Creation and "The Word"

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Bearamir 23/May/2006 at 12:02 PM
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Ragnelle & Eladar:  I have transferred your discussion from the "Tolkien and Hindu Mythology" thread.  Please feel free to continue your discussion here

  Ragnelle Bring to Admin Console   View Last 10 Posts   View Last 10 House Posts Monday, May 08, 2006 at 13:40
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avantika: Glad you found it interesting. I do not know the many pages on the internet that deals with the Norse myths well enough to recomend some more than others, but on this page: http://www.sacred-texts.com/neu/pre/pre04.htm you will find the story as told in the Prose Edda written by Snorri Sturlason (in an English translation). You will need to scroll down the page a little to find the story, but it might be easier to just read from the begining.

 And here: http://www.sacred-texts.com/neu/poe/ you will find a translation of the Poetic Edda. The first poem, Voluspo, tells of the creation and destruction of the world.

I tend to direct people to primary sources like this, but there are numerous pages that deals with the Norse myths. Some of them are not bad, though some are dreadful. Sadly the best pages  - of what I have seen - are not in English but in one of the Scandinavian languages, which I guess does not help you very much .

As for the biblical tradition, whether it is the command or the sound is not as clear at one would think. God creates by the act of speaking and it is the speaking of the words that make the world to be - much like Iluvatar saying Eä! Let these things Be! and Eä becomes real. The spoken word can not be seperated from the command, and vise versa.

Ernst Cassirer, a German philsopher, deals in his book Language and Myth with the origin of language and conexts it strongly with the origin of myth and religion, basacly saying that they evolved in a sybiosis (short version). In the chapter dealing with Word Magic he writes:

"The original bond between the linguistic and the mythico-religious consciousness is primarly expressed in the fact that all verbal structures appear as also mythical entities, endowed with certain mythical powers, that the Word, in fact, becomes a sort of primary force, in which all being and doing originate. In all mythical cosmogonies, as far back as they can be traced, this supreme position of the Word is found." (Ernst Cassirer: Language and Myth, Word Magic)

I think this is one reason that the Ainulindale seems to resonate several myths and traditions - because there is a strong likeness between othervise different religions and mythologies when it comes to the word or sound. Words are, after all, soundpatterns that are given spesific meaning, therefore I do not see the great difference between a spesific sound (Eä or OM) and words in this context.



Practising Dyslexic.Do not let ortographical digressions interfere with the intentions of this statement.


  Eladar Bring to Admin Console   View Last 10 Posts   View Last 10 House Posts Friday, May 19, 2006 at 18:49
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But the singing did not create Ea.  The singing foretold what would happen and how things would come about, but it only told the story.  It was Eru’s command, "Let if Be".   Everything coming into existance based on God’s command is pretty much lifted directly from Genesis.

Ragnelle,

As for the biblical tradition, whether it is the command or the sound is not as clear at one would think. God creates by the act of speaking and it is the speaking of the words that make the world to be - much like Iluvatar saying Eä! Let these things Be! and Eä becomes real. The spoken word can not be seperated from the command, and vise versa.

What do you base your observation concerning the ’sound’ aspect of creation?  Why would God need to create a way of creating something?  Unlike Eru, there is no power ouside of God (Eru and the Flame Imperishable).

  Ragnelle Bring to Admin Console   View Last 10 Posts   View Last 10 House Posts Saturday, May 20, 2006 at 08:15
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Eladar: I base my observation simply on the story told in the first chapter of Genisis. "And God said, Let there be light: and there was light" Genisis 1, 3 - King James version (only English Bible I’ve got). There is nothing told of him thinking and then speaking: he speaks, and the world is created. The speaking is the command.

As well there is the teory of the speech-act (not sure of the propper English term, thisis a direct rendering of the Norwegian talehandling ); the regocniition that some verbal utterances are porpper actions, such as when the person that preforms the sermony at a wedding pronunce the couple husband and wife. The utterance of the propper words, at the propper time and by the propper person, makes it true.

But basically it is the story itself that make me reason this way. God says, and it is so. How can any, even God, speak without utter any sound? Speaking is to make sounds. Comunication withouth sound is either sign-language or writings, but not speach.



Practising Dyslexic.Do not let ortographical digressions interfere with the intentions of this statement.
  Eladar Bring to Admin Console   View Last 10 Posts   View Last 10 House Posts Saturday, May 20, 2006 at 08:46
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There is nothing told of him thinking and then speaking: he speaks, and the world is created. The speaking is the command.

How do you think someone would describe a command?  Would someone write: God thought, let there be light, then said "let there be light".  No, usually it would simply described as the action itself. 

); the regocniition that some verbal utterances are porpper actions, such as when the person that preforms the sermony at a wedding pronunce the couple husband and wife. The utterance of the propper words, at the propper time and by the propper person, makes it true.

What is this theory rooted in?  Is rooted in Christian thought or magic?  It would seem more logical that it is rooted in magic, since there is no such theory in the Bible.

How can any, even God, speak without utter any sound?

Good question.  How could God speak without matter?  Sound does not pass through a vacuum.  Sound requires air though which the waves travel.  Yet God exists before the universe exists and according to the theory you are proposing used sound to create matter.  Seems impossible to me.

Speaking is to make sounds. Comunication withouth sound is either sign-language or writings, but not speach.

True, but since no one was actually there to see or hear. (perhaps God can speak directly from mind to mind, we will never know.

  Ragnelle Bring to Admin Console   View Last 10 Posts   View Last 10 House Posts Saturday, May 20, 2006 at 09:37
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Eladar: The term ’speech act’ (I have now looked up the term) was first used by J.L. Austin and would naturaly not be used in the Bible. The teories around this came mostly after Austin’s death in 1960, and does not really have anything to do with Christianity or magic as such, but more philosophical in nature. It deals mostly with how some acts can only be commited with words, such as promises. But also quite a few religious sermonies are depended on the correct words to be effective.

To give a Christian example: the Communioun. Alt least among the oldest churches, such as the Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches, but also the newer Lutheran churches (I belong to the church of Norway, which is Lutheran), it is the speaking of the propper words, by the propper person (a priest) , that transform the bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ. Withouth the propper words the elements are not transformed and there is no true Communion.

We can also quite easily find examples of the pover of the word in the Bible. The Gospel according to st. John:

"In the begining was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the begining with God. All things were made by him; and withouth him was not any thing made that was made." St. John. 1, 1-3. My emphasis.

And later: "And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us" St. John 1, 14

Combind this with the creationstory in Genisis 1, and you see that the Word is given quite a lot of importance in Christian though. The Word, in st. John, is Christ, who I understand is a rather importaint figure in the Christian faith. This fits with the story in Genisis where God creates by his Word. Whether someone was there or not to hear, is of no consern in the story. Nor is vacum. And as there is already water present, I do not see how there could have been any vacum. The story is a myth, and pressing it into out modern sience, only distorts our understanding of it. The mythological thought expressed in this story is that God creates by speaking, thus also giving a spesial power to the Word. Mythicaly speaking.

But is was about Hindu Myths, not Christian, so we migth better take our discusion of this somewhere else.



Practising Dyslexic.Do not let ortographical digressions interfere with the intentions of this statement.
Bearamir 23/May/2006 at 12:02 PM
Emeritus Points: 16276 Posts: 16742 Joined: 21/Sep/2008

Ragnelle & Eladar:  I have transferred your discussion from the "Tolkien and Hindu Mythology" thread.  Please feel free to continue your discussion here

  Ragnelle Bring to Admin Console   View Last 10 Posts   View Last 10 House Posts Monday, May 08, 2006 at 13:40
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avantika: Glad you found it interesting. I do not know the many pages on the internet that deals with the Norse myths well enough to recomend some more than others, but on this page: http://www.sacred-texts.com/neu/pre/pre04.htm you will find the story as told in the Prose Edda written by Snorri Sturlason (in an English translation). You will need to scroll down the page a little to find the story, but it might be easier to just read from the begining.

 And here: http://www.sacred-texts.com/neu/poe/ you will find a translation of the Poetic Edda. The first poem, Voluspo, tells of the creation and destruction of the world.

I tend to direct people to primary sources like this, but there are numerous pages that deals with the Norse myths. Some of them are not bad, though some are dreadful. Sadly the best pages  - of what I have seen - are not in English but in one of the Scandinavian languages, which I guess does not help you very much .

As for the biblical tradition, whether it is the command or the sound is not as clear at one would think. God creates by the act of speaking and it is the speaking of the words that make the world to be - much like Iluvatar saying Eä! Let these things Be! and Eä becomes real. The spoken word can not be seperated from the command, and vise versa.

Ernst Cassirer, a German philsopher, deals in his book Language and Myth with the origin of language and conexts it strongly with the origin of myth and religion, basacly saying that they evolved in a sybiosis (short version). In the chapter dealing with Word Magic he writes:

"The original bond between the linguistic and the mythico-religious consciousness is primarly expressed in the fact that all verbal structures appear as also mythical entities, endowed with certain mythical powers, that the Word, in fact, becomes a sort of primary force, in which all being and doing originate. In all mythical cosmogonies, as far back as they can be traced, this supreme position of the Word is found." (Ernst Cassirer: Language and Myth, Word Magic)

I think this is one reason that the Ainulindale seems to resonate several myths and traditions - because there is a strong likeness between othervise different religions and mythologies when it comes to the word or sound. Words are, after all, soundpatterns that are given spesific meaning, therefore I do not see the great difference between a spesific sound (Eä or OM) and words in this context.



Practising Dyslexic.Do not let ortographical digressions interfere with the intentions of this statement.


  Eladar Bring to Admin Console   View Last 10 Posts   View Last 10 House Posts Friday, May 19, 2006 at 18:49
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But the singing did not create Ea.  The singing foretold what would happen and how things would come about, but it only told the story.  It was Eru’s command, "Let if Be".   Everything coming into existance based on God’s command is pretty much lifted directly from Genesis.

Ragnelle,

As for the biblical tradition, whether it is the command or the sound is not as clear at one would think. God creates by the act of speaking and it is the speaking of the words that make the world to be - much like Iluvatar saying Eä! Let these things Be! and Eä becomes real. The spoken word can not be seperated from the command, and vise versa.

What do you base your observation concerning the ’sound’ aspect of creation?  Why would God need to create a way of creating something?  Unlike Eru, there is no power ouside of God (Eru and the Flame Imperishable).

  Ragnelle Bring to Admin Console   View Last 10 Posts   View Last 10 House Posts Saturday, May 20, 2006 at 08:15
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Eladar: I base my observation simply on the story told in the first chapter of Genisis. "And God said, Let there be light: and there was light" Genisis 1, 3 - King James version (only English Bible I’ve got). There is nothing told of him thinking and then speaking: he speaks, and the world is created. The speaking is the command.

As well there is the teory of the speech-act (not sure of the propper English term, thisis a direct rendering of the Norwegian talehandling ); the regocniition that some verbal utterances are porpper actions, such as when the person that preforms the sermony at a wedding pronunce the couple husband and wife. The utterance of the propper words, at the propper time and by the propper person, makes it true.

But basically it is the story itself that make me reason this way. God says, and it is so. How can any, even God, speak without utter any sound? Speaking is to make sounds. Comunication withouth sound is either sign-language or writings, but not speach.



Practising Dyslexic.Do not let ortographical digressions interfere with the intentions of this statement.
  Eladar Bring to Admin Console   View Last 10 Posts   View Last 10 House Posts Saturday, May 20, 2006 at 08:46
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There is nothing told of him thinking and then speaking: he speaks, and the world is created. The speaking is the command.

How do you think someone would describe a command?  Would someone write: God thought, let there be light, then said "let there be light".  No, usually it would simply described as the action itself. 

); the regocniition that some verbal utterances are porpper actions, such as when the person that preforms the sermony at a wedding pronunce the couple husband and wife. The utterance of the propper words, at the propper time and by the propper person, makes it true.

What is this theory rooted in?  Is rooted in Christian thought or magic?  It would seem more logical that it is rooted in magic, since there is no such theory in the Bible.

How can any, even God, speak without utter any sound?

Good question.  How could God speak without matter?  Sound does not pass through a vacuum.  Sound requires air though which the waves travel.  Yet God exists before the universe exists and according to the theory you are proposing used sound to create matter.  Seems impossible to me.

Speaking is to make sounds. Comunication withouth sound is either sign-language or writings, but not speach.

True, but since no one was actually there to see or hear. (perhaps God can speak directly from mind to mind, we will never know.

  Ragnelle Bring to Admin Console   View Last 10 Posts   View Last 10 House Posts Saturday, May 20, 2006 at 09:37
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Eladar: The term ’speech act’ (I have now looked up the term) was first used by J.L. Austin and would naturaly not be used in the Bible. The teories around this came mostly after Austin’s death in 1960, and does not really have anything to do with Christianity or magic as such, but more philosophical in nature. It deals mostly with how some acts can only be commited with words, such as promises. But also quite a few religious sermonies are depended on the correct words to be effective.

To give a Christian example: the Communioun. Alt least among the oldest churches, such as the Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches, but also the newer Lutheran churches (I belong to the church of Norway, which is Lutheran), it is the speaking of the propper words, by the propper person (a priest) , that transform the bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ. Withouth the propper words the elements are not transformed and there is no true Communion.

We can also quite easily find examples of the pover of the word in the Bible. The Gospel according to st. John:

"In the begining was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the begining with God. All things were made by him; and withouth him was not any thing made that was made." St. John. 1, 1-3. My emphasis.

And later: "And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us" St. John 1, 14

Combind this with the creationstory in Genisis 1, and you see that the Word is given quite a lot of importance in Christian though. The Word, in st. John, is Christ, who I understand is a rather importaint figure in the Christian faith. This fits with the story in Genisis where God creates by his Word. Whether someone was there or not to hear, is of no consern in the story. Nor is vacum. And as there is already water present, I do not see how there could have been any vacum. The story is a myth, and pressing it into out modern sience, only distorts our understanding of it. The mythological thought expressed in this story is that God creates by speaking, thus also giving a spesial power to the Word. Mythicaly speaking.

But is was about Hindu Myths, not Christian, so we migth better take our discusion of this somewhere else.



Practising Dyslexic.Do not let ortographical digressions interfere with the intentions of this statement.
Eladar 23/May/2006 at 03:02 PM
Foolhardy Ent of Fangorn Points: 1948 Posts: 1306 Joined: 25/Feb/2005

It deals mostly with how some acts can only be commited with words, such as promises. But also quite a few religious sermonies are depended on the correct words to be effective.

What about a deaf congregation?  Could not the same services be given in sign language without a single word being used?

 

Eladar 23/May/2006 at 03:02 PM
Foolhardy Ent of Fangorn Points: 1948 Posts: 1306 Joined: 25/Feb/2005

It deals mostly with how some acts can only be commited with words, such as promises. But also quite a few religious sermonies are depended on the correct words to be effective.

What about a deaf congregation?  Could not the same services be given in sign language without a single word being used?

 

Dunadar 24/May/2006 at 04:49 AM
Horse-groom of the Mark Points: 625 Posts: 113 Joined: 06/Apr/2006

This fits with the story in Genisis where God creates by his Word. Whether someone was there or not to hear, is of no consern in the story. Nor is vacum. And as there is already water present, I do not see how there could have been any vacum

In Christianity the "Word", is a translation for the greek word Logos (I know it by sound only and not spelling so I apologize to those who know how it is spelled correctly) and it was the concept of something that brings order to the Universe. Thus the use of the "Word" doesn’t mean a litteral word. The Word of God is just another name for the Bible. By saying the Word became flesh, the apostle John is saying that the prophecies about the Messiah’s coming were fufilled by Jesus (the bible at the point in time John was writting was still only the Old Testament).

I too see the similarities between YWH (pronounced Yaweh, the God of the Bible) "speaking" the world into existance and Iluvatar speaking of Ea to create the world, but I think we are all taking it to litterally. Neither God’s needed to speak anything to make it happen. Their speech was so the beings around them (YWH created the angels before he created the universe) may understand what was being done, or that something was indeed happening. The question of a vacuum should be irrelevant considering the fact that eventhough the known universe hadn’t been created, both beings are conversing with their host somewhere using some method.Don’t get me wrong words are important, but God doesn’t need to use them to do anything. 

To answer Eldar’s question, sure. Nowhere in the Bible does it (to my knowledge of the Bible) say how comunion should be administered. As long as the message remains the same (a symbol of the sacrifice of Jesus for our salvation) I don’t see any problem with giving it in sign-language or any language (it was first given in Aramaic). 

Dunadar 24/May/2006 at 04:49 AM
Horse-groom of the Mark Points: 625 Posts: 113 Joined: 06/Apr/2006

This fits with the story in Genisis where God creates by his Word. Whether someone was there or not to hear, is of no consern in the story. Nor is vacum. And as there is already water present, I do not see how there could have been any vacum

In Christianity the "Word", is a translation for the greek word Logos (I know it by sound only and not spelling so I apologize to those who know how it is spelled correctly) and it was the concept of something that brings order to the Universe. Thus the use of the "Word" doesn’t mean a litteral word. The Word of God is just another name for the Bible. By saying the Word became flesh, the apostle John is saying that the prophecies about the Messiah’s coming were fufilled by Jesus (the bible at the point in time John was writting was still only the Old Testament).

I too see the similarities between YWH (pronounced Yaweh, the God of the Bible) "speaking" the world into existance and Iluvatar speaking of Ea to create the world, but I think we are all taking it to litterally. Neither God’s needed to speak anything to make it happen. Their speech was so the beings around them (YWH created the angels before he created the universe) may understand what was being done, or that something was indeed happening. The question of a vacuum should be irrelevant considering the fact that eventhough the known universe hadn’t been created, both beings are conversing with their host somewhere using some method.Don’t get me wrong words are important, but God doesn’t need to use them to do anything. 

To answer Eldar’s question, sure. Nowhere in the Bible does it (to my knowledge of the Bible) say how comunion should be administered. As long as the message remains the same (a symbol of the sacrifice of Jesus for our salvation) I don’t see any problem with giving it in sign-language or any language (it was first given in Aramaic). 

Romenna 26/May/2006 at 08:35 AM
Defender of Imladris Points: 838 Posts: 360 Joined: 13/May/2004
Ragnelle’s mention of Austin is interesting. He did work on what he called ’performative utterances’ by which he means that by saying something (eg, I promise to be htere by 3 or ’I Do’) you are not merely uttering sounds but are actually doing something, in the above cases, promising, or giving yourself in marriage. In this respect, the words used at the creation could be seen as performative utterances for rather than merely being sounds, they were actually performing an act, creating.
Romenna 26/May/2006 at 08:35 AM
Defender of Imladris Points: 838 Posts: 360 Joined: 13/May/2004
Ragnelle’s mention of Austin is interesting. He did work on what he called ’performative utterances’ by which he means that by saying something (eg, I promise to be htere by 3 or ’I Do’) you are not merely uttering sounds but are actually doing something, in the above cases, promising, or giving yourself in marriage. In this respect, the words used at the creation could be seen as performative utterances for rather than merely being sounds, they were actually performing an act, creating.
Eladar 26/May/2006 at 09:17 AM
Foolhardy Ent of Fangorn Points: 1948 Posts: 1306 Joined: 25/Feb/2005

. In this respect, the words used at the creation could be seen as performative utterances for rather than merely being sounds, they were actually performing an act, creating.

My point is that what Austin is dealing with is communication.  A wedding ceremony is a perfect real world example.  If two deaf people get married, is their communiction using hands any less valid in communicating and creating at the same time?

Eladar 26/May/2006 at 09:17 AM
Foolhardy Ent of Fangorn Points: 1948 Posts: 1306 Joined: 25/Feb/2005

. In this respect, the words used at the creation could be seen as performative utterances for rather than merely being sounds, they were actually performing an act, creating.

My point is that what Austin is dealing with is communication.  A wedding ceremony is a perfect real world example.  If two deaf people get married, is their communiction using hands any less valid in communicating and creating at the same time?

Ragnelle 31/May/2006 at 12:36 PM
Guard of the Mark Points: 2850 Posts: 4765 Joined: 11/Sep/2002

Dunadar: While ’logos’ is the word used in the Gospel of st. John, it is not used originaly in Genisis, as that was writen in Hebrew. And I am not sure if our persetion really fits the original meanings. What I mean is that what we see as separated consepts, was not nesseraly separated some 2000 years, or more, ago. The creation-story of the Genisis is a myth and speaks in mythological terms. St. John might have been a bit closer to our way of thinking, but he is still quite distant in time, and the pasage about the Word is partly mythical too. There is no ’litteral’ way of seing these pasages, but neither is it merely ’symbolic’. Myths uses symbols - images - but the image can not be separated from the truth they tell about without loosing that truth.

Anyway, if you look at the Cassirer -quote given in my first post, my position might be clearer. The importance accorded to the Word as a primary force, is not unique to the Christian faith, but something common in most mythologies. The story in the first chaper of Genisis falls into this same pattern; the Word being the primary force "in which all being and doing originate" (Ernst Cassirer: Language and Myth, Word Magic) St. John identifying Jesus Christ with this primary force, this origin of all things, places Christianity in that same mode of tought.

"The Word of God" is used as a name for the Bible, true, but not in the Bible itself, as far as I can recall, and yes, we can read st. John as reffering to the prophecies as well, but the wording so closely resemble Genisis 1 that I think it was deliberate. We are meant to make the conection between the Word and God’s creation.

Eladar: Yes, Austin is dealing with comunication, and he would probably include sign-language. But Genisis would not, nor would st. John. As I have said earlier in this post, we are dealing with a mythological way of thinking, and a time in wihch, sadly, the deaf were tought to be stupid and were disregarded. There were no sign-language and all words were sounds. Reading was normaly done outloud, even private reading. So was prayer. Therfore I do not think there would be any seperation of sound and meaning in the minds of the people of that time, or of sound and comunication. In our reading and understanding of these texts, I think we need to keep this in mind, or we will not fully understand them.

As for reiligous sermonies... Modern churches, most in the reformed or protestant churches in the tradition of Calvin or Luther but not only there, does not allways regard the liturigy very highly, cutting it to a minimum. Many also have sevices in sign-language, and they serve well. But in the early church the litrugy was the official teology, as it still is regared in the orthodox churches (unless I am mistaken). The Nicean Creed had to be sung after it was desided upon in order to be official and valid. The collective singing of the church-meeting was the verification, not the desition made before the singing.

Baelmyrrdn: Thank you for creating this tread for us.

And to keep the conection to Tolkien:  In On Fairy-stories talks about Fantasy as a suc-creative art, and writes: "In human art Fantasy is a thing best left to words, to true literature."

Though he speaks of books - writings - I do not think that he is only thinking of the writen word without regard of the sounds of the words - he is too skilled with language. So words carry the sub-crative powers if man in a greater degree than other art-forms, just as the Word was the primary force of creation in his own faith.

Ragnelle 31/May/2006 at 12:36 PM
Guard of the Mark Points: 2850 Posts: 4765 Joined: 11/Sep/2002

Dunadar: While ’logos’ is the word used in the Gospel of st. John, it is not used originaly in Genisis, as that was writen in Hebrew. And I am not sure if our persetion really fits the original meanings. What I mean is that what we see as separated consepts, was not nesseraly separated some 2000 years, or more, ago. The creation-story of the Genisis is a myth and speaks in mythological terms. St. John might have been a bit closer to our way of thinking, but he is still quite distant in time, and the pasage about the Word is partly mythical too. There is no ’litteral’ way of seing these pasages, but neither is it merely ’symbolic’. Myths uses symbols - images - but the image can not be separated from the truth they tell about without loosing that truth.

Anyway, if you look at the Cassirer -quote given in my first post, my position might be clearer. The importance accorded to the Word as a primary force, is not unique to the Christian faith, but something common in most mythologies. The story in the first chaper of Genisis falls into this same pattern; the Word being the primary force "in which all being and doing originate" (Ernst Cassirer: Language and Myth, Word Magic) St. John identifying Jesus Christ with this primary force, this origin of all things, places Christianity in that same mode of tought.

"The Word of God" is used as a name for the Bible, true, but not in the Bible itself, as far as I can recall, and yes, we can read st. John as reffering to the prophecies as well, but the wording so closely resemble Genisis 1 that I think it was deliberate. We are meant to make the conection between the Word and God’s creation.

Eladar: Yes, Austin is dealing with comunication, and he would probably include sign-language. But Genisis would not, nor would st. John. As I have said earlier in this post, we are dealing with a mythological way of thinking, and a time in wihch, sadly, the deaf were tought to be stupid and were disregarded. There were no sign-language and all words were sounds. Reading was normaly done outloud, even private reading. So was prayer. Therfore I do not think there would be any seperation of sound and meaning in the minds of the people of that time, or of sound and comunication. In our reading and understanding of these texts, I think we need to keep this in mind, or we will not fully understand them.

As for reiligous sermonies... Modern churches, most in the reformed or protestant churches in the tradition of Calvin or Luther but not only there, does not allways regard the liturigy very highly, cutting it to a minimum. Many also have sevices in sign-language, and they serve well. But in the early church the litrugy was the official teology, as it still is regared in the orthodox churches (unless I am mistaken). The Nicean Creed had to be sung after it was desided upon in order to be official and valid. The collective singing of the church-meeting was the verification, not the desition made before the singing.

Baelmyrrdn: Thank you for creating this tread for us.

And to keep the conection to Tolkien:  In On Fairy-stories talks about Fantasy as a suc-creative art, and writes: "In human art Fantasy is a thing best left to words, to true literature."

Though he speaks of books - writings - I do not think that he is only thinking of the writen word without regard of the sounds of the words - he is too skilled with language. So words carry the sub-crative powers if man in a greater degree than other art-forms, just as the Word was the primary force of creation in his own faith.

Light of Arnor 31/May/2006 at 02:08 PM
Huorn of Fangorn Points: 532 Posts: 77 Joined: 10/Mar/2005
Eladar-- I thought it should be clarified for those that read the rest of this very interesting thread...

But the singing did not create Ea. The singing foretold what would happen and how things would come about, but it only told the story. It was Eru’s command, "Let if Be".   Everything coming into existance based on God’s command is pretty much lifted directly from Genesis.

Based on what the Ainulindale tells us, this is not quite the case. Eru did say "Let it Be", but this was not the sum result of the Themes being created. This simply created a foundation of Ea, with the Flame Imperishable.

But when the Valar entered into Ea they were at first astounded and at a loss, for it was as if naught was yet made which they had seen in the vision, and all was but on point to begin and yet unshaped, and it was dark [...] So began their great labours in wastes unmeasured and unexplored, and in ages uncounted and forgotten, until in the Deeps of Time and in the midst of the vast halls of Ea there came to be that hour and that place where was made the habitation of the Children of Iluvatar.

This is a key distinction from Genesis. In Genesis, God creates all solely, entirely. In Tolkien’s mythos, Eru directs the Themes, which create the blueprint, then sends his Holy Ones to Ea to actually create what the (blueprint) Themes designed. The actual act of creation was given to the Valar and they were set to task. As the quote mentions, it took "ages uncounted and forgotten".


LoA
Light of Arnor 31/May/2006 at 02:08 PM
Huorn of Fangorn Points: 532 Posts: 77 Joined: 10/Mar/2005
Eladar-- I thought it should be clarified for those that read the rest of this very interesting thread...

But the singing did not create Ea. The singing foretold what would happen and how things would come about, but it only told the story. It was Eru’s command, "Let if Be".   Everything coming into existance based on God’s command is pretty much lifted directly from Genesis.

Based on what the Ainulindale tells us, this is not quite the case. Eru did say "Let it Be", but this was not the sum result of the Themes being created. This simply created a foundation of Ea, with the Flame Imperishable.

But when the Valar entered into Ea they were at first astounded and at a loss, for it was as if naught was yet made which they had seen in the vision, and all was but on point to begin and yet unshaped, and it was dark [...] So began their great labours in wastes unmeasured and unexplored, and in ages uncounted and forgotten, until in the Deeps of Time and in the midst of the vast halls of Ea there came to be that hour and that place where was made the habitation of the Children of Iluvatar.

This is a key distinction from Genesis. In Genesis, God creates all solely, entirely. In Tolkien’s mythos, Eru directs the Themes, which create the blueprint, then sends his Holy Ones to Ea to actually create what the (blueprint) Themes designed. The actual act of creation was given to the Valar and they were set to task. As the quote mentions, it took "ages uncounted and forgotten".


LoA
Eladar 31/May/2006 at 04:54 PM
Foolhardy Ent of Fangorn Points: 1948 Posts: 1306 Joined: 25/Feb/2005

Ragnelle,

Eladar: Yes, Austin is dealing with comunication, and he would probably include sign-language.

If this is the case, then I’d say he is making something out of nothing.  The message of Creation is that what God commanded happened and that God created everything.  The most common way to demonstrate that God created everything is to have God ’say’ something then it happen. 

To say then that God couldn’t have simply thought it or wanted it to happen wouldn’t work and that he had to say it is simply a wild guess.  I suppose it could be correct, but there is nothing to base it uon and there is nothing to argue against it.

The Nicean Creed had to be sung after it was desided upon in order to be official and valid. The collective singing of the church-meeting was the verification, not the desition made before the

Once again there is nothing to debate or even discuss here, at least not for me.  I am a Christian and view saying vs. singing as absolutely irrelevant.

 

Light of Arnor,

The extent to which the creation of the universe relied upon the Valar changed over time.  One example of this change is that the stars in general were not created by Varda.  Varda only created the great stars.  One of her names had to be changed accordingly.

Eladar 31/May/2006 at 04:54 PM
Foolhardy Ent of Fangorn Points: 1948 Posts: 1306 Joined: 25/Feb/2005

Ragnelle,

Eladar: Yes, Austin is dealing with comunication, and he would probably include sign-language.

If this is the case, then I’d say he is making something out of nothing.  The message of Creation is that what God commanded happened and that God created everything.  The most common way to demonstrate that God created everything is to have God ’say’ something then it happen. 

To say then that God couldn’t have simply thought it or wanted it to happen wouldn’t work and that he had to say it is simply a wild guess.  I suppose it could be correct, but there is nothing to base it uon and there is nothing to argue against it.

The Nicean Creed had to be sung after it was desided upon in order to be official and valid. The collective singing of the church-meeting was the verification, not the desition made before the

Once again there is nothing to debate or even discuss here, at least not for me.  I am a Christian and view saying vs. singing as absolutely irrelevant.

 

Light of Arnor,

The extent to which the creation of the universe relied upon the Valar changed over time.  One example of this change is that the stars in general were not created by Varda.  Varda only created the great stars.  One of her names had to be changed accordingly.

Ragnelle 31/May/2006 at 10:12 PM
Guard of the Mark Points: 2850 Posts: 4765 Joined: 11/Sep/2002

Eladar: To me you seem to dismiss what you do not understand, which is probably due to my inadiquate explanation. Autsin is not dealing with any mode of creation, but with how speaking can also be an action. I made the conection with the creation-story from Genisis 1 in which God speaks. That is the story told, and while you can interpetate it the way you do, that interpetation is less potent than the original myth. We think and understand though words, language determin our thinking as we can not think in any other way; can not have any conseptions without words.

No basis for saying that God spoke at the creation? What about Genisis 1? If we are to speculate on the mode of creation in Christian teology, is not the Bible a good basis? What else should we use?

The Church-fathers gathered at Nicea did not think saying and singing was the same, or they would not have needed to sing. Where they not Christian?

Again you seem to dismiss what you do not understand. Our modern way of thinking is not the only possible, nor the way people thought in earlier times. As I have said, the separation between word and sound (as in writing vs speaking, or sign-language vs speaking) is a relativly new consept. Most things were said outloud, including private reading and prayer. They would not have thought about command without speach. And in some ways the result was richer than our modern abstractions.

You seem to me ancious to seperate Chritian though from anything that might be ’magic’ or superstisious. Or maybe that was worngly put. What I mean is  that you seem unwilling to see that Christiantiy is also mythic, and shares mythic conseptions with many other religions and mythologies. The importance given to the Word is one such conseption. We (that is, those of us that are Christian) are bapticed in in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holly Gost.  And Jesus said "And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, I will do it" St. John 14, 14) and that when two or three are gathered in his name, he is present. This insistence on the name is an expression of the thought that the name carries power and speaking the name invoces the deity named. The same mode of thinking leads to a magical view of the world, and is very common in religious and mythical thought. The reason behind the comandment  "You shall not speak God’s name in vain"  is not that you shall respect peoples’ feelings, but that it is dangerous to speak God’s name; it is like playing with fire.

Light of Arnor: Whie you are correct in pointing out that the world is not finished when the Valar enter, I would not say that they created the world. Creation is not the same as shaping, and Tolkien seems to be very clear on the distiction. The Valar’s work might be called sub-creative, at least Aule’s making of the Dwarves would fall into that category, but their consern is with the shaping of Arda, not the creating.

But of couse this shaping by the Valar is something that is different in the Valiquenta. It is not a blueprint of Genisis.

Ragnelle 31/May/2006 at 10:12 PM
Guard of the Mark Points: 2850 Posts: 4765 Joined: 11/Sep/2002

Eladar: To me you seem to dismiss what you do not understand, which is probably due to my inadiquate explanation. Autsin is not dealing with any mode of creation, but with how speaking can also be an action. I made the conection with the creation-story from Genisis 1 in which God speaks. That is the story told, and while you can interpetate it the way you do, that interpetation is less potent than the original myth. We think and understand though words, language determin our thinking as we can not think in any other way; can not have any conseptions without words.

No basis for saying that God spoke at the creation? What about Genisis 1? If we are to speculate on the mode of creation in Christian teology, is not the Bible a good basis? What else should we use?

The Church-fathers gathered at Nicea did not think saying and singing was the same, or they would not have needed to sing. Where they not Christian?

Again you seem to dismiss what you do not understand. Our modern way of thinking is not the only possible, nor the way people thought in earlier times. As I have said, the separation between word and sound (as in writing vs speaking, or sign-language vs speaking) is a relativly new consept. Most things were said outloud, including private reading and prayer. They would not have thought about command without speach. And in some ways the result was richer than our modern abstractions.

You seem to me ancious to seperate Chritian though from anything that might be ’magic’ or superstisious. Or maybe that was worngly put. What I mean is  that you seem unwilling to see that Christiantiy is also mythic, and shares mythic conseptions with many other religions and mythologies. The importance given to the Word is one such conseption. We (that is, those of us that are Christian) are bapticed in in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holly Gost.  And Jesus said "And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, I will do it" St. John 14, 14) and that when two or three are gathered in his name, he is present. This insistence on the name is an expression of the thought that the name carries power and speaking the name invoces the deity named. The same mode of thinking leads to a magical view of the world, and is very common in religious and mythical thought. The reason behind the comandment  "You shall not speak God’s name in vain"  is not that you shall respect peoples’ feelings, but that it is dangerous to speak God’s name; it is like playing with fire.

Light of Arnor: Whie you are correct in pointing out that the world is not finished when the Valar enter, I would not say that they created the world. Creation is not the same as shaping, and Tolkien seems to be very clear on the distiction. The Valar’s work might be called sub-creative, at least Aule’s making of the Dwarves would fall into that category, but their consern is with the shaping of Arda, not the creating.

But of couse this shaping by the Valar is something that is different in the Valiquenta. It is not a blueprint of Genisis.

Dunadar 01/Jun/2006 at 01:13 AM
Horse-groom of the Mark Points: 625 Posts: 113 Joined: 06/Apr/2006

Ragnelle  Genesis 1:1 states "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." It mentions nothing about the necessity of him speaking it into being. In fact God wouldn’t be God if he had to speak for anything to happen. If one of our definitions for God (any God) is that he has to be omnipotent, then he wouldn’t need to speak for things to happen. Of course God spoke because saying that God couldn’t have brings us right back to him not being omnipotent, but what I’m trying to say is that there was nor real importance in the words. God used words to let his host around them (and us later) know what he was doing but he didn’t have to if he didn’t want to.

The only "Word" that has importance in the bible is one that John uses to indentify Jesus and that is because John was trying to point out that Jesus was the one who brough order to the world and he was the "Logos". Christianity is different than mythology in a number of different ways and I won’t bother listing all of them now but one key difference between them is that in Mythology the "Logos" is a word or concept that keeps the universe in balance whereas in Christianity it is a person. The apostle John was appealing not putting the importance in words but rather this concept of the thing that brings order to the universe.

I would indeed seperate Christianity from other mythology and other religions because it wasn’t written to be mythological and religion is man’s attempt to get to God while Christianity is God coming down to man. Whatever anyone might say the Bible was written to be interpreted as fact. It also reads completely different then the stories about the Greek Gods. The Old Testament is basically a historical account of Israel and the Jewish people which is backed up by several other sources. The New Testament is a historical account of the life of Jesus followed by an account of his apostles. Also being a christian myself I would not classify Christianity as Mythology but rather fact. Also since I believe the Bible to be true that means I also believe that it has been around for a long time and the accounts are true from the beginning. Then in my view Christianity didn’t borrow anything from any Mythology. There are similarities but that doesn’t mean that someone along the line liked the idea from another religion and decided to incorporate it into Christianity.

This are just my own thoughts and beliefs on the matter. I also think that the same can be said for Eru, he said Ea but he didn’t need to in order to make Arda.

Dunadar 01/Jun/2006 at 01:13 AM
Horse-groom of the Mark Points: 625 Posts: 113 Joined: 06/Apr/2006

Ragnelle  Genesis 1:1 states "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." It mentions nothing about the necessity of him speaking it into being. In fact God wouldn’t be God if he had to speak for anything to happen. If one of our definitions for God (any God) is that he has to be omnipotent, then he wouldn’t need to speak for things to happen. Of course God spoke because saying that God couldn’t have brings us right back to him not being omnipotent, but what I’m trying to say is that there was nor real importance in the words. God used words to let his host around them (and us later) know what he was doing but he didn’t have to if he didn’t want to.

The only "Word" that has importance in the bible is one that John uses to indentify Jesus and that is because John was trying to point out that Jesus was the one who brough order to the world and he was the "Logos". Christianity is different than mythology in a number of different ways and I won’t bother listing all of them now but one key difference between them is that in Mythology the "Logos" is a word or concept that keeps the universe in balance whereas in Christianity it is a person. The apostle John was appealing not putting the importance in words but rather this concept of the thing that brings order to the universe.

I would indeed seperate Christianity from other mythology and other religions because it wasn’t written to be mythological and religion is man’s attempt to get to God while Christianity is God coming down to man. Whatever anyone might say the Bible was written to be interpreted as fact. It also reads completely different then the stories about the Greek Gods. The Old Testament is basically a historical account of Israel and the Jewish people which is backed up by several other sources. The New Testament is a historical account of the life of Jesus followed by an account of his apostles. Also being a christian myself I would not classify Christianity as Mythology but rather fact. Also since I believe the Bible to be true that means I also believe that it has been around for a long time and the accounts are true from the beginning. Then in my view Christianity didn’t borrow anything from any Mythology. There are similarities but that doesn’t mean that someone along the line liked the idea from another religion and decided to incorporate it into Christianity.

This are just my own thoughts and beliefs on the matter. I also think that the same can be said for Eru, he said Ea but he didn’t need to in order to make Arda.

Eladar 01/Jun/2006 at 08:34 AM
Foolhardy Ent of Fangorn Points: 1948 Posts: 1306 Joined: 25/Feb/2005

Eladar: To me you seem to dismiss what you do not understand

I believe I have a handle of what you are saying.  I just reject it as plain silly.

No basis for saying that God spoke at the creation? What about Genisis 1?

Dunadar has explained things better than I can. 

The Church-fathers gathered at Nicea did not think saying and singing was the same, or they would not have needed to sing. Where they not Christian?

Yes, they were Christian, but they were not infallable.  If they really believed that it had to be sung, rather than simply said, then they were wrong.  Perhaps they were influenced by the pagan cultures of the time and believed in magic.  In magic one must get the incantation right.  It is also possible that they were making a power play and were simply getting people to follow exactly as they said simply because they said it.  It was a way to keep people in their place.  After all, the Nicean Creed was a reaction to false teachings.

Again you seem to dismiss what you do not understand. Our modern way of thinking is not the only possible, nor the way people thought in earlier times.

As I said, people may have been influenced by false pagan beliefs.  This does not give validity to the false belief, but points to the fact that they held false beliefs.  When I say they, I mean a certain group of people, Chrstians have never been a monolithic group.

Eladar 01/Jun/2006 at 08:34 AM
Foolhardy Ent of Fangorn Points: 1948 Posts: 1306 Joined: 25/Feb/2005

Eladar: To me you seem to dismiss what you do not understand

I believe I have a handle of what you are saying.  I just reject it as plain silly.

No basis for saying that God spoke at the creation? What about Genisis 1?

Dunadar has explained things better than I can. 

The Church-fathers gathered at Nicea did not think saying and singing was the same, or they would not have needed to sing. Where they not Christian?

Yes, they were Christian, but they were not infallable.  If they really believed that it had to be sung, rather than simply said, then they were wrong.  Perhaps they were influenced by the pagan cultures of the time and believed in magic.  In magic one must get the incantation right.  It is also possible that they were making a power play and were simply getting people to follow exactly as they said simply because they said it.  It was a way to keep people in their place.  After all, the Nicean Creed was a reaction to false teachings.

Again you seem to dismiss what you do not understand. Our modern way of thinking is not the only possible, nor the way people thought in earlier times.

As I said, people may have been influenced by false pagan beliefs.  This does not give validity to the false belief, but points to the fact that they held false beliefs.  When I say they, I mean a certain group of people, Chrstians have never been a monolithic group.

Ragnelle 01/Jun/2006 at 09:15 AM
Guard of the Mark Points: 2850 Posts: 4765 Joined: 11/Sep/2002

Dunadar: Let me quote the begining og the Genisis story:

"In the begining God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light, and there was light." Gen 1, 1-3, my bold emphasis.

And it continues the same way. God speaks, and the there is. There is not need, indeed I find it to be beside the point, to argue that God could have, because he is omnipotent. It is told that he did it this way, by speaking. Reading the whole story, the ever reoccuring sentence is "And God said, Let it be, and it was". He uses words to create and order the universe. Looking only at the first verse is to ignore the story that is actually told. Saying he could have is to ignore the story as it is told, and does not tell us anything about the Christian conseption of the creation. St. John identifying the Word, Logos, with Christ, emphisize the importance given to the Word in Christian though.

I do not deny that there are differences between Christian religion and other religions and mythologies, but there are simularities as well. Would you say the story in Genisis 1 is to be taken as a historical fact? Or the second creation story in Genisis 2, which give a different chronology  having Man be created before the animals, whereas Genisis 1 have Man as the last creature being made? If you try read those as histroical facts, you will end up in promblens my friend, for while God may be omnipotent, that does not mean that He can do the self-contraditiaray.

I never said that Chritianity nesseraly borrowed anything from anything. But still is shares consepts with other belifs. Christianity is not more or less true (the truth of the matter is a matter of belif) for sharing these consepts, but I do think that to deny any simularity is to deny the omnipotency you set such store on. To use Tolkien’s words on a simular matter:

"But in the ’eucatastrophie’ we see in a brief vision that the answer may be greater - it may be a far-off gleam or echo of evangelium in the real world. (...)

I would venture to say that approaching the Christian Story from this direction, it has long been my feeling (a joyous feeling) that God redeemed the corrupt making-creatures, men, in a way fitting to this aspect, as to others, of their strange nature. The Gospels contain a fairy-story, or a stroy of a larger kin which embrces all the essence of fary-stroies. They contain many marvels - perticularly artistic, beautiful, and moving: ’mythicl’ in their perfect, self-contained significance; and among the marvels is the greatest and most compleate conceivable eucatastrophe. But this stroy has entered History and the primary world; the desire and aspiration of sub-creation has been raised to the fulfilment of Creation. (...)

It is not difficult to imagine the peculiar excitement and joy that one would feel, if any specially beautiful fairy-story were found to be ’primarily’ tru, its narrative to be history, without thereby neccessarily losing the mythical or allegorical significance that it possesd. it is not difficult, for one is not called upon to try and conceive anything of a quality unknown. The joy would have exactly the same quality, if not the same degree, as the joy which the ’turn’ in a fairy-story gives: such joy has the very tase of primary truth. (Otherwise its name would not be joy.) it looks forward (or backward: the direction in this regard is unimportaint) to the Great Eucatastrophe. The Christian joy, the Gloria, is of the same kind; but it is pre-eminently (infinitely, if out capacity were not finite) high and joyous. Becase this story is supreme, and it is true. art has been verified. God is Lord, of angels, and of men - and of elves. Legend and History have met and fused.

(..) The Evangelium has not abrogated legends; it has hallowed them," On Fairy-stories, Epilouge

I have abriged to quote (marked with (...)) or it would have been even longer *g*

You see, common consepts does not have to mean that one is borrowed from another, nor does it have to be untrue if it is borrowed. Do we cut the Genisis story because we know it is very simular to a Babylonian story (and that it was writen in Babylon)? Or the stroy of the Flood because a simular story is told in the Epic of  Gilgamesh? Or the story of the Incarnation because there are many stories of gods having children - or even incarnating in a simular manner (Vishnu in the Hidu faith have several incarnations, the best know is probably Rama and Khrishna)? Or the Resurection because it is simular to so many stories of dying and resurected fertility gods? C.S. Lewis called the Gospels a "true myth", something he learned from Tolkien. If God is omnipotent, could he not have made a myth come true?

As for Eru speaking: he must do what Tolkien makes him do , but my reaction is the same as to the Genisis 1 stroy: what he could have is not really interesting. What he did seem to me far more improtaint, at the very least for our understanding of the story. And he speaks.

Ragnelle 01/Jun/2006 at 09:15 AM
Guard of the Mark Points: 2850 Posts: 4765 Joined: 11/Sep/2002

Dunadar: Let me quote the begining og the Genisis story:

"In the begining God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light, and there was light." Gen 1, 1-3, my bold emphasis.

And it continues the same way. God speaks, and the there is. There is not need, indeed I find it to be beside the point, to argue that God could have, because he is omnipotent. It is told that he did it this way, by speaking. Reading the whole story, the ever reoccuring sentence is "And God said, Let it be, and it was". He uses words to create and order the universe. Looking only at the first verse is to ignore the story that is actually told. Saying he could have is to ignore the story as it is told, and does not tell us anything about the Christian conseption of the creation. St. John identifying the Word, Logos, with Christ, emphisize the importance given to the Word in Christian though.

I do not deny that there are differences between Christian religion and other religions and mythologies, but there are simularities as well. Would you say the story in Genisis 1 is to be taken as a historical fact? Or the second creation story in Genisis 2, which give a different chronology  having Man be created before the animals, whereas Genisis 1 have Man as the last creature being made? If you try read those as histroical facts, you will end up in promblens my friend, for while God may be omnipotent, that does not mean that He can do the self-contraditiaray.

I never said that Chritianity nesseraly borrowed anything from anything. But still is shares consepts with other belifs. Christianity is not more or less true (the truth of the matter is a matter of belif) for sharing these consepts, but I do think that to deny any simularity is to deny the omnipotency you set such store on. To use Tolkien’s words on a simular matter:

"But in the ’eucatastrophie’ we see in a brief vision that the answer may be greater - it may be a far-off gleam or echo of evangelium in the real world. (...)

I would venture to say that approaching the Christian Story from this direction, it has long been my feeling (a joyous feeling) that God redeemed the corrupt making-creatures, men, in a way fitting to this aspect, as to others, of their strange nature. The Gospels contain a fairy-story, or a stroy of a larger kin which embrces all the essence of fary-stroies. They contain many marvels - perticularly artistic, beautiful, and moving: ’mythicl’ in their perfect, self-contained significance; and among the marvels is the greatest and most compleate conceivable eucatastrophe. But this stroy has entered History and the primary world; the desire and aspiration of sub-creation has been raised to the fulfilment of Creation. (...)

It is not difficult to imagine the peculiar excitement and joy that one would feel, if any specially beautiful fairy-story were found to be ’primarily’ tru, its narrative to be history, without thereby neccessarily losing the mythical or allegorical significance that it possesd. it is not difficult, for one is not called upon to try and conceive anything of a quality unknown. The joy would have exactly the same quality, if not the same degree, as the joy which the ’turn’ in a fairy-story gives: such joy has the very tase of primary truth. (Otherwise its name would not be joy.) it looks forward (or backward: the direction in this regard is unimportaint) to the Great Eucatastrophe. The Christian joy, the Gloria, is of the same kind; but it is pre-eminently (infinitely, if out capacity were not finite) high and joyous. Becase this story is supreme, and it is true. art has been verified. God is Lord, of angels, and of men - and of elves. Legend and History have met and fused.

(..) The Evangelium has not abrogated legends; it has hallowed them," On Fairy-stories, Epilouge

I have abriged to quote (marked with (...)) or it would have been even longer *g*

You see, common consepts does not have to mean that one is borrowed from another, nor does it have to be untrue if it is borrowed. Do we cut the Genisis story because we know it is very simular to a Babylonian story (and that it was writen in Babylon)? Or the stroy of the Flood because a simular story is told in the Epic of  Gilgamesh? Or the story of the Incarnation because there are many stories of gods having children - or even incarnating in a simular manner (Vishnu in the Hidu faith have several incarnations, the best know is probably Rama and Khrishna)? Or the Resurection because it is simular to so many stories of dying and resurected fertility gods? C.S. Lewis called the Gospels a "true myth", something he learned from Tolkien. If God is omnipotent, could he not have made a myth come true?

As for Eru speaking: he must do what Tolkien makes him do , but my reaction is the same as to the Genisis 1 stroy: what he could have is not really interesting. What he did seem to me far more improtaint, at the very least for our understanding of the story. And he speaks.

Ragnelle 01/Jun/2006 at 09:17 AM
Guard of the Mark Points: 2850 Posts: 4765 Joined: 11/Sep/2002

Eladar. I did not see your reply. I will answer when I have more time.

Ragnelle 01/Jun/2006 at 09:17 AM
Guard of the Mark Points: 2850 Posts: 4765 Joined: 11/Sep/2002

Eladar. I did not see your reply. I will answer when I have more time.

Gerontian 01/Jun/2006 at 08:08 PM
March Warden of the Shire Points: 5533 Posts: 3986 Joined: 27/Aug/2002

This discussion fascinates me.  It puts me in mind of the philosophy of Immanuel Kant, mostly as a way of dispelling confusion about what words can and cannot do, and how to get out of the cul de sac this discussion is heading towards.  Kant’s Critical Philosophy is extremely difficult for me to discuss off the top of my head, but I will try my best. 

Kant believed that the necessary conditions for human knowledge are impossible to explain unless we regard them as rooted in the human mind,  itself.  The human mind cannot intuit or conceptualize beyond certain limits.  He does not exclude belief in God, but demonstrates how our direct knowledge of God is an impossibility.  To be blunt, (and simplistic) our minds do not have the necessary hardware needed to run divine software.  What the mind possesses are specific categories of intuition and conceptualization that define the limits of what we can and cannot know.  We cannot know or understand God directly, and must use words in order to conceptualize him, or conceptualize about him.  Likewise, we cannot know or apprehend the original act of creation, and so we use words to describe it.  We cannot know or apprehend how God functions, and so we must use words so that we may understand him.

 

After writing this statement, I Googled up an interesting article entitled Studying Religion— Kantian Style by Stephen Palmquist.  I would like to share some passages out of it which articulate what I am trying to say much better than I can.

 

“The problem for anyone who wishes to use a theoretical approach to study religion is that the primary object of religion, God, cannot be given to us in intuition. Or at least, if God were to appear to us in all His glory, that experience would be so overwhelming that we would be unable to form any concept out of our intuitions. Therefore, although theologians can form the concept of God, and mystics might be able to intuit God, nobody can combine such intuitions and concepts in a single experience to produce objectively valid knowledge of God.”

 

The only way we can imagine God’s actions, whether in Genesis or in Tolkien, is by using our own actions as templates.  Speech, as already pointed out, is an action.  We are constrained to imagine God speaking, for how else are we to think about Him acting except in ways that we already know and understand?  To speculate on more than we can know or understand (or intuit) does not lead to further knowledge or understanding (nor better intuitions).  As a metaphor for a creative action, a word is a marvelous vehicle for understanding.  We intuitively understand the act of creation every  time we speak or utter a new word. 

 

I think Tolkien understood all of this brilliantly, although whether or not he read Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason, or Kant’s numerous works dealing with religion, I have no idea.  I think he understood how our minds work, and wrote his acts of sub-creation accordingly.  We can only imagine the mind of God when we imagine the words along with it.

Gerontian 01/Jun/2006 at 08:08 PM
March Warden of the Shire Points: 5533 Posts: 3986 Joined: 27/Aug/2002

This discussion fascinates me.  It puts me in mind of the philosophy of Immanuel Kant, mostly as a way of dispelling confusion about what words can and cannot do, and how to get out of the cul de sac this discussion is heading towards.  Kant’s Critical Philosophy is extremely difficult for me to discuss off the top of my head, but I will try my best. 

Kant believed that the necessary conditions for human knowledge are impossible to explain unless we regard them as rooted in the human mind,  itself.  The human mind cannot intuit or conceptualize beyond certain limits.  He does not exclude belief in God, but demonstrates how our direct knowledge of God is an impossibility.  To be blunt, (and simplistic) our minds do not have the necessary hardware needed to run divine software.  What the mind possesses are specific categories of intuition and conceptualization that define the limits of what we can and cannot know.  We cannot know or understand God directly, and must use words in order to conceptualize him, or conceptualize about him.  Likewise, we cannot know or apprehend the original act of creation, and so we use words to describe it.  We cannot know or apprehend how God functions, and so we must use words so that we may understand him.

 

After writing this statement, I Googled up an interesting article entitled Studying Religion— Kantian Style by Stephen Palmquist.  I would like to share some passages out of it which articulate what I am trying to say much better than I can.

 

“The problem for anyone who wishes to use a theoretical approach to study religion is that the primary object of religion, God, cannot be given to us in intuition. Or at least, if God were to appear to us in all His glory, that experience would be so overwhelming that we would be unable to form any concept out of our intuitions. Therefore, although theologians can form the concept of God, and mystics might be able to intuit God, nobody can combine such intuitions and concepts in a single experience to produce objectively valid knowledge of God.”

 

The only way we can imagine God’s actions, whether in Genesis or in Tolkien, is by using our own actions as templates.  Speech, as already pointed out, is an action.  We are constrained to imagine God speaking, for how else are we to think about Him acting except in ways that we already know and understand?  To speculate on more than we can know or understand (or intuit) does not lead to further knowledge or understanding (nor better intuitions).  As a metaphor for a creative action, a word is a marvelous vehicle for understanding.  We intuitively understand the act of creation every  time we speak or utter a new word. 

 

I think Tolkien understood all of this brilliantly, although whether or not he read Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason, or Kant’s numerous works dealing with religion, I have no idea.  I think he understood how our minds work, and wrote his acts of sub-creation accordingly.  We can only imagine the mind of God when we imagine the words along with it.

Ragnelle 02/Jun/2006 at 08:50 AM
Guard of the Mark Points: 2850 Posts: 4765 Joined: 11/Sep/2002
Gerontian:  RL don’t permit me to contribute much until after the week-end, but your conetion to Kant is very timely. And most perceptive since Ernst Cassirer, whom I quotet in the first post and whose book Language and Myth has influenced my thinking a lot - builds on Kant.
Ragnelle 02/Jun/2006 at 08:50 AM
Guard of the Mark Points: 2850 Posts: 4765 Joined: 11/Sep/2002
Gerontian:  RL don’t permit me to contribute much until after the week-end, but your conetion to Kant is very timely. And most perceptive since Ernst Cassirer, whom I quotet in the first post and whose book Language and Myth has influenced my thinking a lot - builds on Kant.
Light of Arnor 02/Jun/2006 at 01:01 PM
Huorn of Fangorn Points: 532 Posts: 77 Joined: 10/Mar/2005

Ragnelle -- I would argue against the distinction between what the Valar "shaped" Middle-earth into and what the Theme created. I do understand Tolkien’s views on Creative vs. Sub-creative, however one cannot logically dismiss the sequence of events. Eru began the Themes with the Valar. The Themes, we know, created Arda’s entire framework. The only aspect that was not Valar specific was the Children. The Valar are sent to Ea and discover that none of the Theme is yet created...and they set to create. Now, you can say that, because the Themes were guided by Eru, that the Valar "shaping" was Sub-creative, but that’s truly semantics with regards to the shaping of Middle-earth, simply because without the Valar, none of Ea would have been created. Eru did not create Ea in it’s entirety. He sent his Holy Ones to do it for him. This is a very distinct diversion from Christian Genesis and takes into account Tolkien’s strong influences in incorporating Norse mythology into his mythos. Forcing the entire shaping of Middle-earth into a Sub-creative category in the manner we are discussing implies that Eru was present to guide them while it was being shaped. This is not how the story was told. We are told that they created the history of Arda with the Themes...he specifically says HISTORY, not just backdrop/land/terrain. The Themes were the unfolding of Arda’s history..and the Valar were sent to shape the world according to those Themes (history).

However, more to the point of this thread. The Christian God did not send his angels to earth to shape the planet, or it’s history by their own hands. We know there was significant inclusion of Christian ideals in the story, Norse mythos in the story, and a fair number of other "pagan" beliefs. However, there are numerous scholars that have effectively argued that this very incorporation of numerous mythos into an all-encompassing one is one part of Tolkien’s "Theme". I have read some papers arguing how Tolkien created a mythos by which one could trace numerous other mythos backward to a single common theme. The belief was that each branching mythos had elements found from an "originating" theme, and Tolkien desired (secretly? Inadvertantly?) to give us the source of that foundation theme by which all others diverted. Interesting theory, considering the truth of the matter being the opposite.

 

LoA

Light of Arnor 02/Jun/2006 at 01:01 PM
Huorn of Fangorn Points: 532 Posts: 77 Joined: 10/Mar/2005

Ragnelle -- I would argue against the distinction between what the Valar "shaped" Middle-earth into and what the Theme created. I do understand Tolkien’s views on Creative vs. Sub-creative, however one cannot logically dismiss the sequence of events. Eru began the Themes with the Valar. The Themes, we know, created Arda’s entire framework. The only aspect that was not Valar specific was the Children. The Valar are sent to Ea and discover that none of the Theme is yet created...and they set to create. Now, you can say that, because the Themes were guided by Eru, that the Valar "shaping" was Sub-creative, but that’s truly semantics with regards to the shaping of Middle-earth, simply because without the Valar, none of Ea would have been created. Eru did not create Ea in it’s entirety. He sent his Holy Ones to do it for him. This is a very distinct diversion from Christian Genesis and takes into account Tolkien’s strong influences in incorporating Norse mythology into his mythos. Forcing the entire shaping of Middle-earth into a Sub-creative category in the manner we are discussing implies that Eru was present to guide them while it was being shaped. This is not how the story was told. We are told that they created the history of Arda with the Themes...he specifically says HISTORY, not just backdrop/land/terrain. The Themes were the unfolding of Arda’s history..and the Valar were sent to shape the world according to those Themes (history).

However, more to the point of this thread. The Christian God did not send his angels to earth to shape the planet, or it’s history by their own hands. We know there was significant inclusion of Christian ideals in the story, Norse mythos in the story, and a fair number of other "pagan" beliefs. However, there are numerous scholars that have effectively argued that this very incorporation of numerous mythos into an all-encompassing one is one part of Tolkien’s "Theme". I have read some papers arguing how Tolkien created a mythos by which one could trace numerous other mythos backward to a single common theme. The belief was that each branching mythos had elements found from an "originating" theme, and Tolkien desired (secretly? Inadvertantly?) to give us the source of that foundation theme by which all others diverted. Interesting theory, considering the truth of the matter being the opposite.

 

LoA

Dunadar 19/Jun/2006 at 01:03 AM
Horse-groom of the Mark Points: 625 Posts: 113 Joined: 06/Apr/2006

This is very late, and I apologize for waiting so long to post. I too have trouble quoting philosophers off the top of my head Gerontian, but I have to disagree with Kant. Kant published that thought with a comprehensive critique of pure reason as a defense for the existance of God at the end of the 18th century.  Kant released his book because of David Humes critique of causality. Kant saw in Humes’ critique of causality the end of science (which at the time was closely linked with science) and he sought to save christianity from a downfall, so in his critique he basically stated that we must take in the existance of God on faith alone. Sorry to go off topic I just wanted to give a bit more information about why Kant said that since God is infinite and we are finite we can’t have a knowledge of him. If this is true then I’m in a lot of trouble because the apostle Paul said in his letter to the Romans that God reveals himself through nature as well as through Jesus Christ and direct experiences. Then if Kant is right, why Paul must be wrong and the bible must not have been inspired by the Holy Spirit.

I don’t believe that Kant is right though. I must admit that I’m party biased because I believe the bible to be true and want it to be true, but I desire to find truth so I’m not completely biased (if that makes any sense). First of all one problem I have with Kant and Stephen Palmquist is that if they are right, then God ceases to be objective and becomes subjective. In other words he changes depending on our own understanding. A God who changes and is not constant, then would be by defenition not a God. A God is an unchanging being that has to be (he cannot, not exist). In other words if we cannot have any knowledge of God then a person who doesn’t believe in God has an excuse saying, "Well you didn’t present yourself to everyone just the people who already believed you were real, so I didn’t know" If God is a just God then he wouldn’t leave that loophole for people exploit. That leads into the second reason that I disagree with Kant. The aposlte Paul said that God presents himself trough nature, so that everyone might know that there is a God. If you want me to quote the passage please let me know, it can be found in Romans chapter 1 verse 20. I believe that eventhough we may not be able to have a compelete comprehensive knowledge of God, he has presented himself enough so that we may have a universal knoweldge of him and not just a subjective one.

 I must confess that my thoughts on this matter do not come from myself but are echoes of R.C. Sproul who is a modern day philosopher and apologeticist. He gives an indepth case for the existance of God using logic in the series Defending Your Faith (a seminar he gave that is on cd). Like Gerontian it was and still is hard for me to recall his thoughts but for those interested I highl recomend that series. Bottom line is that I think Tolkien knew well Kant’s critique of pure reason but I also think he disagreed with it because we can see how the shaping of Arda carried the mark of the shaper. Melkor especially because the things he made or mutilated into existance carried with them some of Melkor’s own power. The dwarves were created by Aule and had the love of mining and smithing that he had. The ents were created by Yavanna nad had the deep love for nature and growing things that she had. Even ME itself had the power of being in it just as Illuvatar had. We see that when Finrod first met Beor, men had at least knowledge of the God’s of the West even though the Valar hadn’t presented themselves directly to the Atani.

 

Dunadar 19/Jun/2006 at 01:03 AM
Horse-groom of the Mark Points: 625 Posts: 113 Joined: 06/Apr/2006

This is very late, and I apologize for waiting so long to post. I too have trouble quoting philosophers off the top of my head Gerontian, but I have to disagree with Kant. Kant published that thought with a comprehensive critique of pure reason as a defense for the existance of God at the end of the 18th century.  Kant released his book because of David Humes critique of causality. Kant saw in Humes’ critique of causality the end of science (which at the time was closely linked with science) and he sought to save christianity from a downfall, so in his critique he basically stated that we must take in the existance of God on faith alone. Sorry to go off topic I just wanted to give a bit more information about why Kant said that since God is infinite and we are finite we can’t have a knowledge of him. If this is true then I’m in a lot of trouble because the apostle Paul said in his letter to the Romans that God reveals himself through nature as well as through Jesus Christ and direct experiences. Then if Kant is right, why Paul must be wrong and the bible must not have been inspired by the Holy Spirit.

I don’t believe that Kant is right though. I must admit that I’m party biased because I believe the bible to be true and want it to be true, but I desire to find truth so I’m not completely biased (if that makes any sense). First of all one problem I have with Kant and Stephen Palmquist is that if they are right, then God ceases to be objective and becomes subjective. In other words he changes depending on our own understanding. A God who changes and is not constant, then would be by defenition not a God. A God is an unchanging being that has to be (he cannot, not exist). In other words if we cannot have any knowledge of God then a person who doesn’t believe in God has an excuse saying, "Well you didn’t present yourself to everyone just the people who already believed you were real, so I didn’t know" If God is a just God then he wouldn’t leave that loophole for people exploit. That leads into the second reason that I disagree with Kant. The aposlte Paul said that God presents himself trough nature, so that everyone might know that there is a God. If you want me to quote the passage please let me know, it can be found in Romans chapter 1 verse 20. I believe that eventhough we may not be able to have a compelete comprehensive knowledge of God, he has presented himself enough so that we may have a universal knoweldge of him and not just a subjective one.

 I must confess that my thoughts on this matter do not come from myself but are echoes of R.C. Sproul who is a modern day philosopher and apologeticist. He gives an indepth case for the existance of God using logic in the series Defending Your Faith (a seminar he gave that is on cd). Like Gerontian it was and still is hard for me to recall his thoughts but for those interested I highl recomend that series. Bottom line is that I think Tolkien knew well Kant’s critique of pure reason but I also think he disagreed with it because we can see how the shaping of Arda carried the mark of the shaper. Melkor especially because the things he made or mutilated into existance carried with them some of Melkor’s own power. The dwarves were created by Aule and had the love of mining and smithing that he had. The ents were created by Yavanna nad had the deep love for nature and growing things that she had. Even ME itself had the power of being in it just as Illuvatar had. We see that when Finrod first met Beor, men had at least knowledge of the God’s of the West even though the Valar hadn’t presented themselves directly to the Atani.

 

halfir 19/Jun/2006 at 01:36 AM
Emeritus Points: 46547 Posts: 43664 Joined: 10/Mar/2002

Romenna: I was most struck by your explanatory comments about Austin’s  concept of ’performative utterances’:

 In this respect, the words used at the creation could be seen as performative utterances for rather than merely being sounds, they were actually performing an act, creating.

In this thread:

Oh Elbereth! Gilthoniel.

 

http://www.lotrplaza.com/forum/display_topic_threads.asp?ForumID=22&TopicID=200712&PagePostPosition=1

 

I and others are having a robust debate with my good friend aldoriana regarding the impact of the utterance Oh Elbereth! Gilthoniel on the Witch-king at Weathertop. (In fact I am on ’hold’ at the moment in my responses because of RL interruptions). But the ’Austinian concep’t stuck me as being possibly applicable in that context and I wonder, if you have the time, if you could look-in on that thread and make any observations you felt necessary.X(

Ragnelle: but your conetion to Kant is very timely. And most perceptive since Ernst Cassirer, whom I quotet in the first post and whose book Language and Myth has influenced my thinking a lot - builds on Kant. 

And Barfield, in Poetic Diction -who had such a strong influence on Lewis and Tolkien’s linguistic philosophy argues very much along the lines of Cassirer, i.e.

that the Word, in fact, becomes a sort of primary force, in which all being and doing originate. In all mythical cosmogonies, as far back as they can be traced, this supreme position of the Word is found."

although quite independently as far as I can ascertain.

This concept of the Word as a primary force is of course most powerfully expressed in The Gospel According to John  1.1.(King James version- of course- the zenith of the English language!):

’In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

In Heron’s marvelous thread The Power of Song and Chant {to which both you and Gerontian made valuable contributions}

 

http://www.lotrplaza.com/archive2/display_topic_threads.asp?ForumID=46&TopicID=9350&PagePosition=8

 

in one of my posts I wrote:

 

 Quote

"Small wonder that the word spell means both a story told, and a formula of power over living men." (Tolkien-"On Fairy Stories’)

I was using this quote in a post in response to one of my good friend Britum’s in another thread when I had a blinding flash of the obvious! Hasn’t the fact that Tolkien was a philologist par excellence taught me anything?

Spell= chant = Enchantment = Tolkien’s "Enchanted State

Spell= chant= enchantment = Latin. incantare  (to sing) =O.Fr. en cantare (to sing) = ME . enchant = chant =spell = song.

Spells were chanted or sung - they were ’a formula of power over living men’ and ’a story told".

"It is not far fetched to say that the first musical instrument was the human voice.  Notice our speech when speaking to infants and animals; it is often more pronouncedly musical, or sing song, as part of our way to communicate comfort, security and affection."  (Gerontian’s post in this thread)

"Taking the Christian tradition, all prayers and all other liturgy was origally sung. When the creed (nicenum) was agreed on, they had to sing it for it to be valid" (Ragnelle’s post in this thread)

So perhaps it would be more accurate to say :"In the beginning was the Song, and the Song was with God.’

And Tolkien uses song both to create the world of ME and to have power over it. And as we move from the Age of Magic to the Age of Men the power of chant diminishes cf. the use of chant/song in The Silmarillion and LOTR.

And the "Enchanted State’ the state of ’a formula of power over living men’  and ’a story told’ is what LOTR is- a great and glorious song- that calls into being by its verses the wondrous  world of ME, which in itself started with: Song/chant/spell/enchantment/song- the circle is complete!"

End quote

 what LOTR is- a great and glorious song- that calls into being by its verses the wondrous  world of ME

 {my bold emphasis and underline}

 

the Word, in fact, becomes a sort of primary force, in which all being and doing originate.

{ibid}

Gerontian:A seminal post and a timely intervention.X(

 


 

halfir 19/Jun/2006 at 01:36 AM
Emeritus Points: 46547 Posts: 43664 Joined: 10/Mar/2002

Romenna: I was most struck by your explanatory comments about Austin’s  concept of ’performative utterances’:

 In this respect, the words used at the creation could be seen as performative utterances for rather than merely being sounds, they were actually performing an act, creating.

In this thread:

Oh Elbereth! Gilthoniel.

 

http://www.lotrplaza.com/forum/display_topic_threads.asp?ForumID=22&TopicID=200712&PagePostPosition=1

 

I and others are having a robust debate with my good friend aldoriana regarding the impact of the utterance Oh Elbereth! Gilthoniel on the Witch-king at Weathertop. (In fact I am on ’hold’ at the moment in my responses because of RL interruptions). But the ’Austinian concep’t stuck me as being possibly applicable in that context and I wonder, if you have the time, if you could look-in on that thread and make any observations you felt necessary.X(

Ragnelle: but your conetion to Kant is very timely. And most perceptive since Ernst Cassirer, whom I quotet in the first post and whose book Language and Myth has influenced my thinking a lot - builds on Kant. 

And Barfield, in Poetic Diction -who had such a strong influence on Lewis and Tolkien’s linguistic philosophy argues very much along the lines of Cassirer, i.e.

that the Word, in fact, becomes a sort of primary force, in which all being and doing originate. In all mythical cosmogonies, as far back as they can be traced, this supreme position of the Word is found."

although quite independently as far as I can ascertain.

This concept of the Word as a primary force is of course most powerfully expressed in The Gospel According to John  1.1.(King James version- of course- the zenith of the English language!):

’In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

In Heron’s marvelous thread The Power of Song and Chant {to which both you and Gerontian made valuable contributions}

 

http://www.lotrplaza.com/archive2/display_topic_threads.asp?ForumID=46&TopicID=9350&PagePosition=8

 

in one of my posts I wrote:

 

 Quote

"Small wonder that the word spell means both a story told, and a formula of power over living men." (Tolkien-"On Fairy Stories’)

I was using this quote in a post in response to one of my good friend Britum’s in another thread when I had a blinding flash of the obvious! Hasn’t the fact that Tolkien was a philologist par excellence taught me anything?

Spell= chant = Enchantment = Tolkien’s "Enchanted State

Spell= chant= enchantment = Latin. incantare  (to sing) =O.Fr. en cantare (to sing) = ME . enchant = chant =spell = song.

Spells were chanted or sung - they were ’a formula of power over living men’ and ’a story told".

"It is not far fetched to say that the first musical instrument was the human voice.  Notice our speech when speaking to infants and animals; it is often more pronouncedly musical, or sing song, as part of our way to communicate comfort, security and affection."  (Gerontian’s post in this thread)

"Taking the Christian tradition, all prayers and all other liturgy was origally sung. When the creed (nicenum) was agreed on, they had to sing it for it to be valid" (Ragnelle’s post in this thread)

So perhaps it would be more accurate to say :"In the beginning was the Song, and the Song was with God.’

And Tolkien uses song both to create the world of ME and to have power over it. And as we move from the Age of Magic to the Age of Men the power of chant diminishes cf. the use of chant/song in The Silmarillion and LOTR.

And the "Enchanted State’ the state of ’a formula of power over living men’  and ’a story told’ is what LOTR is- a great and glorious song- that calls into being by its verses the wondrous  world of ME, which in itself started with: Song/chant/spell/enchantment/song- the circle is complete!"

End quote

 what LOTR is- a great and glorious song- that calls into being by its verses the wondrous  world of ME

 {my bold emphasis and underline}

 

the Word, in fact, becomes a sort of primary force, in which all being and doing originate.

{ibid}

Gerontian:A seminal post and a timely intervention.X(

 


 

Lady d`Ecthelion 19/Jun/2006 at 10:21 PM
Doorwarden of Minas Tirith Points: 5312 Posts: 4083 Joined: 14/May/2003
"our minds do not have the necessary hardware needed to run divine software"

Gerontian, with your permission, Sir, but I would like to use this ’utterance’ as my signature, for its absolute brilliance!

(Although ... I could argue about the "hardware", you know!
Wouldn’t it be better to say that we do have the hardware, but not the operational system to run divine software?
)

And Master halfir, a "robust debate" ?

Anyaway, I cannot participate in this discussion (even though it is an interesting one) for a number of reasons, yet, because this present thread seems to start with a quote by E.Cassirer, which quote we discussed in the "Oh! Elbereth, Gilthoniel" - thread, I’d only say that I think it must be written in large red letters that to ascribe to ’Word’ the importance of ’Action’ can only be in the Unreal Reality’ created by the human mind - in myths, religious tales, fiction of any kind etc..., but never in the Real Reality’!
Lady d`Ecthelion 19/Jun/2006 at 10:21 PM
Doorwarden of Minas Tirith Points: 5312 Posts: 4083 Joined: 14/May/2003
"our minds do not have the necessary hardware needed to run divine software"

Gerontian, with your permission, Sir, but I would like to use this ’utterance’ as my signature, for its absolute brilliance!

(Although ... I could argue about the "hardware", you know!
Wouldn’t it be better to say that we do have the hardware, but not the operational system to run divine software?
)

And Master halfir, a "robust debate" ?

Anyaway, I cannot participate in this discussion (even though it is an interesting one) for a number of reasons, yet, because this present thread seems to start with a quote by E.Cassirer, which quote we discussed in the "Oh! Elbereth, Gilthoniel" - thread, I’d only say that I think it must be written in large red letters that to ascribe to ’Word’ the importance of ’Action’ can only be in the Unreal Reality’ created by the human mind - in myths, religious tales, fiction of any kind etc..., but never in the Real Reality’!
Dunadar 20/Jun/2006 at 12:33 AM
Horse-groom of the Mark Points: 625 Posts: 113 Joined: 06/Apr/2006

Halfir I have noticed whenever you chime your two cents worth in people swoon over your posts (and for good reason, you write very clearly and eloquently). Perhaps we should clarify what this topic is really about in discussion. I know at least I have contributed to convaluting the true purpose of this debate. The debate orginally began with the question about what was important in creation if it was the words that God spoke or were the words just to let the heavenly host know what was happening. Then as Ragnelle noted that the "Word" used in the Gospel of John was different from the "Word" used in the Genesis account. The gospel according to John was written in Greek while the account of Genesis was written in Aramiac. The greek word that John used was Logos which in Greek philosophy was the concept of that which brings order to the universe. The words used in the Genesis account simply meant that God spoke. We then tried to fit the "Word" from the gospel according to John into the Genesis account even though John meant to say that Jesus was with God from the beginning and he is the one who brings order to the galaxy, not an actual word.  Then Gerontian cited from Emanuel Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason saying that we cannot have a complete knowledge of God so we must take a blind leap of faith. If Kant is true in what he says then we should all stop debating right now because it would be an excersize in futility to try and learn more about a god if we can’t possibly do so.  Along the way several attempts were made to try and use mythology to defend the statement that God must speak with words because he couldn’t speak without words. The response to that was if an omnipotent being couldn’t do that then he wouldn’t be omnipotent and therefore not considered a god. I know there was more this was just a brief summary as I saw it.

Halfir I can see that you have read posts in this topic because you appauld the people that wrote them for their good posts but you seem to have brought up many points arleady been said and debated about. The early church creeds and whether they need to be spoke or something else has already been much debated about. It may be beneficial to add the the nicean creed isn’t found in the bible in any shape or form and it was a tradition started by the church leaders at the time. The idea of the "Word" has been extensively discussed as well (considering that it is the central theme of this debate). I would like to add that Christianity is different in its view of the "Word." In Christianity the "Word" is not supreme. The Apostle John said that in the beginning the Word was with God and the Word was God. The Word here is in essence God but also distinct from him. The Word is Jesus Christ who made himself sub-servient to God.

I apologize if this seems like a hostile posts, I am more of a verbal person who enjoys debating very much. Besides that I enjoy being understood so I like to be able to ask the person I’m debating if s/he understood what I was saying. I also have very pationate beliefs about this topic and cringe when people say something akin to christian mythology because I believe that Christianity shouldn’t be considered mythology for reasons that I have stated earlier. Once again I apoligize if this post seems hostile or is very confusing and I will gladly try to revise it if anyone wishes.

<Dunadar:  First of all, let me say that I am pleased you have decided to join in some of our Ad lore discussions, I am sure you will add a lot of different perspectives to the mix.  I do need to caution you, however, that Ad Lore is a *very* diverse place, with a lot of different religions, creeds, cultures and perspectives represented.  So, while not everyone is going to share your perspective on a given topic, (or even Halfir’s)  I DO expect that discussions (even conflicting ones) proceed with a minimum of acrimonious commentary. > 

  

Dunadar 20/Jun/2006 at 12:33 AM
Horse-groom of the Mark Points: 625 Posts: 113 Joined: 06/Apr/2006

Halfir I have noticed whenever you chime your two cents worth in people swoon over your posts (and for good reason, you write very clearly and eloquently). Perhaps we should clarify what this topic is really about in discussion. I know at least I have contributed to convaluting the true purpose of this debate. The debate orginally began with the question about what was important in creation if it was the words that God spoke or were the words just to let the heavenly host know what was happening. Then as Ragnelle noted that the "Word" used in the Gospel of John was different from the "Word" used in the Genesis account. The gospel according to John was written in Greek while the account of Genesis was written in Aramiac. The greek word that John used was Logos which in Greek philosophy was the concept of that which brings order to the universe. The words used in the Genesis account simply meant that God spoke. We then tried to fit the "Word" from the gospel according to John into the Genesis account even though John meant to say that Jesus was with God from the beginning and he is the one who brings order to the galaxy, not an actual word.  Then Gerontian cited from Emanuel Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason saying that we cannot have a complete knowledge of God so we must take a blind leap of faith. If Kant is true in what he says then we should all stop debating right now because it would be an excersize in futility to try and learn more about a god if we can’t possibly do so.  Along the way several attempts were made to try and use mythology to defend the statement that God must speak with words because he couldn’t speak without words. The response to that was if an omnipotent being couldn’t do that then he wouldn’t be omnipotent and therefore not considered a god. I know there was more this was just a brief summary as I saw it.

Halfir I can see that you have read posts in this topic because you appauld the people that wrote them for their good posts but you seem to have brought up many points arleady been said and debated about. The early church creeds and whether they need to be spoke or something else has already been much debated about. It may be beneficial to add the the nicean creed isn’t found in the bible in any shape or form and it was a tradition started by the church leaders at the time. The idea of the "Word" has been extensively discussed as well (considering that it is the central theme of this debate). I would like to add that Christianity is different in its view of the "Word." In Christianity the "Word" is not supreme. The Apostle John said that in the beginning the Word was with God and the Word was God. The Word here is in essence God but also distinct from him. The Word is Jesus Christ who made himself sub-servient to God.

I apologize if this seems like a hostile posts, I am more of a verbal person who enjoys debating very much. Besides that I enjoy being understood so I like to be able to ask the person I’m debating if s/he understood what I was saying. I also have very pationate beliefs about this topic and cringe when people say something akin to christian mythology because I believe that Christianity shouldn’t be considered mythology for reasons that I have stated earlier. Once again I apoligize if this post seems hostile or is very confusing and I will gladly try to revise it if anyone wishes.

<Dunadar:  First of all, let me say that I am pleased you have decided to join in some of our Ad lore discussions, I am sure you will add a lot of different perspectives to the mix.  I do need to caution you, however, that Ad Lore is a *very* diverse place, with a lot of different religions, creeds, cultures and perspectives represented.  So, while not everyone is going to share your perspective on a given topic, (or even Halfir’s)  I DO expect that discussions (even conflicting ones) proceed with a minimum of acrimonious commentary. > 

  

halfir 20/Jun/2006 at 01:23 AM
Emeritus Points: 46547 Posts: 43664 Joined: 10/Mar/2002

Dunadar: I have no problem if you consider my post redundant or unnecessary- one can’t always score in the bull.I accept my comment to Romenna was a digression but this was the only place to sensibly make contact. As far as the rest of it is concerned I was particularly focusing on Ragnelle’s points regarding Tolkien and the influence of Cassirer-or in the Master’s particular case Owen Barfield, and I thought illuminating that as far as I could see from Tolkien’s perception that the Word and the Act were One.

You will also find that most of the better threads in AL have internal digressions which frequently lead to other threads or some diversification of the original thread.Of course if the Thread Master feels  posts are inappropriate or irrelevant then I would of course be happy to delete them, were they of my making.As it is, I have clearly entered into a thread only part of which has been removed to AL and thus perhaps my understanding of the original context is not as clear as others.

As to your comment:

I also have very pationate beliefs about this topic and cringe when people say something akin to christian mythology because I believe that Christianity shouldn’t be considered mythology for reasons that I have stated earlier,

while others may respect your value system  and beliefs they don’t have to subscribe to them or defer to them.If you have read other posts of mine on the subject of religion and LOTR /Silmarillion/Tolkien you will see that I describe all religions that take as a central point any form of deity/deities as ’myths’ - as to me that is what they are.

And indeed the Master himself had no problem in describing Christianity as a myth - albeit that he believed myths contained  essential truths:

’In the cosmogony there is a fall: a fall of Angels we should say. Though quite different in form, of course, to that of Christian myth" {Letter # 131 Tolkien to Milton Waldman}

and he had no problem in writing in On Fairy -Stories:

’The Gospels contain a fairy-story , or a story of a larger kind which embraces all the essence of fairy-stories.’

And while I do not -currently- share the Master’s particular devotion to supernatural creation the fact that so many myths from diverse cultures contain essential similarities leads me to at least share his viewpoint that:

’...legends and myths are largely made of ’truth’, and indeed present aspects of it that can only be received in this mode; and long ago certain truths and modes of this kind were discovered and must always reappear.’{Letter # 131}

 

halfir 20/Jun/2006 at 01:23 AM
Emeritus Points: 46547 Posts: 43664 Joined: 10/Mar/2002

Dunadar: I have no problem if you consider my post redundant or unnecessary- one can’t always score in the bull.I accept my comment to Romenna was a digression but this was the only place to sensibly make contact. As far as the rest of it is concerned I was particularly focusing on Ragnelle’s points regarding Tolkien and the influence of Cassirer-or in the Master’s particular case Owen Barfield, and I thought illuminating that as far as I could see from Tolkien’s perception that the Word and the Act were One.

You will also find that most of the better threads in AL have internal digressions which frequently lead to other threads or some diversification of the original thread.Of course if the Thread Master feels  posts are inappropriate or irrelevant then I would of course be happy to delete them, were they of my making.As it is, I have clearly entered into a thread only part of which has been removed to AL and thus perhaps my understanding of the original context is not as clear as others.

As to your comment:

I also have very pationate beliefs about this topic and cringe when people say something akin to christian mythology because I believe that Christianity shouldn’t be considered mythology for reasons that I have stated earlier,

while others may respect your value system  and beliefs they don’t have to subscribe to them or defer to them.If you have read other posts of mine on the subject of religion and LOTR /Silmarillion/Tolkien you will see that I describe all religions that take as a central point any form of deity/deities as ’myths’ - as to me that is what they are.

And indeed the Master himself had no problem in describing Christianity as a myth - albeit that he believed myths contained  essential truths:

’In the cosmogony there is a fall: a fall of Angels we should say. Though quite different in form, of course, to that of Christian myth" {Letter # 131 Tolkien to Milton Waldman}

and he had no problem in writing in On Fairy -Stories:

’The Gospels contain a fairy-story , or a story of a larger kind which embraces all the essence of fairy-stories.’

And while I do not -currently- share the Master’s particular devotion to supernatural creation the fact that so many myths from diverse cultures contain essential similarities leads me to at least share his viewpoint that:

’...legends and myths are largely made of ’truth’, and indeed present aspects of it that can only be received in this mode; and long ago certain truths and modes of this kind were discovered and must always reappear.’{Letter # 131}

 

Dunadar 22/Jun/2006 at 12:21 AM
Horse-groom of the Mark Points: 625 Posts: 113 Joined: 06/Apr/2006

Your right Halfir I apologize for my last post. I was tired and not having the best of days when I wrote it and feel compelled to ask for your forgiveness. I know no one is attacking my value system, I was merely trying to state that at times I get a bit over-passionate about a topic (as you can see from my last post).

Tolkien didn’t have a problem with fairy-tales this is true, but he also critisized Lewis’ Chronicle of Narnia, saying that greek mythology shouldn’t be infused with Christianity. This says to me that he holds Christianity and Mythology (at least Greek one) on a different level. It could just be the fact that he was Catholic but the point I’m trying to make is that he believed there was something that seperated the two thoughts (at least in my opinion).

Oh, and one more thing, I’m not trying to attack anyone else’s beliefs (appologies if I have done so) but I merely try to back up my own thoughts and opinions and give reason why I believe what I do.

Dunadar 22/Jun/2006 at 12:21 AM
Horse-groom of the Mark Points: 625 Posts: 113 Joined: 06/Apr/2006

Your right Halfir I apologize for my last post. I was tired and not having the best of days when I wrote it and feel compelled to ask for your forgiveness. I know no one is attacking my value system, I was merely trying to state that at times I get a bit over-passionate about a topic (as you can see from my last post).

Tolkien didn’t have a problem with fairy-tales this is true, but he also critisized Lewis’ Chronicle of Narnia, saying that greek mythology shouldn’t be infused with Christianity. This says to me that he holds Christianity and Mythology (at least Greek one) on a different level. It could just be the fact that he was Catholic but the point I’m trying to make is that he believed there was something that seperated the two thoughts (at least in my opinion).

Oh, and one more thing, I’m not trying to attack anyone else’s beliefs (appologies if I have done so) but I merely try to back up my own thoughts and opinions and give reason why I believe what I do.

Ragnelle 22/Jun/2006 at 02:44 AM
Guard of the Mark Points: 2850 Posts: 4765 Joined: 11/Sep/2002
As one of the original posters in this tread, I would say that your post is most welcome to me, halfir. It started up in a tread here in AdLore, actually, but was compleatly beside the toppic and Bael kindly opened this for us.
Dunadar, while I do share your faith, I do not agree with all your statements of that faith. The Creeds are the crystalisations of the most importaint points of the Christian creeds, and those baptized are asked to belive in them, not the bible per se - strange though it sounds. I should know. I partisipate in the sermony almost every Sunday. I’ve also talked with one of the priest at my congregation, and ’the Word’ used in st. John is meant to refer back to the creation in Genisis 1. There need not be any conflict of meaning though two languages are used. It is quite clear from the acount given in Genisis that the creation by the Word of God also orders the world.
It is also, btw, common for teologians to refer to the creationstories as ’myths’. You need not see it that way, but it is not anti-Christian to do so.
I am sorry that I have been absent for so long, and there is much here I want to answer or comment upon, but it will have to wait until RL allows be the time.
Ragnelle 22/Jun/2006 at 02:44 AM
Guard of the Mark Points: 2850 Posts: 4765 Joined: 11/Sep/2002
As one of the original posters in this tread, I would say that your post is most welcome to me, halfir. It started up in a tread here in AdLore, actually, but was compleatly beside the toppic and Bael kindly opened this for us.
Dunadar, while I do share your faith, I do not agree with all your statements of that faith. The Creeds are the crystalisations of the most importaint points of the Christian creeds, and those baptized are asked to belive in them, not the bible per se - strange though it sounds. I should know. I partisipate in the sermony almost every Sunday. I’ve also talked with one of the priest at my congregation, and ’the Word’ used in st. John is meant to refer back to the creation in Genisis 1. There need not be any conflict of meaning though two languages are used. It is quite clear from the acount given in Genisis that the creation by the Word of God also orders the world.
It is also, btw, common for teologians to refer to the creationstories as ’myths’. You need not see it that way, but it is not anti-Christian to do so.
I am sorry that I have been absent for so long, and there is much here I want to answer or comment upon, but it will have to wait until RL allows be the time.
halfir 22/Jun/2006 at 03:04 AM
Emeritus Points: 46547 Posts: 43664 Joined: 10/Mar/2002

Dunadar: There is absolutely no need to apologize- I was not offended- and your post was in no way hostile. I can respect your views even though I do not share them.X(

I was however, if you will permit another digression, fascinated by your comment :

he also critisized Lewis’ Chronicle of Narnia, saying that greek mythology shouldn’t be infused with Christianity. 

Could you give me a source for this information? My reason for asking is that I possess virtually everything written by Tolkien and much by Lewis,  plus a very wide range of secondary works on the two, and have not come across that specific comment before.

I am aware of  the Tolkien ’aniti-Narnia’ quotes in Geroge Sayer’s ’Jack" and of Lancelyn Green’s comments contained in both Duriez’s ’Tolkien and CS Lewis’ and Hooper& Green’s CSLewis: A biography. (not suprisingly, unless I have missed it, neither Warnie Lewis or CS himself refer in any way to Tolkien’s hostility to the Narnia series in their published works).But I have never seen - or don’t recall seeing - a specific statement along the lines:

greek mythology shouldn’t be infused with Christianity. 

and would appreciate a source.

halfir 22/Jun/2006 at 03:04 AM
Emeritus Points: 46547 Posts: 43664 Joined: 10/Mar/2002

Dunadar: There is absolutely no need to apologize- I was not offended- and your post was in no way hostile. I can respect your views even though I do not share them.X(

I was however, if you will permit another digression, fascinated by your comment :

he also critisized Lewis’ Chronicle of Narnia, saying that greek mythology shouldn’t be infused with Christianity. 

Could you give me a source for this information? My reason for asking is that I possess virtually everything written by Tolkien and much by Lewis,  plus a very wide range of secondary works on the two, and have not come across that specific comment before.

I am aware of  the Tolkien ’aniti-Narnia’ quotes in Geroge Sayer’s ’Jack" and of Lancelyn Green’s comments contained in both Duriez’s ’Tolkien and CS Lewis’ and Hooper& Green’s CSLewis: A biography. (not suprisingly, unless I have missed it, neither Warnie Lewis or CS himself refer in any way to Tolkien’s hostility to the Narnia series in their published works).But I have never seen - or don’t recall seeing - a specific statement along the lines:

greek mythology shouldn’t be infused with Christianity. 

and would appreciate a source.

Mireth Guilbain 22/Jun/2006 at 09:16 AM
Linguist of Lothlorien Points: 3657 Posts: 3995 Joined: 18/Dec/2003

I am new to this thread, having just started reading it today, but two thoughts immediately crossed my mind:

1) Re: "The Word" and Creation, I feel that this thread has turned into more of a debate on Christian theology and practice than a discussion on Tolkien’s portrayal of Eru and the creation of Ea. As I read the first post, I had anticipated a far more literary approach to the concept of "creation", drawing from the Judeo-Christian view more as a literary comparison than statement of fact. To be completely honest, the focus on Christianity in this thread has turned me off of the discussion.

2) What has reengaged me is, not surprisingly, halfir’s post on speech and enchanment. I wonder if exploring Saruman and his use of his voice as a source of power might not add another dimension to the original discussion presented in the first posts of this thread.

Mireth Guilbain 22/Jun/2006 at 09:16 AM
Linguist of Lothlorien Points: 3657 Posts: 3995 Joined: 18/Dec/2003

I am new to this thread, having just started reading it today, but two thoughts immediately crossed my mind:

1) Re: "The Word" and Creation, I feel that this thread has turned into more of a debate on Christian theology and practice than a discussion on Tolkien’s portrayal of Eru and the creation of Ea. As I read the first post, I had anticipated a far more literary approach to the concept of "creation", drawing from the Judeo-Christian view more as a literary comparison than statement of fact. To be completely honest, the focus on Christianity in this thread has turned me off of the discussion.

2) What has reengaged me is, not surprisingly, halfir’s post on speech and enchanment. I wonder if exploring Saruman and his use of his voice as a source of power might not add another dimension to the original discussion presented in the first posts of this thread.

Bjorn 24/Jun/2006 at 04:17 PM
Stablemaster of the Mark Points: 1112 Posts: 499 Joined: 12/Nov/2005

I, too, am new to this thread, and perhaps my voice() shall be too infinitesimal to be considered, however I shall try my best:
  I just read the ’Music of the Ainur’ or ’Ainulindale’ as found in the Book of Lost Tales (I) and the chapter with the same name as found in the SIlmarillion, and overall there were no great dissimilarities between the two, except for one thing (which Christopher acknowledges in the commentary following the chapter in the BoLT), which in the case of this discussion, is quite significant: the fact that in the BoLT version (notably the older version of the two) Eru does not speak the world in existance like in the Ainulindale of the Silmarillion (" Therefore I say: Eä! Let these things Be!"-Silmarillion P.9), rather it is already in existence, for when Iluvatar beckons the Ainur to follow him into the mid-most void, "where before there was nothing", they behold a "sight of surpassing beauty and wonder"-this of course being the world. Iluvatar reveals that even as they sung, the Ainur’s music took shape into what they see before them, whereas in the Silmarillion their music only conjures a vision which afterwards Iluvatar brings forth into existence with ’the Word’. In the BoLT the only ’addition’ to the World Iluvatar makes is placing the ’Secret Fire’, ’the fire that giveth Life and Reality’, at its heart. Much like in the Silmarillion, "And I will send forth into the Void the Flame Imperishable, and it shall be at the heart of the World, and the World shall Be...And suddenly the Ainur saw afar off a light, as it were a cloud with a living heart of flame; and they knew that this was no vision only, but that Iluvatar had made a new thing: Eä, the World that Is."-Sil. P.9 (my bold emphasis).
  It strikes me that, first off in the BoLT version (which I shall call ’A1’) the Ainur sing the world into existence instead of singing only a vision of what shall eventually ’Be’ by Iluvatar’s command afterwards in the Silmarillion version (which I shall call ’A2’). And secondly that the Flame Imperishable or Secret Fire (A2 and A1 respectively) in both cases is ultimately the source that animates and gives reality to the World, effectively making it ’flesh’ (real, alive, existing, etc.). Yes the world was in existance, in A1 by the Ainur’s song, in A2 by Iluvatars ’Word’, which is Eä (notice I equate the two), but in both cases it is the Flame Imperishable (or Secret Fire) that truly makes the world ’alive’. Now we may equate, and for my case I do, the Flame Imperishable to the ’Holy Spirit’, which, too, is at the heart of the World  "He was in the world, and the world was made through Him..." John 1:10 (it says He and Him refering no doubt to Jesus, but Jesus and the Holy Spirit are just the physical and spiritual forms of God Himself, and so in this case He can be interpreted as the Holy Spirit). So in the end the Flame Imperishable (or Iluvatar’s Spirit, if you put it in a Christian context) is the true force behind life and/or animation, if you will. However, you may say in A2 the ’Word’ is the force of Creation, and the Flame just gives it life. Well just take a look at my bold emphasis above. In the Bible, the ’Word’ did not create the World, all it says is, "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth."-first line of Genesis. The ’Word’ shaped the World, much like how the Valar shaped the Earth in A2.

My view on the ’Word’ - God is a being humans cannot truly, or not at all comprehend. He was before Creation, and he caused Creation. How? Did He talk/sing it into existence, like Iluvatar did of the Ainur in A1, or think it into existance, like Iluvatar of the Ainur in A2? We can’t be sure he talked it into existence, like some here seem to imply, like I said above he spoke only when shaping it. And let me remind you also that the Bible does not mention anything of God uttering one word, it says, for example, "And God said, Let there be light[and there was light]"-Genesis 1:3, so we must assume the power lies within Gods speech, much like Saruman’s power lies in his speech (thanks to Mireth Guilbain for pointing him out). So I sorely doubt there is a word. This conflicts with Iluvatar’s utterance of ’a word’, Eä, but, then, because it is no secret, I doubt it is the word itself that brought about the World’s creation, rathers that a) Iluvatar Himself uttered it and b)it was merely an exclamation of Eru’s thought so that, besides the present Ainur, the reader understands what’s going on, much like what a few have already said. The reader, whether your reading the Ainulindale or the Bible, has to have a way of understanding what is taking place in a human context, which would otherwise be infinitely uncomprehensible to us who are but physical beings. The Bible has to put into mortal context what is otherwise impossible for us to visualize - that is why Heaven is so ’material’ in Revelations (the trumpets, and singing, and gold etc.) so our mortal minds can just begin to percieve God and his Kingdom’s glory (well, that is what the Bible is trying to convey anyway). That is why God was made into flesh as Jesus, so we can understand Him better.

I hope I was not too confusing, and that it was somewhat useful

Bjorn 24/Jun/2006 at 04:17 PM
Stablemaster of the Mark Points: 1112 Posts: 499 Joined: 12/Nov/2005

I, too, am new to this thread, and perhaps my voice() shall be too infinitesimal to be considered, however I shall try my best:
  I just read the ’Music of the Ainur’ or ’Ainulindale’ as found in the Book of Lost Tales (I) and the chapter with the same name as found in the SIlmarillion, and overall there were no great dissimilarities between the two, except for one thing (which Christopher acknowledges in the commentary following the chapter in the BoLT), which in the case of this discussion, is quite significant: the fact that in the BoLT version (notably the older version of the two) Eru does not speak the world in existance like in the Ainulindale of the Silmarillion (" Therefore I say: Eä! Let these things Be!"-Silmarillion P.9), rather it is already in existence, for when Iluvatar beckons the Ainur to follow him into the mid-most void, "where before there was nothing", they behold a "sight of surpassing beauty and wonder"-this of course being the world. Iluvatar reveals that even as they sung, the Ainur’s music took shape into what they see before them, whereas in the Silmarillion their music only conjures a vision which afterwards Iluvatar brings forth into existence with ’the Word’. In the BoLT the only ’addition’ to the World Iluvatar makes is placing the ’Secret Fire’, ’the fire that giveth Life and Reality’, at its heart. Much like in the Silmarillion, "And I will send forth into the Void the Flame Imperishable, and it shall be at the heart of the World, and the World shall Be...And suddenly the Ainur saw afar off a light, as it were a cloud with a living heart of flame; and they knew that this was no vision only, but that Iluvatar had made a new thing: Eä, the World that Is."-Sil. P.9 (my bold emphasis).
  It strikes me that, first off in the BoLT version (which I shall call ’A1’) the Ainur sing the world into existence instead of singing only a vision of what shall eventually ’Be’ by Iluvatar’s command afterwards in the Silmarillion version (which I shall call ’A2’). And secondly that the Flame Imperishable or Secret Fire (A2 and A1 respectively) in both cases is ultimately the source that animates and gives reality to the World, effectively making it ’flesh’ (real, alive, existing, etc.). Yes the world was in existance, in A1 by the Ainur’s song, in A2 by Iluvatars ’Word’, which is Eä (notice I equate the two), but in both cases it is the Flame Imperishable (or Secret Fire) that truly makes the world ’alive’. Now we may equate, and for my case I do, the Flame Imperishable to the ’Holy Spirit’, which, too, is at the heart of the World  "He was in the world, and the world was made through Him..." John 1:10 (it says He and Him refering no doubt to Jesus, but Jesus and the Holy Spirit are just the physical and spiritual forms of God Himself, and so in this case He can be interpreted as the Holy Spirit). So in the end the Flame Imperishable (or Iluvatar’s Spirit, if you put it in a Christian context) is the true force behind life and/or animation, if you will. However, you may say in A2 the ’Word’ is the force of Creation, and the Flame just gives it life. Well just take a look at my bold emphasis above. In the Bible, the ’Word’ did not create the World, all it says is, "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth."-first line of Genesis. The ’Word’ shaped the World, much like how the Valar shaped the Earth in A2.

My view on the ’Word’ - God is a being humans cannot truly, or not at all comprehend. He was before Creation, and he caused Creation. How? Did He talk/sing it into existence, like Iluvatar did of the Ainur in A1, or think it into existance, like Iluvatar of the Ainur in A2? We can’t be sure he talked it into existence, like some here seem to imply, like I said above he spoke only when shaping it. And let me remind you also that the Bible does not mention anything of God uttering one word, it says, for example, "And God said, Let there be light[and there was light]"-Genesis 1:3, so we must assume the power lies within Gods speech, much like Saruman’s power lies in his speech (thanks to Mireth Guilbain for pointing him out). So I sorely doubt there is a word. This conflicts with Iluvatar’s utterance of ’a word’, Eä, but, then, because it is no secret, I doubt it is the word itself that brought about the World’s creation, rathers that a) Iluvatar Himself uttered it and b)it was merely an exclamation of Eru’s thought so that, besides the present Ainur, the reader understands what’s going on, much like what a few have already said. The reader, whether your reading the Ainulindale or the Bible, has to have a way of understanding what is taking place in a human context, which would otherwise be infinitely uncomprehensible to us who are but physical beings. The Bible has to put into mortal context what is otherwise impossible for us to visualize - that is why Heaven is so ’material’ in Revelations (the trumpets, and singing, and gold etc.) so our mortal minds can just begin to percieve God and his Kingdom’s glory (well, that is what the Bible is trying to convey anyway). That is why God was made into flesh as Jesus, so we can understand Him better.

I hope I was not too confusing, and that it was somewhat useful

Dunadar 26/Jun/2006 at 05:37 AM
Horse-groom of the Mark Points: 625 Posts: 113 Joined: 06/Apr/2006

Halfir I looked for that quote this weekend, but my search was fruitless. I believe I got it from Battle For Middle Earth by Flemming Rutledge who looked at LOTR in an interesting way. In the book he wonders about the passive voice that is found in it (the strongest example would be when Gandalf and Sauron were struggling for control of Frodo and when he can’t take it anymore a voice says to him "take it off you fool") In the book Rutledge gives his two cents about what that passive voice is. Anyway he got that quote either from the Letters or a Biography of Tolkien by Humphery Carpenter (I think that’s who it was I could be wrong since I don’t have the book with me), so I’ll continue to look for that quote but until I find it I guess we should disregard what I said.

Bjorn thanks for your input and It wasn’t confusing but rather coherent. I would encourage you to read the posts a bit more carefully before you write your own (I struggle with doing this so I’m not innocent of what I’m speaking against). John 1:1 states that in the beginning the Word was with God and the Word was God. That is were all the discussion of what the Word actually means came from. Also it is stated in the Bible that God created everything through the Word, Jesus Christ, which is the link between the Word and Creation. I agree with you that we can’t have a complete understanding of God and I agree even more that there wasn’t a word that God uttered that allowed the earth to be, but the Word, Jesus Christ, was most certainly there.

Before I forget I appreciate you bringing the discussion back to ME, or at least I hope that’s the way the discussion will now go (if it continues at all)

Dunadar 26/Jun/2006 at 05:37 AM
Horse-groom of the Mark Points: 625 Posts: 113 Joined: 06/Apr/2006

Halfir I looked for that quote this weekend, but my search was fruitless. I believe I got it from Battle For Middle Earth by Flemming Rutledge who looked at LOTR in an interesting way. In the book he wonders about the passive voice that is found in it (the strongest example would be when Gandalf and Sauron were struggling for control of Frodo and when he can’t take it anymore a voice says to him "take it off you fool") In the book Rutledge gives his two cents about what that passive voice is. Anyway he got that quote either from the Letters or a Biography of Tolkien by Humphery Carpenter (I think that’s who it was I could be wrong since I don’t have the book with me), so I’ll continue to look for that quote but until I find it I guess we should disregard what I said.

Bjorn thanks for your input and It wasn’t confusing but rather coherent. I would encourage you to read the posts a bit more carefully before you write your own (I struggle with doing this so I’m not innocent of what I’m speaking against). John 1:1 states that in the beginning the Word was with God and the Word was God. That is were all the discussion of what the Word actually means came from. Also it is stated in the Bible that God created everything through the Word, Jesus Christ, which is the link between the Word and Creation. I agree with you that we can’t have a complete understanding of God and I agree even more that there wasn’t a word that God uttered that allowed the earth to be, but the Word, Jesus Christ, was most certainly there.

Before I forget I appreciate you bringing the discussion back to ME, or at least I hope that’s the way the discussion will now go (if it continues at all)

halfir 26/Jun/2006 at 07:11 AM
Emeritus Points: 46547 Posts: 43664 Joined: 10/Mar/2002

I’ll continue to look for that quote but until I find it I guess we should disregard what I said.

Dunadar: That’s very civilised of you. X(The overall sentiment of Tolkien’s dislike  of Lewis’ Narnian mythology is correct- he certainly felt it was a’jumble’ of various myths and mythologies (Father Christmas particularly!) but the specific one you mentioned is unfamilar to me. I wish you luck in your search.

And I am afraid that I was as unimpressed by Ms. Rutledge as I have been by Pearce, Birzer et.al. who start with their word- Christianity- rather than Tolkien’s  - in their interpretation of his work.:

’I had a mind to make a body of more or less connected legend....which I could dedicate simply to: to England; to my country’. {Letter # 131}

Ms.Rutledge-  as her own words show- comes from a very different direction:

Tolkien did not intend his story to be about Good vs. Evil with clearly defined boundaries. It is significant that in his letters he often puts "good" in quotation marks as if to say "supposedly" good. The book is about the way that evil (understood as power over others) has the capacity to insinuate its way into the hearts and souls of absolutely everyone. Not even Gandalf is immune. That, for me, is the greatness and the subtlety of [LOTR].

My own conviction is that the theological structure of the book (what I call the "deep narrative") pervades the entire work and is subtly disclosed by Tolkien by [his use] of the passive form of the verb in sentences ("Frodo was meant" to have the Ring) and the frequent references to "some other will." The observant reader will gradually come to feel an overpowering sense of the presence of God, or - in an honored theological term now unfortunately less used - Providence. Tolkien uses the passive the way the Bible does, to indicate the active, shaping presence of God ("their eyes were opened," "the rocks were split").*

Tolkien calls God Eru, "The One," or Ilvatar, "Father of All." In his own words, the One "intrudes the finger of God" into the plot at various identifiable points. It is this One whom Tolkien calls The Writer of the Story, quoting with obvious approval the words of a reviewer who referred to "that one ever-present person who is never absent and never named."

{Ms. Rutledge - for those who don’t know of her  - is a Protestant episcopalian priest and, on her own admission not a Tolkien scholar albeit a Tolkien devotee}.

And, and please excuse the digression from the thread you are following, I said earlier:

This concept of the Word as a primary force is of course most powerfully expressed in The Gospel According to John  1.1.(King James version- of course- the zenith of the English language!).In looking once again at those wonderful words from the King James version of the Bible-Gospel According to  John:

’In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

if one rewrote that-- but still kept the essential sense- one would have a perfect description of the way in which Tolkien’s masterpieces were created:

’In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with the Creator, and the Word was the Creator.

because for him, the word most definitely came first- and then creation followed.

 

halfir 26/Jun/2006 at 07:11 AM
Emeritus Points: 46547 Posts: 43664 Joined: 10/Mar/2002

I’ll continue to look for that quote but until I find it I guess we should disregard what I said.

Dunadar: That’s very civilised of you. X(The overall sentiment of Tolkien’s dislike  of Lewis’ Narnian mythology is correct- he certainly felt it was a’jumble’ of various myths and mythologies (Father Christmas particularly!) but the specific one you mentioned is unfamilar to me. I wish you luck in your search.

And I am afraid that I was as unimpressed by Ms. Rutledge as I have been by Pearce, Birzer et.al. who start with their word- Christianity- rather than Tolkien’s  - in their interpretation of his work.:

’I had a mind to make a body of more or less connected legend....which I could dedicate simply to: to England; to my country’. {Letter # 131}

Ms.Rutledge-  as her own words show- comes from a very different direction:

Tolkien did not intend his story to be about Good vs. Evil with clearly defined boundaries. It is significant that in his letters he often puts "good" in quotation marks as if to say "supposedly" good. The book is about the way that evil (understood as power over others) has the capacity to insinuate its way into the hearts and souls of absolutely everyone. Not even Gandalf is immune. That, for me, is the greatness and the subtlety of [LOTR].

My own conviction is that the theological structure of the book (what I call the "deep narrative") pervades the entire work and is subtly disclosed by Tolkien by [his use] of the passive form of the verb in sentences ("Frodo was meant" to have the Ring) and the frequent references to "some other will." The observant reader will gradually come to feel an overpowering sense of the presence of God, or - in an honored theological term now unfortunately less used - Providence. Tolkien uses the passive the way the Bible does, to indicate the active, shaping presence of God ("their eyes were opened," "the rocks were split").*

Tolkien calls God Eru, "The One," or Ilvatar, "Father of All." In his own words, the One "intrudes the finger of God" into the plot at various identifiable points. It is this One whom Tolkien calls The Writer of the Story, quoting with obvious approval the words of a reviewer who referred to "that one ever-present person who is never absent and never named."

{Ms. Rutledge - for those who don’t know of her  - is a Protestant episcopalian priest and, on her own admission not a Tolkien scholar albeit a Tolkien devotee}.

And, and please excuse the digression from the thread you are following, I said earlier:

This concept of the Word as a primary force is of course most powerfully expressed in The Gospel According to John  1.1.(King James version- of course- the zenith of the English language!).In looking once again at those wonderful words from the King James version of the Bible-Gospel According to  John:

’In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

if one rewrote that-- but still kept the essential sense- one would have a perfect description of the way in which Tolkien’s masterpieces were created:

’In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with the Creator, and the Word was the Creator.

because for him, the word most definitely came first- and then creation followed.

 

Eladar 29/Nov/2006 at 07:04 AM
Foolhardy Ent of Fangorn Points: 1948 Posts: 1306 Joined: 25/Feb/2005

BB,

Here is a thread which I believe fits your description of being about a religion.  It is specifically about Christianity and the creation of the world based on the Genesis account.

Eladar 29/Nov/2006 at 07:04 AM
Foolhardy Ent of Fangorn Points: 1948 Posts: 1306 Joined: 25/Feb/2005

BB,

Here is a thread which I believe fits your description of being about a religion.  It is specifically about Christianity and the creation of the world based on the Genesis account.

Bearamir 29/Nov/2006 at 06:48 PM
Emeritus Points: 16276 Posts: 16742 Joined: 21/Sep/2008

Eladar:  As I said in another thread, there have been several threads in the forum to discuss various aspects of Tolkien’s world, and the myths and mythos which may (or may not have contributed) to his cosmology. .  Under the ageis of this kind of "comparative perspective" discussion, religious themes have been allowed. 

Therefore, unless this discussion degenerates into an argument of "whose religion is better than whose" (or my colleagues deem otherwise) this venerable (and excellent discussion) will be allowed to continue.

Bearamir 29/Nov/2006 at 06:48 PM
Emeritus Points: 16276 Posts: 16742 Joined: 21/Sep/2008

Eladar:  As I said in another thread, there have been several threads in the forum to discuss various aspects of Tolkien’s world, and the myths and mythos which may (or may not have contributed) to his cosmology. .  Under the ageis of this kind of "comparative perspective" discussion, religious themes have been allowed. 

Therefore, unless this discussion degenerates into an argument of "whose religion is better than whose" (or my colleagues deem otherwise) this venerable (and excellent discussion) will be allowed to continue.

elvenpath 23/Dec/2006 at 12:33 PM
Torturer of Mordor Points: 2310 Posts: 2270 Joined: 28/Apr/2004

As I wish not to get into a debate concerning Christian religion, I’ll answer to Mireth Guilbain proposal and focus on Saruman’s voice. First of all, here are the quotes referring to the effect Saruman’s voice had.

 

Gandalf tells Gimli in TTT, The Voice of Saruman

 

And Saruman has powers you do not guess. Beware of his voice!’

 

Tolkien describes the voice of Saruman:

 

Suddenly another voice spoke, low and melodious, its very sound an enchantment. Those who listened unwarily to that voice could seldom report the words that they heard; and if they did, they wondered, for little power remained in them. Mostly they remembered only that it was a delight to hear the voice speaking, all that it said seemed wise and reasonable, and desire awoke in them by swift agreement to seem wise themselves. When others spoke they seemed harsh and uncouth by contrast; and if they gainsaid the voice, anger was kindled in the hearts of those under the spell. Fur some the spell lasted only while the voice spoke to them, and when it spake to another they smiled, as men do who see through a juggler’s trick while others gape at it. For many the sound of the voice alone was enough to hold them enthralled; but for those whom it conquered the spell endured when they were far away, and ever they heard that soft voice whispering and urging them. But none were unmoved; none rejected its pleas and its commands without an effort of mind and will, so long as its master had control of it.

 

The Riders stirred at first, murmuring with approval of the words of Saruman; and then they too were silent, as men spell-bound. It seemed to them that Gandalf had never spoken so fair and fittingly to their lord.

 

It was Gimli the dwarf who broke in suddenly. ’The words of this wizard stand on their heads,’ he growled, gripping the handle of his axe. ’In the language of Orthanc help means ruin, and saving means slaying, that is plain. But we do not come here to beg.’

’Peace!’ said Saruman, and for a fleeting moment his voice was less suave, and a light flickered in his eyes and was gone.

 

Harsh as an old raven’s their master’s voice sounded in their ears after the music of Saruman. But Saruman for a while was beside himself with wrath. He leaned over the rail as if he would smite the King with his staff. To some suddenly it seemed that they saw a snake coiling itself to strike.

 

So great was the power that Saruman exerted in this last effort that none that stood within hearing were unmoved. But now the spell was wholly different. They heard the gentle remonstrance of a kindly king with an erring but much-loved minister. But they were shut out, listening at a door to words not meant for them[…] The door would be closed, and they would be left outside, dismissed to await allotted work or punishment. Even in the mind of Théoden the thought took shape, like a shadow of doubt: ’He will betray us; he will go – we shall be lost.’

It seems, even knowing Saruman was a traitor, was hard for a simple mortal to resist to the power of his voice. Words are able to distort reality and serve to the purpose of the one who ’wields’ them.

 

To better understand the power of words, the power of language and how Saruman was capable to put a ‘spell’ on the ones who listened to him, I’ll refer to Melkor who also used the power of words to seduce the Elves. Tolkien brings up the power of language in Osanwe-Kenta when explaining the methods used by Melkor to seduce the Elves.

 

And this weapon he [Melkor] found in ‘language’. For we speak now of the Incarnate, the Eruhíni whom he most desired to subjugate in Eru’s despite. […] And their language, though it comes from the spirit or mind, operates through and with the body: it is not the sáma or its sanwe, but it may express the sanwe in its mode and according to its capacity. Upon the body and upon the indweller, therefore, such pressure and such fear may be exerted that the incarnate person may be forced to speak.[…] From the first he was greatly interested in “language”, that talent that the Eruhíni would have by nature; but we did not at once perceive the malice in this interest, for many of us shared it, and Aulë above all. But in time we discovered that he made a language for those who serve him; and he has learned our tongue with ease. He has great skill in this matter. Beyond doubt he will master all tongues, even the fair speech of the Eldar. Therefore, if ever you speak with him beware!’

‘Alas,’ says Pengolodh, ‘in Valinor Melkor used the Quenya with such mastery that all the Eldar were amazed, for his use could not be bettered, scarce equalled even, by the poets and the loremasters.’

 

So Saruman was not the first one who used this ‘technique’. Melkor was the master of language, the first who understood the advantage of using this way of communication.

 

I don’t have much time to order my thoughts right now, I’ll come back later with some more…