Tuesday, 20 August 2013

The Air Beneath the Moon Part 1

So I have looked into the ancient sources, especially around the time of Paul and the early Christians, to see if the matrix of ideas and beliefs for Earl Doherty' sub-lunar (non-physical) incarnation theory of Jesus can be found in writings of the time. I have used computer searches to seek out key phrases for my quotes, to show that the elements of such a theory were known and discussed around the time of Paul. I have also included later quotes, if they confirm earlier comments.

Of course the authors quoted generally don't support a sub-lunar incarnation of Jesus - because it was Paul who crafted this original conception from that matrix of ideas.

I have used capitals for the key terms to emphasize their nature as specific, formal, named regions.

Disclaimer: I do support Earl's theory, and I often champion his views, and sometimes use his work for sources. I have occasionally been in touch with Earl, even recently when I suggested a few web fora to him. But this essay was written from my personal research of the sources; and occasional reference to Earl's works - any errors are mine.

Anyone is free to duplicate or post or distribute this essay, provide they attribute it to 'Kapyong'.

Ancient Greek philosophers divided the Universe into a broad dichotomy -

  • Above the Moon -
divine, eternal, immortal, unchangeable, ethereal, spiritual, pure, light, divine providence

  • Beneath the Moon -
material, changeable, mortal, corruptible, impure, dark, unreasoned, fortune, reproduction, destruction, perishable, ageing

Here are some quotes showing these various distinctions :
Cicero, The Dream of Scipio, 1st C.BC :
In the lowest Sphere the Moon revolves illumined by the rays of the Sun. Below [the Moon] in truth nothing exists which is not subject to death and decay, save indeed the Souls, which by the gift of the Gods are bestowed upon the human race. Above the Moon all things are eternal,

Plutarch, Isis and Osiris. 1st C. :
for that part of the world which undergoes reproduction and destruction is contained underneath the orb of the Moon, and all things in it are subjected to motion and to change

Plutarch, On the Failure of Oracles, 1st C. :
The power comes from the gods and demigods, but, for all that, it is not unfailing nor imperishable nor ageless, lasting into that infinite time by which all things between Earth and Moon become wearied out, according to our reasoning.

Philo, On Abraham, 1st C. :
...the light in heaven is unalloyed and free from any admixture of darkness, but in the sublunary atmosphere it is mingled with dark air.

Pliny Elder, History 2, 1st C. :
Above the Moon all is pure and lightsome continually.

Epiphanius, Panarion I, 4th C. :
As well [Pythagoras] distinguished between what is Above the Moon which he called immortal, and what is Below [the Moon], which he called mortal.

Epipanius, Panarion I, 4th C. :
Aristotle the son of Nicomachus [said] that things Above the Moon are subject to divine providence, but that what is Below the Moon is not ruled by providence but borne along by some unreasoned motion. But he says there are two worlds, the world above, and the world below, and that the world above is immortal while the world below is mortal.

Eusebius, Preparatio Evangelica 15, 4th C. :
Aristotle: the part of the world Beneath the Moon may be affected by change, and the things terrestrial therein are doomed to perish.

Julian, On the Mother of the Gods, 4th C. :
Attis, therefore, the intelligible Power, the holder together of things material Below the Moon, having intercourse with the pre-ordained Cause of Matter, holds intercourse therewith, not as a male with a female, but as though flowing into it, since he is the same with it.

Sallust, On the Gods and the World, 5th C. :
Fortune has power Beneath the Moon, since Above the Moon no single thing can happen by fortune.

Here is a simple diagram of this dichotomy :

The region Below the Moon or the 'sublunary region' has the Earth as it central part (these are usually seen as concentric spheres, rather than flat layers shown on my simple diagram) :
Chaldean Oracles, 2nd C. :
The Chaldæans assigned the place of the Image, the vehicle of the irrational soul, to the Lunar Sphere; it is probable that by the Lunar Sphere was meant something more than the orb of the Moon, the whole sublunary region, of which the terrestrial Earth is, as it were, the centre

Beneath the Moon are Air, Water and Earth - which undergo change :
Philo, On the life of Moses, 1st C. :
Now of the three elements, out of which and in which all the different kinds of things which are perceptible by the outward senses and perishable are formed, namely, the Air, the water and the Earth, the garment which reached down to the feet in conjunction with the ornaments which were attached to that part of it which was about the ankles have been plainly shown to be appropriate symbols; for as the tunic is one, and as the aforesaid three elements are all of one species, since they all have all their revolutions and changes Beneath the Moon.

Air is Beneath the Moon - and between the Earth and Moon

Air fills the empty regions Below the Moon, between the Earth and the Moon, separating them :
Philo, On the Creation, 1st C. :
For the Air is in a manner spread above the empty space, since having mounted up it entirely fills all that open, and desolate, and empty place, which reaches down to us from the regions Below the Moon.

Plutarch, On the Failure of Oracles, 1st C. :
Now if the Air that is between the Earth and the Moon were to be removed and withdrawn, the unity and consociation of the universe would be destroyed, since there would be an empty and unconnected space in the middle;

Nag Hammadi, Asclepius :
Listen, Asclepius! There is a great demon. The great God has appointed him to be overseer or judge over the souls of men. And God has placed him in the middle of the Air, between Earth and heaven. Now when the soul comes forth from (the) body, it is necessary that it meet this daimon.

The 'sublunar sphere' is a distinct sphere, separate to Earth, Moon, stars, etc. :
Porphyry, On Images, 3rd C. :
There are also nine Muses singing to his lyre, which are the (one) sublunar sphere, and seven spheres of the planets, and one of the fixed stars.

So, the Air is a separate, distinct region between the circle of the Moon and the Earth.

Air is, at least in part, adjacent to Earth.
Philo, The Special Laws, 1st C. :
the rulers being all the bodies which are in heaven, such as planets and fixed stars; and the subjects being all the natures Beneath the Moon, hovering in the Air and adjacent to the Earth.

Plutarch, The Plays of Homer, 1st C. :
The top part of the Air is finer and more distant from the Earth and its exhalations.

The Upper Air is just Beneath the Moon :
Julian, The Caesars, 4th C. :
But just Below the Moon in the upper Air he had decided to entertain the Emperors.

Good souls rest in the mildest parts of Air, unjust souls are punished elsewhere :
Plutarch, On the Face in the Moon, 1st C. :
Unjust and licentious souls pay penalties for their offences; but the good must for a certain appointed time, sufficient to purge away and blow to the winds, as noxious exhalations, the defilements which come from the body, their vicious cause, be in that mildest part of the Air which they call 'The Meadows of Hades'
So, there are at least two parts to the Air.

Shown in a diagram, it seems like this :

Completing The Picture
There are also the following spheres or worlds to add :
  • The underworld (Hades, Tartarus, Elysium)
  • The Planetary Spheres
  • The Empyrean (a late term for the highest sphere)
This gives a picture like so :

This is my summation of the classical view - but not everyone saw it exactly the same - some early writers locate Hades Under the Moon, at the Moon, or even on the far side.

The Air is filled with living beings and things and events

It should be clear that the Air is not the same as the mundane air i.e. atmosphere, (although it developed from it.) The atmosphere was generally seen as being the highest physical later of Earth, and perhaps co-mingling with the lower Air.

In the Air are many living beings - invisible souls, demons, spirits, angels - they can see us, but we generally cannot see them :
Philo, On Dreams, 1st C. :
This Air is the abode of incorporeal souls, since it seemed good to the Creator of the universe to fill all the parts of the world with living creatures. On this account he prepared the terrestrial animals for the Earth, the aquatic animals for the sea and for the rivers, and the stars for the heaven; for every one of these bodies is not merely a living animal, but is also properly described as the very purest and most universal mind extending through the universe; so that there are living creatures in that other section of the universe, the Air.

Philo, On the Giants, 1st C. :
Those beings, whom other philosophers call demons, Moses usually calls angels; and they are souls hovering in the Air.
It is therefore necessary that the Air also should be full of living beings. And these beings are invisible to us, inasmuch as the Air itself is not visible to mortal sight.

Plutarch, On the face in the Moon 28, 1st C. :
All souls, whether without mind or with it, when it has issued from the body is destined to wander in the region between Earth and Moon but not for an equal time.

Lucan, 1st C. :
205 Now darkness came upon their wondering gaze, Now daylight pale and wan, their helmets wreathed In pallid mist; the spirits of their sires Hovered in Air, and shades of kindred dead Passed flitting through the gloom.

Testament of Solomon, 1st-5th C. :
Testament of Solomon, son of David, who was king in Jerusalem, and mastered and controlled all spirits of the Air, on the Earth, and under the Earth.

Some demons Under the Moon are good :
Porphyry, On Abstinence from Animal food, 3rd C. :
Such souls as are the progeny of the whole soul of the universe, and who govern the great parts of the region under the Moon, these, being incumbent on a pneumatic substance or spirit, and ruling over it conformably to reason, are to be considered as good dæmons,

Some demons or 'powers' of the Air are bad, but can be conquered by the actions of Christian martyrs :
Augustine, City of God, 4th C. :
And these fables mystically signified that Juno was mistress of the Air, which they suppose to be inhabited by the demons and the heroes, understanding by heroes the souls of the well-deserving dead. But for a quite opposite reason would we call our martyrs heroes,--supposing, as I said, that the usage of ecclesiastical language would admit of it,--not because they lived along with the demons in the Air, but because they conquered these demons or powers of the Air,

Non-Physical Actions Occur in the Air

Various sorts of (non-physical) actions are performed by the beings in the Air - especially related to death, punishment, and birth.

Demons punish souls in lakes in the Air and reform them for birth :
Plutarch, Vision of Arideus, 1st C. :
when the souls of the dead come up from below, they form a fiery bubble as they cleave the air; ...

Moreover, he said, there were certain lakes that lay parallel and equidistant one from the other, the one of boiling gold, another of lead, exceeding cold, and the third of iron, which was very scaly and rugged. By the sides of these lakes stood certain Daemons, that with their instruments, like smiths or founders, put in or drew out the souls of such as had transgressed either through avarice or an eager desire of other men’s goods....

The last thing he saw was the souls being modified for rebirth. They were being wrenched and reshaped into all kinds of living creatures by specialist artisans, who were using a combination of tools and blows to join and force together some parts, twist others back, and obliterate and eliminate others altogether, so as to make the souls fit different characteristics and ways of life. And he saw among the others Nero's soul, which was in a bad way, not least because it had been run through with red-hot nails.

Transparent sacrifices occur in the bright Air, and it is filled with light for the manifestation of things below :
Macarius Magnes, Apocritus, 4th C. :
So invisible spirits which flew in the Air, which Isaiah sang of as flying serpents, demanded white and transparent sacrifices of birds, seeing that the Air chances to be bright, and filled with light for the manifestation of the things that are below.

Note the comment that gods have non-physical bodies and blood :
Cicero, On the Nature of the Gods :
it must be admitted that the gods have the outward aspect of man, though this is not body, but quasi-body, and does not contain blood, but quasi-blood.

So it is clear that higher beings and objects existed - not having physical bodies - but some OTHER sort of material.

All life on Earth is affected from the Air

Air is filled with the seeds of vitality, vital spirit, and is productive of life due to God's special favour :
Philo, On the Giants, 1st C. :
It is then natural that that medium by which all other animals, whether aquatic of terrestrial, are vivified should itself be empty and destitute of souls? On the contrary, even if all other animals were barren, the Air by itself would be bound to be productive of life, having received from the great Creator the seeds of vitality by his especial favour.

Pliny Elder, History 2, 1st C. :
For even that part also have our forefathers called the Sky, which otherwise they name Air: even all that portion of the whole, which seeming like a void and empty place, yields this vital spirit whereby all things do live. This region is seated Beneath the Moon,

Origen, Celsus 8, 3rd C. :
Celsus goes on to say: "Let any one inquire of the Egyptians, and he will find that everything, even to the most insignificant, is committed to the care of a certain demon. The body of man is divided into thirty-six parts, and as many demons of the Air are appointed to the care of it, each having charge of a different part, although others make the number much larger. "

Conclusion :

By Paul's time, the following beliefs were known and discussed :
  • There is a distinct region between the Earth and the Moon
  • This region, called 'Air', is Beneath the Moon
  • This Air separates the Earth from the Moon
  • The Air is occupied with invisible beings, spirits, souls, demons, even Gods
  • In the Air are non-physical things - lakes, thrones, crowns, gardens, graves, nails etc.
  • In the Air are non-physical beings, good and bad - souls, demons, spirits, even Gods
  • In the Air higher Beings take action - such as whipping, punishments, reforming souls
  • What happens In the Air is vital to us down on Earth.

Next, I will look specifically into the Christian view of such things as the firmament and heavens etc.

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