About this blog

This Blog is named after an ancient gnoseological riddle which hints hidden, disseminated, omnipresent wisdom.
I invite you to search, listen and observe with me for "the word of tree, whisper of stone, and humming together of the abyss and stars."


An explanation of the title

The Title of this blog is actually a quotation from an ancient epos preserved on a cuneiform tablet (KTU 1.3.iii) dated circa 1200 BCE.
     It is a part of a message of god Baal to goddess Anat asking her to abandon her bellicose inclinations and to come to him in her more life-affirming form, so that they can build up together his palace (a metaphor for the orderliness of the Universe):

"Bury war in the earth,
set strife in the dust,
pour a libation into the midst of the earth,
honey from a jar into the midst of the field.
   Grasp your spear and your club;
   let your feet hasten to me,
   let your legs hurry to me.
For I have a word that I would say to you,
a message that I would repeat to you:
   A word of tree and whisper of stone,
   the sighing of the heavens to the earth,
   of the abyss to the stars, 
  I understand the thunder
  which the havens do not know,
  a word unknown to men,
  which the multitudes of the earth do not understand.
Come, and I shall reveal it to you,
in the midst of my divine mountain Ṣaphon,
in the sanctuary on the rock of my inheritance,
in the pleasant place of my victory.

I like this gnoseological riddle of disseminated and hidden knowledge and especially this notion that epistemology is essential for peace. 
     Centuries later similar ideas appeared in Psalm 19:2ff, Hosea 2:21ff, and even some hints in Paul's letter to Romans 8:18ff. The religious insight of this mytheme is clearly integral, although hidden part of our judeo-christian tradition.
     I believe that this ancient riddle remain the task before any curious person and I invite you to search and listen, observe and feel with me on following pages for the word of tree, whisper of stone, and humming together of the depths and heavens, the abyss and the stars.
P.S. June 2014
I just came across a biological and gnoseological model called Umwelt by its proponent Estonian biologist Jacob von Uexküll. It presents an alternative model of perceiving and understanding nature as the complex flow of signs and communication between all its individual living parts. Here is an English translation of one of his essays. 


Anonymous said...

I came here based on an ad I saw in the "Our Town" newspaper advertising a series of Lenten Lectures for Rutger's Church. I went to the website and found confirmation of the ad's content, including a citation for a "Co-Creatress" and "Mother Earth". These are not the sort of terms (both apparently referring to the same being) used in the Bible, but thought maybe it was some sort of effort to bring a Christian message to those that don't know the Gospel. But then I followed the Church's recommendation for this blog. I've never imagined that a Church would approvingly quote Baal. That really does not get me interested in your Church. In fact, it sounds rather Wiccan rather than Christian. I think you should remember the Source of the Gospel; nor mere add-ons and false gods.

Andrew Stehlik said...

Unsurprisingly you comment as anonymous.
But firs, before you take the role of the only defender of orthodoxy, get educated! As stated in the article - this baalistic disseminated knowledge is approvingly quoted by Psalm, prophet Hosea and hinted by apostle Paul!
In another blog entry I show, how the Hebrew god YHWH took over many attributes and functions of Baal. If you sing Psalm 29, you are "de facto" singing baalistic Psalm!
Similarly Psalm 20 has almost verbatim Canaanite/Egyptian parallel (papyrus Amherst 63.XI.11-19). Most likely the Egyptian psalm is older - biblical psalmists quotes a pagan hymn replacing only the name of deity - putting the LORD (YHWH) in place of original Horus.

You might be surprised how many "foreign" or "Canaanite" gods and goddesses are present in the Bible. And they are not only rejected and disproved, they are also incorporated and subsumed in many different manners. (That is also one of the local articles in this blog.)
While I say this, it does not mean that I (or we at Rutgers Church) worship those ancient deities, but we want to learn and be educated about the origins and roots of our faith.
There is so much more richness and history to Christian faith than your artificial and simplistic (inquisition-like) dichotomy of orthodoxy against heterodoxy, the only-right-religion against all those other religions which all are just wrong, abominable idolatries.
So, my advice - get educated and also sign your comments.

Anonymous said...

I post again in response to your quick and thoughtful reply to my earlier message. Sorry that this is somewhat delayed in delivery.

First, yes I am posting anonymously. It's an option that you provided and I prefer. I get plenty of spam as it is. In any case, it doesn't affect the heart of what I stated. As you noted, I am trying to take the position of orthodoxy, which you reject. But I don't think your response proves that by any means.

I did look up your provided Biblical references. Neither convincing nor persuasive. There seems no proof that the Hosea and Psalms statements are equivalents (much less direct quotes) of the Baal statements. A fact you acknowledge in your text. The appeal to Paul being a Baal-friendly source is far less supported by the actual quote as you also acknowledge. I find all of the citations to be statements of God's glory and not a celebration of nature. In your search for 'hidden knowledge' you may be reading too much into any similarities. In any event, remember that there are plenty of statements in the Bible where Satan (or the accuser) quotes Scripture or relevant issues. (Look at Jesus's temptation in the wilderness in Mark, Matthew and Luke plus the Book of Job.) But I have yet to see any Biblical (remember, I'm supposing I'm orthodox so I'll limit my quotes) endorsement of those quotations as appeals to authority. For example, Jesus responded to the devil's Biblical quotes with other/better Biblical quotes.

Long, long ago I did do some studies of the Bible at a school of religion at a major university (a state university, in fact, with no links to any religious institution). I learned the New Criticism of the times and ultimately realized that there was a real willingness to believe that everything was derivative and there is no appeal to sola scriptura nor Divine revelation accepted. I don't accept that. If you don't believe that the Gospel nor the Bible is based on some degree of revelation, I don't see how you can claim anything is true. I do note that you don't seem to reject any revelation, but your 'exploration' seems too similar to that New Criticism process for me to think of it as anything more than a...well...derivation. A lot of it I rejected long ago as appeals for tenure and for approval of the world. That school of thought contained a lot of hints of hatred for at least the concept of God, if not atheism which I do not attribute to you by any means.

Your response brought up one point that I deeply regret: I should not have said anything relating you to Wicca. That was unfair of me. I apologize for that as I certainly don't have any proof that you do worship other dieties. Of course, you give as good as you got stating that I'm simplistic, inquistion-minded, ill-educated, and worship abominable idolatries. Hey, I'm orthodox ;-) and we get called all sorts of things so I'm okay.

Your advice to me was to get educated is countered by my call to you to remember and to preach the Gospel.

You also wanted me to sign my name. I've already addressed that and I'm a stubborn man so I'll continue.

Andrew Stehlik said...

Dear Anonymous, thank you for a thoughtful and extensive response.
Respectfully I will not engage in a thorough exegesis of KTU 1.3.iii, Psalm 19, Hosea 2 and Romans 8 - it will be for another article, at least. Surely you can yourself discern that there is a common theme of inanimate objects (sky, earth...) and un-eloquent (whole creation) communicating hidden messages. My very point was that while KTU associates this epistemological riddle with Baal, the Psalm ascribes it to God (in Hebrew El not even Elohim!), and Hosea to the LORD (YHWH - probably by replacing YHWH for Baal).

Personally, I do not find higher biblical criticism threatening my faith (or anyone’s faith). That is what I was thoroughly educated in the Protestant Faculty (Seminary) in Prague. The Higher Biblical Criticism only shows to us the complexity, diversity and beauty of our Judeo-Christian tradition. I am convinced that Christians cannot close their eyes and pretend that outside world does not exist, that ancient history did not happen, that ancient texts on cuneiform tablets and papyri were not written, found, deciphered and understood, that archaeologists are not finding artifacts and inscriptions...
When I read and contemplate the biblical text I am (and I always have been) attracted by contradictions, slight dissonances, departures from the expected, signs of non-orthodoxy (that is how biblical scholars work). I love investigating fringes and margins, those places are so full of life. There is so much more to life than orthodoxy! Interestingly, Jesus also intentionally went to margins and fringes. In his case it was not primarily interest in scholarship, but his interest and love of people, he did not play it safe, he risked for the sake of those excluded and marginalised.

I guess that I am also predisposed to venture and investigate unorthodox positions by my personal faith roots - as already hinted, I am Czech Protestant by birth. As you may know, Jan Hus - Czech theologian and reformer - was accused of heresy and burned on stake in 1415. My even closer faith ancestors from “Unitas Fratrum” (Czech and Moravian Brothers - today’s Moravian Church) were severely persecuted for centuries for being non-orthodox or outright heretics. As you can see - taking and defending unorthodox positions and provoking the orthodoxy is deep in my faith genes ;-)

And I would also like to apologise. I regret accusing you implicitly for being simplistic and uneducated. That was an attack “ad hominem” and not argument “ad rem”. I hope we can meet one day and talk some more.
It is Sunday morning, so excuse me now, I need to go and prepare to preach yet another unorthodox sermon ;-)

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