Sunday, 19 April 2015
Theme of the Sacred History of Being
The Sacred History of Being has as its radical thesis that knowledge was at the heart of ancient religion, both in Greece and the ancient Near East. And that the source of all knowledge was understood to be Being itself.
Formerly argued by classical scholars to have been first discussed by the ancient Greeks in the middle of the first millennium B.C.E., the articulate concept of Being can now be traced as far back as the middle of the second millennium, and the state of Assyria, whose artefacts are currently being destroyed by the 'Islamic State'.
The Greeks themselves had several stories about the origins of philosophy, a discipline which essentially deals with abstractions, including that it originated elsewhere, but that is not the received narrative. The consequence of this, is that all historians of ideas, when constructing their accounts of the intellectual development of man before the arrival of Parmenides and Plato, have had to negotiate the established fact that the Greeks invented philosophy, and the corollary, that articulate discussion of the abstract concept 'Being' didn’t happen before this.
This can now be shown to be a faulty understanding, resulting in many absurdities. The Old Testament has examples where God declares his identity with Being itself (‘I am that I am’, better translated into English as ‘I am that which is,’ and ‘I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God', for example), but these are not regarded by scholars as evidence of a sophisticated discourse around the idea of Being. Instead these statements indicate inchoate ‘notions’ about the nature of god, rather than anything more profound.
The Sacred History of Being unpicks this log-jam in the history of ideas, largely the legacy of classical scholarship from the late eighteenth century onward, so that it is possible for us to allow the texts which survive to mean what they mean.
The text of The Sacred History of Being was completed in November 2014. Initial publication will be in eBook format (PDF) Publication was originally due on the 10th August 2015, but formatting issues have resulted in a delay. Uptodate info on publication is available from the Resource Pages section.