Saturday, November 26, 2005

Yahweh is a Volcano God? Who Knew!

I was reading through Sex, Ecology, and Spirituality (great book, I highly recommend), and I came across this assertion by the author:

"[The Hebrew God] was, through and through, a mythic-level production: a geocentric, egocentric, anthropocentric local volcano god..."

Okay, I could agree with all those things except for the whole "volcano god" idea. I'd never heard of that part before. Then I did a little bit of "research" (and by research, I mean I googled "yahweh volcano god"), and came up with this article: Yahweh. It's definitely worth reading, but I'll highlight the interesting part about volcano gods:

"The Israelites had to physically leave Egypt to worship Yahweh. They could not, under any circumstances, worship Him in Egypt, because they could not even see him there. Exodus is very specific as to what they had to see: "They took their journey from Succoth and encamped at Etham, in the edge of the wilderness. The Lord Yahweh went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by day and night (Exodus 13:21)." This is a clear and simple description of an active volcano- - smoke by day, fire by night.

Then, to fully prove this assumption, they gathered around this mountain, and were told that they were never to climb or touch it, on danger of death. "Take heed to yourselves, that ye go not up into the mount, or touch the border of it: whosoever touchesth the mount shall be surely put to death (Exodus 19:12)." The mountain must have been dangerously hot to the touch. The passage continues: "And mount Sinai was altogether on a smoke, because the Lord Yahweh descended upon it in fire: and the smoke thereof ascended as the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mount quaked greatly." Another clear description of an active volcano. And at this emotionally impressive location Moses gave the Israelites a Code of Law, and reforged a covenant which was to become the basis for the development of monotheism."1

Well then, apparently the bible warrants a closer reading. But at least now I know what allusion to do for my Allusion Card for AP English.


1 Not that I'm trying to dismiss Judaism, or any other mythic religion (as long as it was made at or before the Axial Age). The volcano god is simply a mythic level interpretation of the world. In fact, at that time, that was a rather high level of interpretation. Therefore, Let he who is innocent cast the first stone. By this, I mean I hope that thousands of years from now, when people are quantum leaps ahead of us in cognitive development, they will look back on our "foolish rationalism" with some sympathy and understanding.


dave in the back said...

silly jews and their sexual inuendos.

yeah, the volcano god... I bet they're talking about fire ;-)

MichaelGabrielR said...

The author does not cite any sources. Besides, why should we believe a New Age-esque philosopher, who lived two thousand years after the New Testament events?
So, I guess atheists do believe in something...

Anonymous said...

What sources? If your talking about the author of this post, he posted a link to the article he is citing IN THE POST. If you are talking about the article he linked to, it is full of citations. They are all from the bible, but they are citations nonetheless. I'm not sure what you could be talking about.

Anonymous said...

Joseph Campbell, the noted mythology scholar, wrote about this idea of Yahweh as the canaanite volcano god in his book The Masks of God (1964), and drew upon earlier scholars. This is where I first heard it. I can't find the exact reference at the moment, but will keep looking. But I don't think the bible says anything about Yahweh being a local volcano god...that doesnt mean it's not valid.

David Powell said...

Everywhere there are volcanoes they are the Gods. If you look at the docu-drama "Krakatoa, the Last Days", it illustrates why. It has to be the most powerful force mankind has experienced. Pyramid building cultures all had volcano gods. This is a great examination of the development of this culture: