history, eras of, 135 messiah, Moon’s claims to be, 119–20, 126, 128, 134, 137 spiritual counterfeit, accusations of, 129–38 canonical status of Divine Principle, 133–6 Christian or non-Christian identity, 131–2, 137 concept of spiritual counterfeit, 129–31 revelations received by Moon, validity of, 132–3 salvation offered by Unificationism, 136–8 terminology for, 118 Unknown Life of Jesus Christ, 10 Urantia Book, 11, 199–212 appearance of, 201 automatic speaking/writing, rejection as product of, 201, 203 channelling as method of reception, 203–5, 211 Contact Commission, 200 copyright issues, 206–8

305 description of, 199 Forum, The, 201, 202, 203, 208 innovative nature of content and reception, stress on, 199, 204 Jesus papers, 207–8, 210–11 lack of authorship, significance of, 205–6 legitimation efforts, 210, 211 as plagiarized, 209 Sadler, William as charismatic leader, 203, 265 on Contact Commission, 200 explanations for events provided by, 201–3 as former Seventh-Day Adventist, 199, 203, 204–5, 209 The Forum’s connection to, 201 ‘‘sleeping subject’’ as patient of, 199, 200 secrecy, stress on, 201–3 Seventh-Day Adventism and, 199, 203, 204–5, 209 skepticism and belief in, 208–12 ‘‘sleeping subject’’ receiving, 199, 200–1, 202–3, 209 ‘‘student visitors’’ or ‘‘celestial beings’’ presenting, 199, 200–1

Valentine, Carol, 88 Valla, Lorenzo, 14, 241, 254 Vaticanus codex, 147 Vedas, 2 Vergil, 162 Verheyden, J., 144 VERITAS, 27–9 Vettius Valens, 192 vicarious baptism (of the dead) in Mormonism, 67–70 Vietnam War, 99 Villanovanus, Johannes, 166 Vimalamitra, 229 Virgil, 162 Visˇta¯spa, 179, 182–3, 184 Vlastov, Stephen, 236 von Shirach, Baldur, 84 Wach, Joachim, 177 Wales and Druidism, 277–8, 280 Walker, Barbara, 288 Wallis, Roy, 48, 51, 52 Warburg, Paul, 87 Warrior Path, 44, 46 Wasson, Gordon, 42 Weber, Max, 4, 20, 24, 47–8, 51, 215 Webster, Nesta, 86 Weishaupt, Adam, 79, 87 Weldon, John, 134 Welsh Druids, 277–8, 280

306

Index

West, Louis, 103, 108 Western culture, 7–9 exoticism in, 8–9 Islamic humiliation by, 91 rationality and desire for alternate reality, tension between, 38, 39, 40, 45 skepticism and belief in, 12, 13, 14, 15 Wicca/Witchcraft. See also paganisms, modern Druidism and, 280, 283 feminist paganisms in New Zealand, 287–9 Gardner and developments of Gardner, 281–3, 286 Wilk, Stan, 45 Wilson, Brian, 48 Winrod, Gerald, 76 Wisdom of Jesus Ben Sira, 258, 261 Woodruff, Wilson, 64 Word-Faith Movement, 130 World Bank, Illuminati linked to, 81 world domination, theory of Jewish plans of, 78–9 ‘‘World Religions,’’ concept of, 286 World Soul (Spiritus Mundi) in Fluddian Rosicrucianism, 159, 174 World Trade Organization (WTO), Illuminati linked to, 81 Yamamoto, J. Isamu, 129 Yaqui sage. See Castaneda, Carlos, and Don Juan Matu´s Yasna, 179, 181 Yates, Frances, 164, 174 ¨ , 221 Yeshe O Yeshe Tsogyal, 219, 226, 227, 234 Young, Brigham, 70

Zand, 185 Zarathustra. See Zoroastrianism and Zoroastrian corpus Zeno, 249, 250 Zoroastrianism and Zoroastrian corpus, 9, 177–95 astronomy/astrology, 178, 192–4 Avesta, 179, 185 Christianity and, 183–4, 189–91 foundational act of divine revelation in, 177 foundational text in, 179 Ga¯tha¯s, 179–81 Gnostics, 189–91 Islam and, 184, 192–4 Ja¯ma¯spa, 182–3, 184, 193 lapidary texts on, 186 misattribution of texts Ga¯tha¯s ascribed to Zoroaster, 180–1 Islamic misattributions, 192–4 scripturalization process and, 183–5 Western misattributions, 180–1, 185–94 Nietzsche’s Also Sprach Zarathustra, 178, 195 Plato as plagiarizer of Zoroaster, 187–9 Pliny the Elder on, 186–7, 192, 194 pre-modern texts, 178–85 pseudepigraphy in, 178, 189 Rosicrucians, 162 scripturalization of, 183–5 Visˇta¯spa, 179, 182–3, 184, 185 Yasna, 179, 181 Zand, 185 Zoroaster Ga¯tha¯s misattributed to, 180–1 Islamic misattributions, 192–4 as key figure, 181–2 scripturalization of corpus and, 184 Western misattributions, 180–1, 185–94, 195 Zostrianos, 189–90