By Norman Cohn
During this engrossing booklet, the writer of the vintage paintings The Pursuit of the Millennium investigates the origins of apocalyptic religion - the assumption in an ideal destiny, whilst the forces of excellent are positive over the forces of evil. Norman Cohn takes us again thousand years to the realm perspectives of historic Egypt, Mesopotamia, and India, the suggestions of Iranian and Jewish prophets and sages, and the earliest Christian imaginings of heaven in the world, and he illuminates a massive turning aspect within the background of human recognition. For this moment, corrected variation, the ultimate bankruptcy, on Zoroastrians, Jews and Christians, has been absolutely rewritten and prolonged.
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Extra resources for Cosmos, Chaos, and the World to Come: The Ancient Roots of Apocalyptic Faith
Temples and temple cult were there to ensure that collaboration was sustained, that cosmos was ceaselessly defended against the forces of chaos. A Near Eastern temple was in no way comparable with a Greek temple or a Christian church. It was not a place where believers congregated to worship, indeed the interior was not even accessible to ordinary folk. It was a place of mystery, where priests performed complicated rituals in the presence of the god alone. Moreover, an Egyptian temple was itself an embodiment of cosmos.
Long before there were any human beings, they inhabited the world they had shaped. It was not human beings but gods who invented irrigation and agriculture, and they invented them to meet their own requirements. Moreover, in the beginning all the gods except the four highest worked at constructing and maintaining the canals and at sowing and harvesting. It was only because they grew tired of these exacting labours and downed tools that An created mankind at all. Everyone recognised that the one essential function of human beings was to relieve the gods of their chores.
In every way the well-being of the kingdom depended on the king. The king was referred to as 'he who maintains the life of the country'. The presence of a devout king on the throne was felt to guarantee that the cycle of the seasons would proceed smoothly, that the crops would ripen on time and would be abundant, that the generations would succeed one another without interruption. But always it was the gods who prescribed the king's duties and granted him his powers. Thus Lipit-Eshtar (1934-24) had been chosen by the gods An, Enlil and Ninlil to ensure that there would be plenty of cereals, thus Enlil had appointed Iddin-Dagan (1974- 1954) to ensure that the people would have all the food and sweet water they needed.