The Jewish Lesson

Most ancient cultures have their own hierarchical world of gods, demigods and a chief god. For example, Greek had Zeus, Athena and Hercules; the Germans had Wodan, Freia, Baldur and Loki, the Persians had Osmud, Ahriman and Ahura Mazda. An important metahistorical question concerns the relation between different worlds of gods. The phenomenology of religion describes all different worlds of gods that have occurred and puts them all together to avoid prejudgements. However, in doing so, one suggests that only names changed but that the gods remain still the same over time and cultures. In this way the Islamitic God Allah is considered the same as the Christian God of the Old Testament. 

If one assumes that the worship of divine powers is only based on projection of anthropomorphic imaginations by the human spirit (a modern assumption put forward by Feuerbach) and that assumption is anachronistically applied to ancient cultures (meaning that religion in ancient times was also only projection), then it is plausible that since all human beings are equal, their projections must be equal too.

On the other hand, if one assumes that we can only approach ancient times by taking the experiences of that time for granted, because we have no 'golden standard' to judge, then all divine powers did actually (co-)exist according to expressions of that time that must be considered as authentic, whether or not we can feel those experiences in a similar way.

Metahistory aims to study gods of a culture in the way they are perceived by that culture. Striving to become synchronic with a culture under study, one sticks to that culture and to the world of gods belonging to that culture. However, in this way no relation can be found between different cultures and different worlds of gods. So far, there is one exception: the Jewish culture. Despite the fact that Jewish culture has a mono-theistic religion, this culture is the only culture that has not only knowledge about their own world of divine beings, but also about the worlds of gods of other cultures and the relation between them and the Jewish God. From a metahistorical point of view, the Jewish culture may fill the gap of mutual relations between gods of different cultures.     

One of the proposed reasons for this specific characteristic of Jewish religion is the fact that Jews were always in confrontation with different leading cultures without changing themselves: the story of Moses in relation with Egyptian Pharaos, the role of Daniel in the Babylonic culture, and the  acts of Jesus in the period of the Roman Empire. Although this reason has without doubt a major impact, one has to take a closer look. In  fact, researchers must prepare themselves to overcome modern limitations of a materialistic rationalism, in order to go back even before Christian medieval metaphysics. When we focus on the Jewish Scriptures (in European tradition known as the 'old testament of the Bible'), the Jewish lesson can be (re)constructed as follows.

Out of Great Stories of a culture, the essence of a culture may be retrieved (like Illias of Greek culture and Edda of Germanic). This essence can be interpreted as a revelation or emergence of a cultural being (like Goethe and Hegel did). This cultural being unifies a culture and determines a language community. According to Jewish Scriptures, many cultural beings are present: for example, heaven and earth are gods made by JHWH, the Jewish God. Furthermore, Jewish religion distinguish between gods and (self-made) images of gods. Although the Holy Jewish Law forbid Jewish people to worship images and forbid to worship other gods than the only Jewish God, the existence of gods of neighboring cultures is never denied. On the contrary, several Scriptures explicitly describe the relation between the Jewish God and the other cultural gods (Exodus 12:12, 22:8+9, Deuteronomy 4:19, Daniel, Psalms 138, Job, Ephesians 6:12). While all other cultures have their own chief god, this chief god is, according to Jewish lectures, intermediary between that culture and the highest Divine Being. The only difference with the Jewish culture is that Jews have no chief cultural god as intermediary, but they have to deal directly with the highest Divine Being. All Jewish stories subsequently showed the impossibility for human beings (at least for Jewish people) to fulfill this task.

According to the Jewish tradition, cultural gods derive their dominion and brilliancy from the highest Divine Being: they are appointed to mediate between a human culture and the divine world. However, both humans and cultural gods may choose to go for themselves instead of serving others. In this respect, both humans and cultural gods can 'fall in darkness' and then need conversion or inversion to their original destiny. Jewish tradition distinguishes between cultural gods, the inspiration of these gods in human beings and the influence of stronger powers behind these gods.   

Finally, if a cultural god allows unjustice against the weakest or neglects mercy, he must die like a human being (Psalms 82). In this way a culture declines, becomes a civilisation and dies. The death of a cultural god means that the god will be withdrawn from its culture, having a decreasing influence (for a finite period of time), even though the god may appear sometimes (compare The Acts 16:9).

Metahistorical studies of Frank de Graaff, Dutch father of metahistory:

Inspired by Jewish thoughts, the cultural philosopher F. de Graaff, PhD, discovered the powers beyond European culture by careful investigation of the works European culture delivered.  

In 'Het Europees Nihilisme' (European Nihilism) the essence of the European Culture is interpreted as a mixture between the Greek Sungod Apollo and the Israelitic God Christ. Apollo provided truth and Christ mercy. 

In 'Als Goden Sterven' (when Gods die) the Christian God is distinguished from the Israelitic God. The Christian God mediates between the European culture and the Highest Divine Being, while the Jewish God is not an intermediary but the 'God of gods': the Highest Divine Being. This distinction is reflected in two different kinds of mercy: the mercy of the Christian Church acts as a mediator while the mercy of the God of gods works directly on individual persons, not via churches.

In 'Anno Domini 1000 - anno Domini 2000'  the last 1000 year of European history is explained as a decease and withdrawal of European cultural god. This god of the Western culture is incarnated in the German/Roman emperor Otto III, who sacrified himself for his culture to suspend a final judgement.

In 'Het Geheim van de Wereldgeschiedenis' (The Secret of World History) the key to understand world history is expounded in the Jewish story of the twins Jacob and Esau. The essence of Esau (exposed in Edom and Rome) is to conserve and use natural powers, while the essence of Jacob (exposed in Jewish prophets and religious reformations) is to open up the relation with the divine world.

In 'Jezus de Verborgene' (Jesus the Hidden One) the essence of the Jewish strategy ('apparent ruse') was carried through: Jesus as the fulfillment of the Jewish Thora publicly offered in vain the anti-Semite (Esau-inspired) Rome the opportunity to embrace the Jewish (Jacob-inspired) Israel.

In his book about Mozart's 'Die Zauberflöte' the movements of the Queen of the Night, the after-light of the Sunspirit, are accurately explained as the cultural context of Western Europe in which men and women may develop a three-fold essence in their relation. Allusion is made to a fair purification of fallen powers.

In 'Israël, Hellas, Rome' the elevation of the Greek culture by the wisdom of Diotima was brought to light. Alexander used this initiation to realize his highest destiny. The merit of Paul was to bring Hellenism back to the spirit of Alexander the Macedonian. When the Jewish principle became stronger in Christian Church, Rome worked out a 'ruse' too: the principle of Esau should get the exterior face of Jacob. Constantine converted to Christianity in the sign of the cross. In Western Europe the mediating cultural god was dignified under the patronage of the Roman Church as the crucified Christ. Thanks to the (few) Jewish elements left in Christianity, also Jesus Christ was dignified as Messiah. In Eastern Europe the Jewish elements were strengthened by the influence of Alexander and Paul: the protest against the principle of Esau increased.