5. Symphony of Emergence 

   

 
The Old Testament As Eonic Data

  

Section 5 .2.2




 
World History 
And The Eonic Effect

Civilization, Darwinism, And Theories of Evolution
4th Edition
The Book
By  John Landon

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 CHAPTERS:
 

 
 

  5. Symphony of Emergence  
     5.1 Cycle, System Return: The Axial Age  
        5.1.1 Non-genetic Evolution
        5.1.2 Karen Armstrong's The Great Transformation
        5.1.3 Art, Evolution and The Tragic Genre  
     5.2 Stream and Sequence: The Axial Transitions   
        5.2.1 Archaic Greece: The Clue 
        5.2.2 The Old Testament as Eonic Data 
        5.2.3 Aryans, Hinduism, and a Buddhist Revolution
        5.2.4 Axial China: Continuity and Discontinuity
        5.2.5 A Flowering of Greek Tragedy and The Birth Of    Democracy  
     5.3 A Rebirth of Freedom...Cycle, System Return       
NOTES  
     5.4 On The Threshold of World Civilization  
        5.4.1 Slavery, Abolition, and Eonic Sequence
        5.4.2 Religion and Empire      
 
 

Next: 
 6. Transition and Modernity

 
  
        

    World History And The Eonic Effect: Fourth Edition

     5.2.2 The Old Testament as Eonic Data

 

One of the most remarkable cases of the eonic effect is reflected in the Old Testament . Historians are beginning to close in on the Old Testament  period, to produce an account that finally begins to make sense of the confusing history and scholarship here. Biblical scholarship, so-called, has often been little more than the theologian’s disinformation. We have to manage to be somewhat ruthless, and yet respectful here. We are about to annex the Old Testament to a secular model. The document, as it stands now, is beyond salvage on its own terms. But a secular account can fail as badly as the religious.

One advantage of our eonic approach is that we can partition world history into a series of meaningful blocks, and assess their high level relationships, up to a point, without the exact data. Thus we might inject some bogus data from the Old Testament account, passed like bad money by theologians, and then find that wrong. But our ‘eonic history’ of the Old Testament would remain, more or less. That’s because it is pure architecture with default content, e.g. the well-attested facts we know, and even those we may not know. And those facts are almost entirely in the ‘eonic Axial range’. Almost nothing can be taken at face value in this labyrinth of distortions. But an invariant structure remains in all accounts. That high-level model merely says that the core Old Testament block, a few centuries before the Exile, roughly, in the period of the Prophets, shows ‘eonic determination’, Axial Age correlation, same as Archaic Greece, which it resembles very closely (at this level of abstraction). We can see immediately on the grounds of periodization alone that we are missing something in the standard accounts, religious or secular. The religious account is mythic, while the secular can’t explain the timing. Timing of what? However, the right data finally seems to be emerging, and it fits our eonic model to a tee.

In fact the whole document falls into our lap as a play of ‘eonic data’ built around a transition, albeit in disguise. Don’t be distracted by monotheism here. Like Orpheus, if you look backward at Eurydice, you will be lost, confused all over again. A transition is a fuzzy time-zone patch where eonic emergents appear on schedule in a frontier effect. The relative transform of the nth god name sequence is itself an eonic emergent, monotheism is an eonic emergent self-referentially applied to its own ‘history’. A close look shows an embedded account of this eonic transition. Let us look again at our stream analysis of the Greeks:

An independent stream, e.g. Indo-European Greeks

A mideonic entry into a diffusion field, e.g. Mycenaeans

A transitional time-slice, e.g. the Archaic Greek period

A post-transitional oikoumene

Let us note in passing that the third, transitional period produces a great literature in the gesture of putting the Iliad into writing, sometime in the eighth century or early seventh. This literature is about the second Mycenaean period, which is not a part of the Axial period. So it is the transitional rendition of ‘stream entry myths’ that is significant.

Now substitute the relevant data from the Canaanite area of the emergent ‘Israel’. Our Axial period clearly seems to straddle a broad band all the way across Eurasia, one transition in a suitable roughly spaced spot from Rome to China. We have to be careful and not exclude other ‘eonic data’ in the Mesopotamian region. But, as history shows, this field tends to fail the test of the ‘acorn effect’ and we see the hopeless cases like the Assyrian empire rise and disappear, unable to extricate themselves from the mideonic empire trap. (Note that Israel is itself barely able to manage its acorn effect, and yet seems to survive its own demise as a kingdom. First ‘ Israel ’ is lost, as the remnant Judah becomes the carrier, then that is lost). The only real survivor of this area will prove to be the Biblical documents and the Judaic stream. With that caveat (we will see clear blending later with Zoroastrian thematics), we can take this one great gift of data slightly to the fore. We get the following:

An independent stream, e.g. Semitic Canaanites

A mideonic entry into a diffusion field, e.g. tales of Egypt, a kingdom in the field of late Mesopotamian mideonic empires

A transitional time-slice, e.g. ‘Israel’ and Judah up to the Exile

A post-transitional oikoumene or generator, here spectacular, several religions

The two structures are isomorphic, if we can sort out the actual data that we are dealing with. The Old Testament clearly records a transition, but throws us off the scent because of its instant mythological wrapper. But given this resemblance of our two lists we can safely predict the key period will correspond to the Greek Dark Ages and Archaic period. And that there might be a clustering near the divide, if we can find one to correspond to the modern. Tracking backward 2400 years gives us about -600, the period of or just before the Exile. The clue might lie there and our butterfly net coordinates suggests something interesting between about -900 and -600, especially the last half: about the time of the major Prophets! We check the divide period. Let’s look at ‘state of the art’ Biblical Criticism , attempting to uncover the archaeology of Israel. As the authors of The Bible Unearthed note,

During a few extraordinary decades of spiritual ferment and political agitation toward the end of the seventh century BCE, an unlikely coalition of Judahite court officials, scribes, priests, peasants, and prophets came together to create a new movement. At its core was a sacred scripture of unparalleled literary and spiritual genius. It was an epic saga woven together from an astonishingly rich collection of historical writings, memories, legends, folk tales, anecdotes, royal propaganda prophecy, and ancient poetry.[i]

So the Old Testament is really a creation of the divide period! It may not be quite that simple, but the point is clear. This is a climax of strains emerging in the period of Axial phasing. Thus the new world of Biblical archaeology is producing a remarkable result, in the almost complete erosion of the standard Old Testament mythology. The secular student of the eonic effect finds the ‘eonic rubric’, compression near the seventh century, splendidly confirmed by the emerging picture of the rapid crystallization of a viable but still contradictory monotheism in the ‘YHWH alone’ movement and the testimony of the Prophets, in a rapid phase visible consolidated in the period of Josiah. It is here that many of the outstanding Judaic myths suddenly crystallize via the formation of an ideology of what is still a ‘state religion’ in the kingdom of Judah. And it is this corpus, complete with its contradictions and the strategies of its lost moment, that will be injected into the world stream, among other characteristics its unwitting record of the eonic effect being the most ironic, and the strange ‘miracle’ of another kind, the secular student must reckon with as he inherits the elegant remnant of this ‘tavern of ruin’ as eonic data. We tend to get into a snafu over the clear nationalistic origin of the Bible, its Prophetic anticipations (with retroactive fudging), and the final result, which is several religions in tandem. But in fact the whole structural dynamic is ‘eonic’ from beginning to end, as long as we don’t get sidetracked by later revisionism. It is hard to think of anything more remarkable than the appearance of the Prophets, but it is not more remarkable than the appearance of the Greek Pre-Socratics, Buddha, Confucius, and Lao Tse.

We see the pieces falling into place once we realize that the patriarchal myths of Abraham, the tale of the Exodus, the saga of Joshua and the invasion of Canaan , and the Davidic/Solomonic Kingdom are later nationalistic myths emerging over the transition and starting to crystallize just before the Exile. These are stream entry materials from the mideonic period. Elements clearly predated this codification, but the point is that we see the eonic timing almost eerily in place. Who were the Israelites then? In fact we see that current archaeology shows us the highland peoples drifting in and out of Bedouin stages in the millennium before the pastoralist David, around whom a considerable myth is to be created. The account that we have is backdated with the later codifications we now see in the Bible. Monotheism appears relatively late, in organized form, although there is no objection to evidence that it existed in some primordial version much earlier. But there are still clear elements of polytheistic religion until near the end. And in fact, the whole point was that there was a process of consolidation based on the Jerusalem temple, appearing near the end of the eighth century in our ‘acorn field’, the remarkable Judah.

Now compare this to the Greek case. We can almost map isomorphic elements one to one between the two. Both produce a nationalistic literature during a transition, using elements outstanding from a mideonic legacy of the culture stream. This history of the Israelites turning into Jews shows a remarkable culture-form, something like networking ironically enforced by the repeated loss of the ‘geographical base’. The spread of this network into the coming worlds of recurrent empire will prove a source of general innovations throughout that greater area yielding finally to the Roman world, and this feature goes a long way toward accounting for the emergent Christianity to come.

We must be very careful of teleological questions here, keeping in mind that while our large-scale model shows ‘eonic directionality’, that does not allow us to transfer that directionality to the interiors and their mideonic productions, e.g. Christianity. Our model only allows ‘seeds sown in a transition’ to create a cone of diffusion in its follow-up, as the period of eonic determination passes into ‘free action’. Some other form of explanation is needed. We can make no teleological statements about the relationship of emergent monotheism and later Judaism, Christianity or Islam, save that they are in the oikoumenes generated by the transition. However, we can see that while our eonic effect is intermittent, and complete by the time of the divide, ca. the period of the Exile, the clear sense of the transition is the creation of instruments of cultural integration, oikoumenes, and that is the result we see emerging in the wake of this transition. Beware of teleological thinking here, and indeed we see in the centuries to come clear ‘teleological tragedy ’ in action as the collision and jackknifing of the mideonic and transitional productions. It is worth proceeding to the Indic example to see the eerie isomorphism once again in the transitional gestation and crystallization of a world religion. For a system modeler this result is far more gripping than the mythology of the text itself.

The Bible and the Iliad In conclusion, in spite of the dangers of speculation, let us not underestimate our system or forget the implications of our eonic sequence. We just learned to see how remarkable the case of the Greek transition is. It ends up being less equipped to travel culturally than the Judaic, but the core dynamic is the same, and we suddenly are stunned to see a ‘frequency phenomenon’ behind the rapid emergentism of literatures in the mainline. Thus, as a matter of frequency the Iliad appears in world history. What could such a bizarre statement mean? We could backtrack to that period, sure to discover that while Homer might have been a great poet (if he existed at all) historical homogeneity could not be violated, and we could (sort of) imagine how the Iliad came about. And yet as we zoom out we see a clear macroevolutionary meaning in our sense. Our model can accept this data then, but it is remarkable indeed.

And that does not preempt any other deeper explanation of the context and free activity of a Homer (who might have been a committee). Our eonic periods are truly enigmas. Consider the onset of the Greek Archaic, and the sudden, out of the blue crystallization of its stream entry literature (bards and their oral epics) across the boundary of eonic sequence. Presto, a great masterwork. Thus we can muse on a classic example of an eonic effect, the appearance of the Iliad.

This is a frequency phenomenon, no? Regardless of whether we decide on a real Homer or not. Understand this example, and the eonic effect is yours. The stream, i.e. proto-Hellenic bardic traditions (mixed with other Middle Eastern traditions), suddenly produces a great literature in the wake of Homer, as if on schedule, as it intersects with the cyclical sequence, why? A man wrote this. But it is a clear function of time, taken in our large blocks. So what’s the answer? Whatever the answer, we see that the temporal stream and the evolutionary sequence are distinct. What a beautiful way to evolve a field of disparate (and very stubborn) ‘primitives’, if we can manage the ‘nameless something’ that does this sort of thing without naming it. Now translate this argument to the Old Testament, and see what you see.

Canaan and ‘Israel/Judah’: The Old Testament Riddle It is hard, in fact, impossible, to think of any other explanation than that of the eonic effect, for what is bequeathed to us by the redactors of the Old Testament, who, incidentally, lived after the events they purported to describe. It is the eonic ‘smoking gun’, for behind its history, however we reconstruct historical incidents from its account, lies an implicit straddling of the period -900 to -600, with a particular intensity in the period between -750 and afterward, an eonic Bull’s eye, and indirect evidence that stands on its own irregardless of the complete facts.

The study of Israel  from the eonic perspective is in the final analysis the most effective for it can help in seeing that the impulse to find transcendental explanations is automatically suggested by the intangibility of the eonic sequence .

Minimum Eonic Periodization of ‘Histories of Israel’:

1. stream approach

2. transitional period: eonic sequence intersection

3. divide period

4. realization period.

That’s it, our eonic history of Israel. And it resolves all the paradoxes of the Israel phenomenon. Reflect on the overall dynamic context. The only safe data, as the Greek example might have forewarned us, is that of the prophetic period, precisely at the climax of phase, and the period of the Exile and the post-Exilic history. David and Solomon are almost like Achilles, and Agamemnon, probably existed... The eonic matrix shows us the master key, satisfied by all accounts. The Old Testament redactors in the period from after the Exile unconsciously followed a procedure based on these steps, for the same reason the modern historian is confused by the continuity-discontinuity paradox of the modern, its medieval antecedent, and the sudden clustering near a divide.

Thus it is important to see that the redactors were at step 4, overwhelmed by the period at step 3, and attempting to interpret, create, and include the remnant documents and memories of steps 2, and the mythical or semi-historical step 1.

1. First we have the ‘primordial’ semi-historical Abraham/Moses stage, corresponding to the mid-eonic phase of the Canaanite cultures in the shadow of the Middle Eastern empires springing from Babylon and Egypt, the world of the Ugarit.

 2. This period of the stream leads into the just-before period of Solomon, the history and kingdom of a people in a not especially extraordinary Mediterranean kingdom and empire, flourishing and then going into what many describe as a start of political decline. The kingdom is evidently not the transitional phenomenon. By -750 the age of the prophets is the one clear outer symptom of the transition given to us, so parallel with the Upanishadic Age. It is this phase of the prophets that tokens the period of transition as such, just as the Greek philosophers token the Greek transition.

3. We see the climax of the prophetic movement just as the divide point is reached. It is indeed extraordinary to see the emergence of monotheism and its sudden packaging in the period after -600. As the system crosses the divide we see the Persian  phenomenon and its state ‘Zoroastrianism’, blending in, and then the great expansion of the Jewish network into the Middle East and Mediterranean worlds.

The ship has set sail, and we are in the emerging world of Judaism. Shot out of a cannon, the Israelites become Jews and burrow into the Roman Empire as a parallel counterpoint to the ‘great Athens’ passing into Rome. Like a ‘throw and catch’ in a computer program it is this strain in the great classical phase that will unveil from its latency the ‘failsafe’ response to the great passage from transitional ‘eonic determination’ to ‘free action’. As our system passes from Solon to Pericles, to Alexander, to the Caesars, a ‘recovery’ vehicle emerges in halting steps from the Judaic branch as the rising oikoumene inherits of the benefits of parallelism.

It is significant, as a lost strain of this transition, that the tale of the Exodus myth expresses one of the first appearances in world history of the type of ‘revolutionary ideology’, however seminal in form. The Post-Exilic world was many things, and one aspect of it was a conservative continuation of the type of ‘temple culture’ already very ancient in the Middle East . The ‘revolution’ is still the ‘revolution of the ages’ with its transparent symbolism of ‘new age’ and ‘Egyptian repression’.  

 

    Notes

  Web:  chap5_2_2.htm

 

[i] Israel Finkelstein and Neil Silberman, The Bible Unearthed, (New York: The Free Press, 2001).

 

 
 


 

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Last modified: 09/27/2010