Cosmogenic Myths: Timaeus And Genesis I

1269 words - 5 pages

Although, they are different in every region, cosmogenic myths have many universal elements that are seemingly essential to the genre. The archetypal creation or origin myth contains four ideas that create a foundation for subsequent cultural dogma: primeval chaos, dualism, creation through sacrifice, and conjecture. They can start out very simply, and grow more complex as they are affected by time. They may be distorted, as they are passed down by oral tradition. And then later, when they are written down the meaning may change. But none of that will matter because, without the proper context one cannot understand the true implications of cosmogenic myths.
The Greek philosopher and student of Socrates, Plato lived in Athens c. 429–347 BCE. His work explores political, ethical, and metaphysical themes and has influenced the development of western society. Plato's works endure not just because of the concepts they explore, but for their dialectical style. All but one of his works are in the from of dialogue, in which characters hold philosophical debates. His dialogues have incurred much controversy among academics, since it is not clear what parts were Plato's beliefs and which were the character's. Since this is true, it is thought that Plato's intention was for the reader to view the works as a whole. Any interpretation of Plato's reflects one's personal philosophy, which may have been his intention; why should the author's thoughts seem better than our own interpretations his philosophical principles? Plato's Timaeus discusses the creation of the universe (or kosmos), and is widely accepted to be among his later works. In Timaeus, Plato describes how the divine craftsman, or Demiurge, created order from chaos by imposing mathematical constants like phi: the golden ratio.
Unlike Plato, the author of the biblical creation story in Genesis I is a bit more elusive. Scholars have identified three distinct literary styles in Genesis. The Yahwist, Elohist, and Priestly strains were all written at different times and later combined. The strains reflect literary techniques derived from the oral–written traditions of different regions, times, and points of view. The Yahwist or Jahwist (J) strain is the oldest of the three; thought to be written as early as 950 BCE, J was traced to Judah, and used the name Yahweh for God. The Elohist (E) strain, written c. 900-700 BCE, was believed composed in northern Israel because of it's noticeable predilection for Israeli priests and traditions. While J anthropomorphizes Yahweh by showing him form man with his hands, taking walks through Eden, and eating food that Abraham offers him, E's God, Elohim, is much more less physical but shows human emotions like regret. Around 750 BCE J and E were combined and some stories remained in their original form and other were melded together. The Priestly strain (P) was written much later around 400 BCE and contains the roles, rules, and rituals of priesthood. It...

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