Historical Reprints Religion Oedipus Judaicus

Oedipus Judaicus

Oedipus Judaicus
Catalog # SKU3855
Publisher TGS Publishing
Weight 1.00 lbs
Author Name Sir W. Drummond
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$14.95
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Description

The
Oedipus Judaicus


By
Sir W. Drummond


I pretend, that the ancient Jews, like other nations of antiquity, had their esoteric and their exoteric doctrines. They concealed the former under innumerable types and symbols, the meaning of which is generally unknown among their descendants.

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Excerpt:

It is the object of my book to explain the hidden sense of many passages in the Hebrew Scriptures; but as Christians are, for the most part, so well satisfied with the literal sense, as never to look for any other, except when it is thought that some allusion is made to the advent of Christ, I feel myself unwilling to publish any explanations of the original text, which may not I pretend, that the ancient Jews, like other nations of antiquity, had their esoteric and their exoteric doctrines. They concealed the former under innumerable types and symbols, the meaning of which is generally unknown among their descendants. It is the object of my book to explain the hidden sense of many passages in the Hebrew Scriptures; but as Christians are, for the most part, so well satisfied with the literal sense, as never to look for any other, except when it is thought that some allusion is made to the advent of Christ, I feel myself unwilling to publish any explanations of the original text, which may not coincide with those notions concerning its meaning which are most commonly received. Besides, there may be passages in this volume, which are capable of alarming the timid, and of provoking the prejudiced. Ignorance bears ill being told, that it has much to learn; and to instruct Pride is to affront it.

The Old Testament is a book, which we have all read in our childhood, when reason proposes no doubts, and when judgment is too feeble to decide for itself. But its early associations are generally the strongest in the human mind; and what we have been taught to credit as children, we are seldom disposed to question as men. Called away from speculative inquiries by the common business of life, men in general possess neither the inclination, nor the leisure, to examine what they believe, or why they believe. A Powerful prejudice remains in the mind;-ensures conviction. Without the trouble of thinking; and repels doubt without the aid or authority of reason. The multitude, then, is not very likely to applaud an author, who calls upon it to consider what it had hitherto neglected, and to stop where it had been accustomed to pass on.

It may also happen, that there is a learned and a formidable body, which, having given its general sanction to the literal interpretation of the Hebrew Scriptures, maybe offended at the presumption of an unhallowed layman, who ventures to hold, that the language of those Scriptures is often symbolical and allegorical, even in passages, which both the Church and the Synagogue consider as containing nothing else than a p1ain statement of facts. A writer, who had sufficient boldness to encounter such obstacles, and to make an appeal to the public, would only expose himself to the invectives of offended bigotry, and to the misrepresentations of interested malice. The press would be made to ring with declamations against him; and neither learning, nor argument, nor reason, nor moderation, on his side, would protect him from the literary assassination which awaited him. In vain would he put on the heaven-tempered panoply of Truth. The weapons, which could neither pierce his buckler, nor break his casque, might be made to pass with envenomed points through the joints of his armour. Every trivial error, which he might commit, would be magnified into a flagrant fault; and every insignificant mistake, into which he might fill, would be represented by the bigoted, or by the hireling critics of the day, as an ignorant, or as a perverse, deviation from the truth.

Under these circumstances, I feel little inclination to make my opinions too publicly known. It may he hoped, however, that reason and liberality will soon again be progressive in their march; and that men will cease to think that Religion can be really at war with Philosophy. When we hear the timid Sons of Superstition calling to each other to rally round the altar, we may well blush for human weakness. The altar, of which the basis is established by Reason, and which is supported by Truth and Nature, can never be overthrown. It is before that altar that I kneel, and that I adore the God, whom philosophy has taught me to consider as the infinite and eternal Mind, that formed, and that sustains, the fair order of Nature, and that created and preserves the universal system.

To a small circle I think myself at liberty to observe, that the manner in which the Christian readers of the Old Testament generally choose to understand it, appears to me to be a little singular. While the Deity is represented with human passion and those none of the best;-while he described as a quarrelsome, jealous, a vindictive being;-while he is shown to continually changing his plans for the moral government of the world;-and while he is depicted as a material and local God, who dwelt on a box made of Shittim wood in the temple of Jerusalem;-they abide by the literal interpretation. They see no allegory in the first chapters of Genesis; nor doubt, that far the greater portion of the human race is doomed to suffer eternal torments, because our first parents ate an apple, after having been tempted by a talking serpent. They find it quite simple, that the triune Jehovah should dine on veal cutlets at Abraham's table; nor are they at all surprised, that the God of the universe should pay a visit to Ezekiel, in order to settle with the Prophet, whether he should bake his bread with human dung, or with Cow's dung.

In these examples the Christian readers of the Hebrew Scriptures understand no allegory They believe the facts to have happened literally as they are stated; and neither suspect, nor allow, that the language of the sacred writers upon such occasions may be entirely figurative. Very different is their mode of interpreting these same Scriptures, when they think there is any allusion made to the kingdom of Christ. Then they abandon the literal sense without scruple, and sometimes, it may be thought, without consideration. The Rabbins learn with astonishment, that the Song of Solomon, for example, is a mere allegory, which represents the love of Jesus for his church; and that the lady, whose navel was like a round goblet, not wanting liquor,-whose belly was like a heap of wheat, set about with lilies,-whose nose was as the tower of Lebanon, which looketh towards Damascus,-and who promised to her well. beloved, that he should lie all night betwixt her breasts,-was not Solomon's mistress, but the Church, the spiritual spouse of Christ.

But since the Christians do admit allegory-since they even contend that the Old Testament abounds with figurative and symbolical language, descriptive of the advent of the Messiah; why will they so strenuously insist upon the strict interpretation of the text in other examples? Be their decision what it may, the theist is bound to vindicate the majesty of the Deity.

Cicero has said, that it is easier to tell what God is not, than what he is. Now every theist is surely prepared to say, that the Deity is neither unjust, nor cruel, nor liable, in any manner, to the frailties of human nature. Is it possible for the literal interpreter of the Hebrew Scriptures to aver this of Jehovah? The Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh;-was it just then to afflict Egypt with so many calamities, on account of Pharaoh's obstinacy? The destruction of the seven nations, ordained in the seventh chapter of Deuteronomy, appears to be utterly irreconcileable either to justice or to mercy. Their crime was idolatry; but this was the crime of mankind with the exception of the Hebrews; and the seven nations seem to have merited so terrible a fate less than the Egyptians who beheld all the miracles performed by Jehovah, and who yet continued to worship the Gods of their country. But we cannot wonder at these things, since the passion of anger and jealousy, and the feeling of repentance, or regret, which are human infirmities, are frequently attributed to God of the Hebrews.




276 pages - 7 x 8½ softcover - Print size, 12 point font


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