By Tony Mariot
This will be a lengthy response I will refer to as Two Coins for the Boatman. When we think of what is behind a given faith, there are many aspects of faith that are convoluted with other beliefs systems such as the Greeks, Egyptians, Islam, Catholicism, the Norse Religion and others. There are far too many religious systems to attempt to address them in this writing, but of all the oldest organized religious systems, we can find many correlations with the major organized belief systems and Christianity which dates back more than 4000 years.
What is interesting of note, is that all these systems, arguably appear to quote from the Bible, or at the very least adopt philosophy from the Bible while the Bible does not quote from any other system of belief.
Polytheism is the belief in many gods and is practiced by a number of societies, including the Sumerians, Ancient Egyptians, Ancient Greeks, Ancient Romans, Ancient Chinese, Celts, and others. Though all of these societies worshiped differently, polytheists tend to have similar types of deities, like creator deities, water deities, mother goddesses, love deities and so on. Isis was a mother deity in Ancient Egypt, while Ninsun served a similar role in Sumerian culture, as did Gaia in Greek culture. Similarly, the role of a water deity was portrayed by Mazu in China, Poseidon in Greece, Neptune in Rome, and Lir in the Celtic tradition.
Hinduism is considered the oldest organized religion and the third largest, and the major religion of India. It has no known founder, as it was organized from a variety of traditional beliefs from different cultures and mythologies. The roots of Hinduism are thought to date back 5,000 years. Hinduism has two great theistic movements: Vishnu called Vaishnavism, and Shiva or Shaivism. It advocates commitment to dharma, an ideal way of life. Hindus, or believers of Hinduism, believe in karma, or the force of one’s actions, and reincarnation, or the passage of a soul from one body to another body.
Judaism, the religion of the Jews is considered the basis for Christianity and Islam. With a history of over 4,000 years, Judaism is based on monotheism, the belief in one God.
The Hebrew Bible, or the Old Testament in Christianity, is the fundamental source of Jewish belief, notably its first five books collectively called the Torah, the Pentateuch, the Law or the Five Books of Moses. Judaism follows a system of law, called Halachah, which regulates personal values, family relationships, social responsibility, and civil and criminal justice.
Buddhism is the religion founded by Siddhartha Gautama, the Buddha or the awakened one, in the 6th century BCE. It was the most successful religious movement derived from Hinduism and eventually spread throughout India and other Asian countries. Buddhism can be divided into two main branches: the “Theravada” or “Way of the Elders,” and the more liberal “Mahayana”, or “Great Vehicle.” Buddhist teaching is centered on Four Truths:
Suffering or Duhkha.
Desire as the cause of suffering.
Suffering can end.
Existence of a way to end suffering.
Jainism, founded by Mahavira in the 6th century BCE. The followers of the faith consider Mahavira as the last of the “Tirthamkaras”, which are the 24 founders of the religion. The philosophy of Jainism is centered on the belief that every living thing has a soul, therefore it promotes non-injury to all life-forms. Jainism is divided into two sects: the Svetambara and the Digambara. The Svetambaras wear white clothes, while the Digambaras go naked. Jain monks wear cloths over their mouths to prevent them from unconsciously breathing in and accidentally causing injury to a living thing. Yes, it’s that serious to them.
Taoism is thought to have been founded around the 3rd or 4th century BCE, which is when the primary text of Taoism, the Daodejing, dates back to. The author of the Daodejing, Laozi, is thought to have lived around the same time as Confucius, the founder of Confucianism. Those who practice Taoism try to live in accordance with the “way” or Dao, which is the source and flow of everything. The main concepts in Taoism are “Wu Wei” the process of doing things effortlessly or non-intentionally, and the “Three Treasures,” which are compassion, moderation, and humility. This religion is connected with many physical practices, like qigong and tai chi, as well as the concept of yin-yang, which is the belief that opposites are actually completely interconnected.
Other very old religions include Zoroastrianism, Confucianism, mystery cults, and paganism. Zoroastrianism is thought to have been founded around the 6th century BCE and is notable for being one of the first religions to use the concept of the struggle between good and evil. Confucianism, which is more of a philosophy than a religion, was founded by Confucius in the 5th century BCE. It assumes that there is an ideal structure and hierarchy of the world and that people have a moral obligation to fulfill their roles in that hierarchy.
Catholics consider themselves Christians, but the advent of the sanctification and praying to dead canonized saints by the church is outside the biblical teachings of Christ and is tantamount to idolatry by definition. The advent of a Pope as the high priest rather than Christ, some may suggest, as did Martin Luther in his 95 thesis, in and of itself disqualifies Catholics as Christians.
Christianity hangs on the resurrection of Christ when Jesus Dies on the Cross the Temple Veil was torn, which was symbolic of the end of the priesthood.
(Matthew 27:51 the veil) (John 19:30 it is finished)
Immediately after Jesus shouted “tetelestai” and died physically, the veil of the Temple was “torn in two from top to bottom. “Tetelestai” is Greek for “It is finished.”
What is significant about this veil tearing is what it symbolized both spiritually and tangibly. The veil of the Temple was a huge curtain (60 feet long, 30 feet high, and about 4 inches thick; composed of 72 squares sewn together; that formed the barrier between the Shekinah, which is to say dwelling place of God, or where Gods presence appeared in the Temple of Jerusalem. The veil was so heavy that it required 300 men to lift it.
This veil (along with all of the Temple details) represented the separation between God and humanity because of our sins. No one was permitted to pass through the veil into God’s presence except for the High Priest once a year, the Day of Atonement, with the blood of an unblemished goat for the sins of the people. (Hebrews 10:20)
Jesus told his disciples that mankind would be able to speak to God directly after he had died and went to heaven. That they could ask God for whatever they wanted without having to go through a high priest, simply pray in His name and God would hear them and grant them their petitions directly. (John 16:23-27)
The Levitical priests continued their service for another forty years after Christ resurrection, but they were really out of business from the moment of this veil tearing and Christ resurrection. This event, in part explains why so many priests came to Christ in the days immediately following his resurrection. (Acts 6:7)
With Jesus’ death, the whole Old Covenant system of relating to God through priests and ritual sacrifices was set aside. (Hebrews 10:1-14)
In this regard, the advent of a Pope by the Catholic Church sets the church outside of the dictates of Christianity.
Notwithstanding, some of the similarities of the major belief systems demonstrate how certain aspects of other faiths are hybrids of Christianity. It is the oral history that acts as the basis for biblical writings, which provided a substantive source for the vast divergence of other religious systems.
Biblical text are said to be inspired by God, which goes beyond the oral history, it means that God Himself spoke to those who wrote these passages and therefore the inspiration is evidenced in the transcendence of the writings over thousands of years. (2 Timothy 3:16–17, 2 Peter 1:20-21)
A criticism about the inspiration of the Bible is that the New Testament Scriptures quote, paraphrase and refer to other non-canonical works called Pseudepigrapha, which are Jewish writings from Hellenistic and other non-Biblical cultures that are considered to be untrustworthy writings from unknown authors. These works date around c 300 BCE to 300 CE. The fact is there is no evidence that these assertions have any conclusive theological basis in fact.
Biblical accounts are in many ways a fundamental springboard or basis for many beliefs that if not specifically quoting from the bible itself, take scripture out of context to build a belief system, as with the more modern belief system of the Mormon Churches Book of Mormon, Doctrines and Covenants and Pearl of Great Price. (Revelation 22:18-19)
This is not to say that ALL older religions are quoting the Bible, that would not be a fact nor in many instances even possible. Moses does not predate Ancient Egypt or many other cultures, his writings insert a global covering of the history of the beginning of all things, while Moses himself is predated by Abraham who is referred to as the father of the faith, which is what underpins the philosophy of Judaism and Christianity. That being said, there are many who propose that the bible takes from other belief systems, but there is no historical, theological or tangible basis for this assertion as well.
Christianity and the monotheistic belief in a single God predates all belief systems if you consider the origins of the faith as depicted by Moses and the account of Adam in the garden. The advent of the first sacrifices after the exile of Adam from the garden bring into perspective the first prophecy and the promise of a savior. (Genesis 3:15, Genesis. 4:1-11).
The period of Genesis speaks to the origin of man and as such sets the stage for all other beliefs that are taken from it.
In philosophy, religion, mythology, fiction, the afterlife, life after death or the hereafter is the concept of a heavenly and separately, a terrible realm of sorts, whether physical or transcendental. In religion, transcendence refers to the aspect of God’s nature and power, which is wholly independent of the material universe, beyond all physical laws where God is fully present in the physical world and accessible in various ways. In the religious experience, transcendence is a state of being that has overcome the limitations of physical existence and has become independent of it or one’s existence in the afterlife.
In the afterlife, the essential part of an individual’s identity or consciousness continues to reside after the death of the body in the individual’s physical lifetime.
The essential aspect of the individual that lives on after death in Christianity, is the spirit that constitutes the entire soul of an individual, which carries with it and confers personal identity.
Belief in an afterlife is in contrast to the belief in oblivion or annihilation after death.
There are many views of the afterlife throughout history. In Greek mythology, Zeus is the god of sky and thunder and the father of the gods and men who ruled the Olympians of Mount Olympus. Olympus was the home of the Twelve Olympian gods, Zeus, Hera, Poseidon, Demeter, Athena, Apollo, Artemis, Ares, Aphrodite, Hephaestus, and Hermes.
The physical place of Olympus is thought to have formed itself after the gods defeated the Titans in the Titan War. The Titans were a race of powerful gods, descendants of Gaia (Earth) and Uranus (Sky) that ruled during the Golden Age, which refers to the first in a sequence of four or five Ages of Man in which the Golden Age is first, followed by the Silver, Bronze, Heroic, and then the present Iron age which is the period of decline.
The “Golden Age” denotes a period of peace, harmony, stability, and prosperity. During this age of peace and harmony, humans did not have to work to feed themselves because the earth provided food in abundance. They lived to a very old age maintaining a youthful appearance, eventually dying peacefully.
The Titans were immortal giants of incredible strength and were the first pantheon of Greek gods and goddesses.
In the first generation there were twelve Titans, the males were Oceanus, Hyperion, Coeus, Cronus, Cirus, and Lapetus. The females or Titanesses were Mnemosyne, Tethys, Theia, Phoebe, Rhea, and Themis. The second generation of Titans consisted of Hyperion’s children Eos, Helios, and Selene; Coeus’s daughters Leto and Asteria; Lapetus’s children Atlas, Prometheus, Epimetheus, and Menoetius; Oceanus’s daughter Metis; and Crius’ sons Astraeus, Pallas, and Perses.
Cronus was the leader and the youngest of the first generation of Titans, he overthrew his father and ruled during the mythological Golden Age, until he was overthrown by his own son Zeus and imprisoned in Tartarus.
In Greek mythology c.1100–800 BC onward, Tartarus is both a god and a place in the underworld. Tartarus is also the first-existing entity from which the Light and the cosmos were born. As a place, Tartarus is the deep abyss that is used as a dungeon of torment and suffering for the wicked and as the prison for the Titans. Tartarus is as far below Hades as the earth is below the heavens.
Tartarus is more closely akin to the bottomless pit in Christianity as described in the New Testament of the Bible as a place for Satan and fallen Angels to reside until the day of Judgment (Jude 6, Revelation 9:1-2 & 11, Rev. 20:1-3). There is one biblical exception to anyone being released from the bottomless pit, Satan is released out of this prison after the thousand-year reign of Christ on Earth (Rev 20:6-7). In addition, the bottomless pit, unlike Tartarus is located in a secret physical location on the Earth known only to God and the Angels he has entrusted the knowledge to. (Rev 20:1-3)
Around 400 BCE, Tartarus took on the distinction as a place where souls were judged after death and where the wicked received punishment. In this respect, Tartarus becomes akin to Hell in Christianity or more specifically, the area that surrounds the entrance to Hells gates. (Psalm 9:17, 55:15, 139:8, Isaiah 5:14, 14:12-19, Ezekiel 31:15-16, Mathew 5:22, 10:28, 18:9, Mark 9:43-47, Luke 16:22-31, 2 Peter 2:4, Revelation 1:18, 20:13-14).
Hell has a couple of applications in Christianity as the place of torment and as Paradise, Acts 2:31, 2:27. There is a Biblical account referred to as the rich man and Lazarus story as told by Jesus Himself (Luke 16:22-31), in this encounter Hell at one time, prior to the resurrection of Christ, had two distinct sections, Paradise and a place of torment that existed in proximity. In this description, a person’s soul, spirit, and memories remain intact, both in Paradise and in Hell.
This advent of Hell changes after the resurrection of Christ, hell expands and Paradise disappears and is replaced by the dead going straight to Heaven bypassing paradise. Evidence of this transition was depicted after the immediate resurrection of Christ with the dead rising and walking about in full view of the population. (Isaiah 5:14, Matthew 27:51-53). Notwithstanding, the Catholic Church still teaches the advent of a paradise and used it as a means of generating revenue for the church as depicted in Martin Luther’s 95 thesis referring to indulgences.
Zeus is the child of Cronus and Rhea, and the youngest of his siblings. In most traditions Zeus was married to Hera and had children including Athena, Apollo, Artemis, Hermes, Persephone (by Demeter), Dionysus, Perseus, Heracles/Hercules, Helen of Troy, Minos, and the Muses (by Mnemosyne); by Hera, he is also said to have fathered Ares, Hebe and Hephaestus.
Zeus had managed to force his father to release his siblings, after their release the six younger gods challenged the elder gods for power in a divine war. The war lasted for ten years and ended with the victory of the younger gods.
Following their victory, Hades and his two brothers, Poseidon and Zeus, drew lots for realms to rule.
Zeus got the sky, Poseidon the seas, and Hades received the underworld, the unseen realm where the souls of the dead go upon leaving the world as well as any and all things beneath the earth.
Persephone held an ancient role as the queen of the Underworld, the goddess of death.
She was the daughter of Zeus and was married to Hades and she was the queen of the underworld who carries into effect the curses of men upon the souls of the dead, along with her husband Hades. Persephone commanded Charon to be the ferryman of Hades where he carries the souls of the newly deceased across the rivers Styx and Acheron into the underworld. The river formed the boundary between Earth and the underworld, dividing the world of the living from the world of the dead. Hades is also ruler of the River Styx.
There were five rivers in the infernal regions of the underworld, the Rivers Styx, Phlegethon, Acheron, Lethe and Cocytus which all converge at the center of the underworld on a great marsh, which is also referred to as the Styx.
The Greek god Hermes, was the messenger of the gods who would escort the soul of a person to the underworld. Hermes would leave the soul on the banks of the River Styx, once across the Styx the soul would be judged by one of the three sons of Zeus who were the judges in Hades, Aeacus, son of Zeus and Aegina, a daughter of the river-god Asopus, Rhadamanthus the son of Zeus and Europa and Minos also a son of Zeus and Europa.
The similarities in Christianity are represented by the Trinity of God the Father, God the Son who is Jesus and the Holy Spirit. One God in three persons, the three persons are distinct, yet are one in substance, essence, and nature. In this context, “nature” is what one is, while a “person” is who one is. The work of creation and grace is seen as a single operation common to all three divine persons in which each demonstrates what is proper to him in the Trinity, so that all things are “from the Father”, “through the Son” and “in the Holy Spirit”. The Father is NOT the Son or Holy Spirit, The Son is NOT the Father or Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit is NOT the Father or the Son.
The Shield of the Trinity.
In Christianity there is a final judgment where God is on a Great White Throne with Jesus sits on His right-hand side. Those who sided against God and Jesus in life are ultimately cast into a Lake of Fire by Angels. (Rev. 20:11-15, Matthew 20:20-23, 25:31-41, Acts 2:30-33, Matthew 13:41-43, 49-50).
HEAVEN AND HELL
In Greek mythology, the soul would be sent to either Elysium, Tartarus or the Asphodel Fields. Elysium was initially a separate place from Hades and was reserved for those who were related to the gods. Elysium later expanded to include the righteous and the heroic. These souls would remain in Elysium after death and live a blessed and happy life indulging in whatever employment they had enjoyed in life. The Elysian Fields consisted of green fields, valleys, and mountains, everyone there was peaceful and contented, and the Sun always shined there.
Elysium is similar to Heaven in Christianity which has mansions and rewards given to Christians by Jesus at the judgment seat of Christ. An exception in Heaven from Elysium is there is no job or work in Heaven. Heaven is a large part of the Christian faith, in the Bible, there are 691 verses that speak of Heaven. (John 14:2, 2 Corinthians 5:10, Revelation 22:1-5)
In contrast, Tartarus was the deep abyss that was used as a dungeon of torment and suffering for the wicked and as the prison for the Titans. Tartarus was for people that blasphemed against the gods or were simply rebellious and consciously evil. In Tartarus, the soul would be punished by being burned in lava or stretched on racks. Tartarus as the final place of judgment is akin to the Lake of Fire in Christianity because the Lake of Fire is the final judgment where all the wicked, fallen Angels, Satan, the Anti Christ, the false Prophet and the inhabitants of Hell and the physical place of Hell itself are cast in to the Lake after the final judgment of God. (Revelation 19: 20, 20:9-15, 21:8)
The Asphodel Fields, was a place where ordinary people were sent after death, it is also referred to as the Fields of Punishment because a section of the fields gave harsher punishments than that given at the Asphodel fields. The Asphodel Fields were for those whose sins equaled their goodness, or those who were indecisive in their lives, ones who never took a side, as in Christianity where Jesus rejects the lukewarm (Revelation 3:15-16). The Fields of Punishment were for people that had sinned often, but not so much as to be deserving of Tartarus.
This divide between these fields is akin to Paradise and Hell of Christianity, which existed in proximity with a great gulf dividing them, prior to the resurrection of Christ in Christianity. (Luke 16:19-31)
DEGREES OF PUNISHMENT AND REWARDS
The aspect of degrees of punishment and rewards in Greek Mythology is also present in Biblical text.
In the book of Leviticus 20:8-27 God gives Moses rules that would govern the children of Israel. Cursing your parents, adultery, incest among mothers, sons, fathers, and daughters-in-law, homosexuality, communing with familiar spirits and sex with animals are all punishable by death.
Other sins like incest with a sister or seeing your sister naked, having sex with a woman during her menstrual cycle, sex with an aunt, sleeping with your brother’s wife, don’t carry death as a penalty. This suggests that God Himself sees sin in a manner of degree.
Venial sins are minor sins, white lies, completely forgivable, like telling your kid to say you’re not at home when you really are, to someone on the phone.
Unintentional sins are those sins you are not aware of, like borrowing someone’s pen, and walking off with it absent mindedly.
Presumptuous sins which are intentional
Mortal sins which are unto death, bringing judgment on yourself (Galatians 5:16-21; Rev 14:9-10).
In Christianity, Jesus spoke of degrees of punishment and rewards: (Matthew 11:22-24, Matt. 10:14-15, Matt. 26:24, Matt 5:12, Luke 6:23, Luke 20:46-47, John 19:11)
COINS FOR THE BOATMAN
In Greek mythology, those who died an honorable death would get a coin referred to as Charon’s Obol, a Greek coin called an Obolus or they would use a Danake coin from the Persian Empire, this coin was placed on the eyes, in or on the mouth.
Coins like these were given to be given to Charon to pay for passage across the Styx.
In the event one could travel back across to Styx to the world of the living, they would need the second coin to give Charon for their return. When a warrior died, like Achilles for example, two coins were placed on their eyes, hoping they would return from the dead.
In a trip to the underworld, heroes such as Hercules, Orpheus, Aeneas, Dante, Dionysus and Psyche journeyed to the underworld and returned alive.
This is akin to Christianity’s rapture where the dead rejoin with their bodies, and more broadly, go back to heaven and return to earth to witness Armageddon and participate in the thousand-year reign with Christ on earth.
(1 Thessalonians 4:13-17, 1 Corinthians 15:51-54, Revelation 19:11-21, 20:3-6)
The souls of those not given a proper burial or those who were not given coins on their corpse could not pay the fee to Charon. These had to wander the shores of the River Styx for one hundred years. All the other dead that wait at the Styx for Charon would stand near a place where the wrongly convicted and those committing suicide had to reside with no hope of ever crossing the Styx. For those who could not cross, watching others cross the Styx is part of their torment.
Today, any examples of these coins in any denominations are considered some of the most rarest and valuable grave goods of antiquity. Grave goods are the items buried along with a body.
Biblical accounts predate Greek mythology, which covers the periods c.1100 BC to 800 BCE. The Judaic faith starts 1000 years earlier with Abram who lived around 2100 BCE in what is now modern day Iraq.
As a practical matter, the basis of the Christian faith starts with Adam and his sons giving the first sacrifices for the remission of sins, sacrosanct to the first prophesy and promise of a savior Genesis 3:15, but more broadly its emphasized with the account of Abram, where the promise of God to the Israelites begins, through Ismael and Isaac, the sons of Abraham.
The largest Abrahamic religions are Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Christians refer to Abraham as the father of the faith. Romans 4:11-12, there is an Islamic religious term, Millat Ibrahim (which means faith of Ibrahim) which suggest that Islam sees itself as having practices tied to the traditions of Abraham.
Jewish tradition claims descendance from Abraham, they follow his practices as the first of the three spiritual “fathers” or biblical Patriarchs being: Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
Abraham is recorded in the Law (first five books of the bible) as the ancestor of the Israelites through his son Isaac, born to Sarah through a promise made by God in Genesis 17:16. All variants of Judaism through the early 20th century were founded by Israelite descendants.
Most Christians are considered gentiles or non-Jews, who consider themselves “grafted” into the family of God, who are the chosen people of God (originally Jews only) under the New Covenant. The vast majority of Jews are not Messianic Jews or followers of Christ. (Romans 11:17-24)
In the Islamic tradition Muhammad as an Arab, is descended from Abraham’s son Ishmael. Jewish tradition also equates the descendants of Ishmael as Ishmaelites, with Arabs as the descendants of Isaac through his son Jacob, who was also later known as Israel, originating the term Israelites or children of Israel. (Genesis 32:28)
To the Jews, Abraham and his wife Sarah are the first Jews, the founding patriarchs of the children of Israel. According to Jewish tradition, Abraham was the first post-Flood prophet to reject idolatry. (Genesis 12:2, Genesis 17:7-8)
Christians view Abraham as a spiritual, as well as a physical ancestor of Jesus. For Christians, Abraham is a spiritual forebear as well as rather than a direct ancestor depending on the interpretation of the circumcision. (Romans 4:9-12)
If the Abrahamic covenant is reinterpreted so as to be defined by faith in Christ rather than by any biological descent, or one could view it both by faith as well as a direct ancestor; in any case, the emphasis is placed on faith is the only requirement for the Abrahamic Covenant to apply.
In Genesis 12 and 15, God grants Abraham land and descendants but does not place any stipulations (unconditional). By contrast, in Genesis 17 the covenant of the circumcision is applied (conditional). Circumcision is to be the permanent sign of this everlasting covenant with Abraham and his male descendants and is known as the “brit-milah”. (Genesis 17:9-14)
Covenants in biblical times were often sealed by severing or cutting in half an animal. The implication was that the party who breaks the covenant will suffer a similar fate as the animal. The removal of the foreskin of men symbolically represents a sealing of the covenant with God and men. Covenants could only be made with men.
The specific covenant of Abraham was to make Abraham a great nation and to bless him and make his name great so that he will be a blessing to others, to bless those who bless him and curse those who curse him and all people on earth would be blessed through Abraham. (Genesis 12:1-3)
To give Abraham’s descendants all the land from the river of Egypt to the Euphrates. (Genesis 15:18-21) Later, this land came to be referred to as the Promised Land or the Land of Israel.
The children of Israel were made slaves by the Egyptians and was prophetically spoken to Abraham hundreds of years in advance. (Genesis 15:13-15) This slavery last for 400 years and introduces the children of Israel to the perpetual idolatry of the Egyptians.
The Ancient Egyptian’s had complicated polytheistic beliefs, which is to say they believed in multiple gods. The afterlife played an important role in Ancient Egypt, its belief system is one of the earliest known in recorded history.
When the body died, parts of its soul and personality would go to the Kingdom of the Dead. Heaven or Paradise is referred to as the Fields of Aaru, or the Egyptian reed fields.
A concept later adopted by the Romans who at one time referred to Heaven as the field of reeds.
This is often depicted as a person wondering through wheat fields until they see their loved ones, who then run into each others arms and embrace.
The god Osiris demanded work as restitution in the afterlife for the protection he provided during ones lifetime, so statuettes were placed in the tombs to serve as substitutes for the deceased.
Arriving at one’s reward in the afterlife required a sin-free heart and the ability to recite the spells, passwords and formulae of the Book of the Dead. After a series of test issued by the gods, if one survived, you would come to a place called the Hall of Two Truths. The deceased’s heart was weighed against the Shu feather of truth and justice taken from the headdress of the goddess Ma’at.
If the heart was lighter than the feather, they could pass on into Paradise, but if it were heavier they would be devoured by the demon Ammit who was known as the devourer or soul-eater. Ammit was a female demon in ancient Egyptian religion with a body that was part lion, part hippopotamus and part crocodile—the three largest “man-eating” animals known to ancient Egyptians.
Egyptians also believed that being mummified and put in a sarcophagus (an ancient Egyptian “coffin” carved with complex symbols and designs, as well as pictures and hieroglyphs from the book of the dead) was the only way to have an afterlife. Only if the corpse had been properly embalmed and entombed in a Mastaba, could the dead live again.
A Mastaba was a flat-roofed rectangular structure that marked a burial place. Mastaba’s were constructed out of mud-bricks (from the Nile River) or stone. The Book of the Dead was placed in the tomb with the body as well as food, jewelry, and ‘curses’.
They sometimes place the book in the opening of the mouth, like the coins for Charon in Greek mythology.
BOOK OF THE DEAD
The Book of the Dead was written by the priest or scribes of the Pharaoh, the incantations were designed to hide the sins of the Pharaoh from the gods during a series of test they must pass in the afterlife. The advent of confession by the Catholic Church is adopted from this exercise. Although there is no reference to reincarnation in the Talmud or any prior writings, reincarnation is recognized as being part and parcel of Jewish tradition. Within the Bible itself, the idea of reincarnation is implied in what Christians call the Rapture, where the spirit and soul rejoin the body after death and ascends back to Heaven. (1 Thessalonians 4:13-17, 1 Corinthians 15:50-54)
Mainstream Christianity professes belief in the Nicene Creed, Christian eschatology is concerned with death, an intermediate state, which is the existence between one’s death and the resurrection, Heaven, Hell, the Second Coming of Christ, the resurrection of the dead, a rapture, a tribulation, the Millennium, end of the world, the last judgment, a new heaven and a new earth, and the ultimate consummation of all of God’s purposes for man.
Eschatological or end times passages are found in many places in the Bible, especially Isaiah, Daniel, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Matthew 24, Matthew 25, and the Book of Revelation. Although punishments are part of the Christian concepts of the afterlife, there is also punishment during one’s lifetime for sins as well.
The Book of the Dead is in direct contrast to the view of Christianity in many ways, beyond the polytheistic view, it suggest that God can be deceived which is a singular distinction of the Egyptian view of the afterlife. Most Christians deny that entry into Heaven can be earned, rather it is a gift that is solely God’s to give through his unmerited grace and mercy. (Ephesians 2:8-9)
However, not all Christian sects accept this doctrine, creating many controversies on grace, free will and the idea of predestination espoused by Calvinist. Predestination is the belief that God decides in advance who will be saved and as a result, there is nothing one could do to change the outcome, however, this is not in accordance with the orthodox Christian theology.
Christianity depicts a sharp distinction, souls receive salvation from the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ of Nazareth, those who accept Him as their savior will live in Heaven for an interim period, be rewarded for their work on earth, experience the rapture, witness Armageddon, experience the millennium reign of Christ on earth and the final judgment.
(Salvation- John 3:12-18, Acts 4:10-12, Romans 10:9-13, Rewards-Romans 14:10-12, 2Corinthians 5:10, Rapture-1 Thessalonians 4:13-17, 1 Corinthians 15:50-54, Armageddon-Revelation 19:10-21, Millennium-Revelation 20:4-6, Final Judgment-Revelation 20:8-15)
During the fifth Egyptian dynasty (2494 – 2345 BC) the Egyptian religion identified itself with the midday sun and the god Ra. The major religious center of Ra was a place called Heliopolis, where Ra was identified with the local sun-god Amun who was a local deity of Thebes and later known as Amun-Ra. He was also seen as the first god and the originator of the Ennead, a group of nine gods in Egyptian mythology.
The Ennead consisted of the god Atum, his children Shu and Tefnut, their children Geb and Nut and their children Osiris, Isis, Set and Nephthys. A lot like the Titans and their children, which came to known as the Olympians, which is similar to Christianity where God has a Son in Jesus, only different in that Jesus is not a god created through any union of another god.
Jesus is a being as with God and the Holy Spirit having no beginning and no end, one who exists from the beginning as God does.
Ra was eventually merged with the god Horus and is depicted with the head of a falcon or a hawk. He was thought to rule all parts of the created world, the sky, the earth, and the underworld. He was worshipped as the creator god himself and most directly and specifically by his followers at Heliopolis.
Heliopolis was one of the oldest cities of ancient Egypt and the capital of Lower Egypt known as Ta-Mehu which means “land of papyrus.” It was divided into twenty districts called nomes, the first of which was at el-Lisht. Lower Egypt was mostly undeveloped scrubland filled with all types of plant life. This area is now found at the north-east edge of Cairo.
Ra was thought to travel on two solar boats called the “Mandjet” the Boat of Millions of Years. These boats took him on his journey through the sky and the Duat, which is the underworld of Egypt.
When Ra traveled in his sun boat he was accompanied by a number of other gods, sometimes by members of the Ennead. The Mesektet, or the Night boat, would carry Ra through the underworld and back towards the east in preparation for his rebirth.
These aspects associated with Ra represented the sun rising as the rebirth and renewal of Ra and his role as the creator correlates with salvation in Christianity and becoming born again by accepting Jesus as one’s savior, in addition to the advent of the rejoining with ones physical body in the rapture prior to the tribulation. The resurrection of Christ in a glorified body and reigning in Heaven with glory is all is akin to the aspect rebirth. Notwithstanding, the rebirth of mankind in the biblical story of Noah and the flood.
(1 Thessalonians 4:13-17, Revelation 3:10, Matthew 19:28, Genesis 6:7-17)
There are many merges of Ra with other gods in Egyptian religion, as well as outside Egypt in Ancient Libya and Nubia. Through these associations, he was known as Zeus Ammon and came to be identified with Zeus in Ancient Greece.
All these associations of Ra within the subcultures of Egyptians are what give Ra the attribution of the creator God. But none more than when Ra was in the underworld, there he merged with Osiris, the god of the dead, and through it, Ra became the god of the dead as well. In this regard, the similarities of the religious beliefs of the Egyptians corresponds with the Greeks and the River Styx.
THE ISLAMIC FAITH
There are many aspects of other religions that track with the Islamic faith, Islam teaches the advent of a literal Hell for those who disobey God and commit gross sin, Christianity supports this aspect as well. Those who obey and submit to God will be rewarded with their own place in Paradise, which is not supported in Christianity, but both agree that sinners will be punished by fire.
There are also many other forms of punishment depending on the sin committed; in Islam Hell is divided into numerous levels as in Greek Mythology.
Those who worship and remember God are promised eternal life in a physical and spiritual Paradise where Heaven is divided into seven levels, with the highest level of Paradise being the reward for those who have been most virtuous, like the prophets, and those killed while fighting for Allah in holy wars (i.e. jihad). This is akin to concepts of the Elysium fields of the Greeks with the exception of jihads.
Christianity also introduces various levels of Heaven, not simply the three levels of Heaven as depicted by Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:2 being the sky, space and the place where God dwells. In the Apocryphal book of Second Enoch there are ten levels of Heavens described.
The Second book of Enoch is an ancient Jewish religious writing attributed to Enoch, the great-grandfather of Noah.
It is not part of the biblical canon but it is regarded as canonical by the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, an Oriental Orthodox Christian church in Ethiopia.
The Ethiopian Church was administratively part of the Coptic Orthodox Church until 1959 when it was given its own Patriarch by the Coptic Orthodox Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of All Africa, Cyril VI. The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church is not part of the Ethiopian Catholic Church.
This Church has a membership of between 40 and 45 million people, the majority of whom live in Ethiopia, making it the largest of all Oriental Orthodox churches. They are also a founding member of the World Council of Churches, the point here is that no small number of people subscribe to the book of Enoch as canonical, so the fact that Orthodox Christians and others don’t support the book of Enoch, which is to say its impact on the global population is not nothing. In addition, the Eritrean Orthodox Tewahedo Church, another Oriental Orthodox church, considers the book canonical, but no other Christian group does.
The Book of Enoch is a 1st Century 300 BC writing, the writers of the New Testament of the Bible were familiar with its contents and story.
In theology, the New Testament is thought to have been influenced by the book of Enoch.
A short section of 1st Enoch is quoted in the New Testament Letter of Jude.
Jude 14–15 (est. AD 60-80)
“And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him”.
1 Enoch 1:9 (est. 300 BC)
“And behold! He cometh with ten thousands of His holy ones. To execute judgment upon all, And to destroy all the ungodly: And to convict all flesh, Of all the works of their ungodliness which they have ungodly committed, And of all the hard things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him”.
1 Enoch 60:8 (est. 300 BC)
“Abysses of the ocean over the fountains of the waters. But the male is named Behemoth, who occupied with his breast a waste wilderness named Duidain, on the east of the garden where the elect and righteous dwell, where my grandfather was taken up, the seventh from Adam”,
The Enoch text was also utilized by the community that originally collected the Dead Sea Scrolls during its translations. The first part of the Book of Enoch describes the fall of the Watchers, a phrase associated with the angels who fathered the Nephilim, the offspring of fallen angels and women as described in the book of (Genesis 6:2-4 and Jude 6).
The book of Enoch and the Biblical account of the watchers in the book of Daniel assert the term slightly different. Watcher means “those who are awake or guards”. Daniel does not use the term in association with fallen angels, simply with respect to the holiness of the angels. (Daniel 4:13, 17, 23)
The remainder of the book of Enoch describes Enoch’s visits to various levels of heaven in the form of travels, visions, dreams and his revelations. Enoch refers to both good and bad Watchers, with a primary focus on the rebellious ones.
Overview of the Enoch:
• The Book of the Watchers (1 Enoch 1–36)
• The Book of Parables of Enoch (1 Enoch 37–71) (also called the Similitudes of Enoch)
• The Astronomical Book (1 Enoch 72–82) (also called the Book of the Heavenly Luminaries or Book of Luminaries)
• The Book of Dream Visions (1 Enoch 83–90) (also called the Book of Dreams)
• The Epistle of Enoch (1 Enoch 91–108)
TEN LEVELS OF HEAVEN
The 1st Heaven – the Clouds, Stars, Snow, and Morning Dew are located atop the clouds and inhabited by winged Angels, this is where the rulers and elders of the constellations reside with 200 angels. Nearby is a Great Sea, larger than any of earth’s oceans. There are Heavenly store-houses for both the snow and morning dew located here as well. (II Enoch 3:1, 4:1, 5:1, 6:1)
The 2nd Heaven – Prison of Darkness, Death and Despair: A place of darkness where the angels of darkness who joined with Satan in his original rebellion have been imprisoned, hanging from chains and awaiting Judgment Day. (II Enoch 7:1-3) This is similar to the biblical text as the bottomless pit. (Revelation 20:1-3)
The 3rd Heaven – Mercy of Paradise and Justice of Hell: A particular Paradise is reserved for the good and the righteous, consisting of a fragrant orchard grove with the fiery golden Tree of Life in the center where the LORD rest when visiting. The tree of life also appears in Revelation 2:7, 22:2. The roots to the Tree of Life extend downwards to the Garden of Eden below and there are four different springs flowing with milk, honey, wine, and oil. 300 singing Angels tend the Garden.
In contrast, the northern section is a terrible place of icy, frozen darkness with a river of fire flowing through it and inhabited by fierce cruel angels with weapons who torture those sinners who have been condemned there. (II Enoch 8:1-10, 9:1, 10:1-3) The closest biblical association is the description of Hell and Paradise in the rich man and Lazarus story, as told by Jesus Himself. (Luke 16:19-31)
The 4th Heaven – Twelve Gates of the Sun and the Moon: Includes the 12 great gates (pathways) to the Moon. There are 6 eastern gates and 6 western gates to the Sun along with all its different pathways. They are all guarded and maintained by thousands upon thousands of Angels, the sun is escorted daily by 8,000 other stars and needs 100 Angels just to light its fire. Some of the inhabitants of the 4th Heaven include six-winged creatures who accompany the Angels, exotic Rainbow-colored Phoenixes and Chalkydri angels, as well as armed soldiers who are constantly singing and playing musical instruments. Chalkydri have heads like crocodiles and resemble muscular men with coppery skin and coppery eyes. It has four large feathery wings of white and carries a long sword swathed in fire. (II Enoch 11:1-6, 12:1-2, 13:1-2, 14:1-2, 15:1-3, 16:1-3, 17:1)
The 5th Heaven – Giants of Silence, Sadness, and Regret: A place of silence and gloom filled with a countless number of gigantic human soldiers called the Grigori that chose Satan as their prince and rejected the LORD. Their faces are withered. (II Enoch 18:1-7)
The 6th Heaven – Archangels of the Arts and Sciences: The home of seven different groups of Angels that rule over the stars and keep track of their motions, as well overseeing and managing the various governments on Earth.
They also keep records of everyone’s good and bad deeds and keep watch over earth’s natural systems of life and death.
In addition to Archangels, there are six Phoenixes, six Cherubim, six Seraphim that with one voice, sing songs to the Lord that are impossible to describe. (II Enoch 19:1-3)
This account in Enoch refers to the Angels called Virtues, also known as Strongholds.
In theology, they are responsible for the movements of Heavenly bodies, everything in the air, clouds, atmospheric conditions, lightning, asteroids, meteors, etc. They are also linked to the attribute “Might” (Ephesians 1:21). Their primary duty is to supervise the movement of Heavenly bodies in order to ensure the Cosmos remain in order. They may be directly involved during the tribulation, directing asteroids and meteors into the atmosphere and removing the atmospheric transparency of the Ozone layers to permit more direct solar radiation on the planet along with other aspects of planetary destruction during the tribulation. (Revelation 16:8-9)
In theology, the aspect of governing in the 6th heaven relates to the Angels called Powers, who oversee authority in the world. Powers are the authorities governing the precise enactments of God’s will on Earth. The Greek word for Power is “Exousies” (Ephesians 3:10). Powers are the bearers of conscience and keepers of history. They are warrior Angels, created completely loyal to God. They are the only Angels that do not have free will.
Their duty is to oversee the distribution of power among mankind. There is no person at any time that has come into power as King, Prince, Caesar, Magistrate, Governor, President, Prime Minister or otherwise, that was not ordained of God for His purposes (Romans 13:1-2; 1 Peter 2:13-15). When Paul said “far above all principality and power and might and dominion” (Ephesians 1:21), he was speaking of both in Heaven and in humanity on Earth.
The keeping of records of man’s affairs speaks of Messenger Angels who are responsible for the individual affairs of mankind. Messenger Angels are the lowest order of Angels and the most recognized by mankind. They are the Angels that appear to mankind most often and are responsible for man on an individual basis. They are also referred to as guardian Angels. They record the details of a man’s life as a man will be judged out of Gods four books. (Living, Life, Rewards, and Tears)
The 7th Heaven – Powers and Dominions of Fire and Light: A realm of light and fire, filled with eternally loyal Angels of the LORD including Archangels, Virtues, Dominions, Powers and Principalities, Wheels, Cherubim, Seraphim, Thrones, and other celestial beings with many eyes. (II Enoch 20:1-2, 21:3)
The 8th Heaven – Summer and Winter of Drought and Snow: Controls and changes the different seasons of the year causing either draught or rain on Earth. It also contains the twelve constellations. (II Enoch 21:7)
The 9th Heaven – Twelve Secret Mansions of the Stars in the Night: Considered the celestial homes of the constellations that lie both above and behind the 12 groups of stars as seen in the circular night sky above the Earth. Called Kuchavim in Hebrew. (II Enoch 21:8)
The 10th Heaven – Home of the Cherubim, Seraphim, and the Throne of Thunder and Lightning: Seen as the highest of Heavens as well as the actual location of God’s Throne of Judgment. Typically, this is where the LORD holds counsel with His Angels, making His decisions, handing down His judgments, and commanding His Angels who surround Him as they sing songs of praise and glory. (II Enoch 22:1-10)
In Islam, upon repentance to God, many sins can be forgiven, on the condition they are not repeated. Those who believe in God, but have led sinful lives, are punished for a time and then eventually released into Paradise. This is akin to the Catholic teachings of purgatory which is loosely extrapolated from the book of II Maccabees 12:39-46, where Judas Maccabeus and members of his Jewish military forces are collecting the bodies of fallen comrades who had been killed in battle.
When they discovered these men were carrying sacred tokens of the idols of Jamnia, which the law forbids the Jews to wear (vs. 40), Judas and his companions determined that they had died as a punishment for sin.
Judas and his men turned to pray asking God to blot out the sin that had been committed. Judas then took up a collection and sent it to Jerusalem for a sin offering making atonement for the dead, that they might be delivered from their sin.
The Catholic Church actually uses this text and others to substantiate the teaching of purgatory.
Catholics use the scripture Revelation 21:27 that says “nothing that defiles or works abomination or lies will enter heaven” to suggest everyone needs to be purified before they can enter heaven.
The challenge with the thinking in this argument is two-fold, the context of Revelation 21:27 references the New Earth and the New Jerusalem where man will live with God Himself (Revelation 21:1-27), so the location as Heaven for all those who are to come out of purgatory is misplaced, once the New Heaven is created man never goes to Heaven again, God is on Earth with man (Rev. 21:3), secondly the setting of this event takes place after the Great White Throne Judgment, which means no person who is not in right standing with God is on earth, all people, every demon, the false prophet, and the anti Christ are all in the Lake of Fire at the point of anyone’s release from purgatory. (Revelation 20:7-15)
Even if the claims by the Catholic Church are that those who are released out of purgatory are released before the thousand-year reign or the final judgment, the context of purgatory is pointless when you consider that the majority of those who are supposedly freed from purgatory, even after the requisite payments and prayers by their families are made, will go to hell anyway.
According to scripture, there are massive amounts of people which numbers are as the “sands of the seas” who go to heaven, receive rewards at the judgment seat of Christ, experience the rapture, witness Armageddon, the millennial reign of Christ on Earth and are still deceived by Satan after he is released from his thousand-year imprisonment. All these people who will be deceived are Christians and will be remanded to Hell and ultimately the Lake of Fire. But no person has to be deceived, it will still be a choice.
I know that is hard to accept, but according to scripture (Revelation 210:7-9), this reality relegates the advent of purgatory without purpose, as the masses who supposedly go into purgatory are never perfected and go to Hell despite this exercise.
Revelation 20:7-9 describes the judgment of all those Christians who were deceived by Satan and joined his army to fight against Jesus and the remaining Christians who are held up in Jerusalem.
Matthew 25:31-41 describes the exchange of those who were once Christians and later deceived by Satan at the Great White Throne Judgment at the separation of the goats and the sheep. (Matthew 25:31-33)
Another scripture that is used to support the need for purgatory by the church is Habakkuk 1:13 – “Thou is of purer eyes than to behold evil and canst not look on iniquity” The claim here is that a person who has not been perfected cannot be in the presence of God and therefore one must be cleansed in purgatory before you can go to heaven and be in the physical presence of God. This is also out of context because God Himself is the creator of evil and peace.
“I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace and create evil: I the Lord do all these things.” Isaiah 45:7
In the book of Job 1:6-11 Satan goes to Heaven and stands in the presence of God with the Angels around Gods Throne. Satan has a provocative conversation with God, where he tells God that he could have Job curse God to his face.
In all belief systems that subscribe to evil, the Devil or Satan is evil himself. If God cannot look upon the evil he creates, why does he create it in the first place? The answer in part is He created evil in order to establish truth, without choice in and of itself there can be no truth, more importantly, if the application is true, why is Satan not just in Heaven, but in Gods Thorne Room if God cannot “look” upon sin?
God is not under Satan’s thumb or control, God is in utter and complete control. God is Omniscience-all knowing while being Omniscient- having complete or unlimited knowledge, awareness, and understanding; perceiving all things, He is Omnipotent-all powerful, Omnipresent-in all places at once, Omnificent- having unlimited powers of creation; creating all things.
Consider the instruction God gave to Satan regarding Job. (Job 1:12, 2:3-6) God limits Satan’s actions against Job. Satan and his angels were cast out of Heaven, which is to say that God, who created this evil, knew in advance who would partake of it and God himself permits Satan to do what he does, Rev 12:7-9. God knows the location of all spirits including Satan and could at any time of His choosing subdue Satan, Rev 20:1-3. The point is that God is not put out by the evil that he created. God’s issue surrounds those who partake in the evil or any act of disobedience to His word.
When it comes to Purgatory, the 95 thesis of Martin Luther, in no small part shines a light on the use of Purgatory by the Catholic Church.
A saying attributed to Johann Tetzel “As soon as the coin in the coffer rings, the soul from purgatory springs.” Johann Tetzel was a Roman Catholic German Dominican friar and preacher.
He was the Grand Commissioner for indulgences in Germany. Tetzel was known for selling indulgences in exchange for money, which was supposed to provide the remission of temporal punishment in purgatory due to sin, that has already been forgiven by God.
There are further arguments that Catholics make, but even by dismissing any protestant argument that dismisses the advent of the use of the Apocrypha like
2nd Maccabees, the arguments for the existence of purgatory is inconsistent with scripture without implying that any interpretation by the Catholic Church is out of context.
Other teachings by the Catholic Church about the afterlife include Limbo which is slightly different from Purgatory, according to Catholic Church doctrine Limbo, is a speculative idea about how the afterlife applies to the dead. Limbo is associated with those who have not accepted Christ at death and are therefore subject to punishment associated with the Original Sin of Adam as all men are born into sin as a result of Adam. Therefore, without accepting Christ or believing on his second coming etc. man would go to limbo rather than being assigned to Hell.
Limbo is referred to as The “Limbo of the Patriarchs” or “Limbo of the Fathers” which is seen as the temporary state of those who, in spite of the personal sins they may have committed, they died in the friendship of God, but could not enter Heaven until redemption by Christ made it possible. This aspect is mostly associated with those who lived prior to the resurrection.
Purgatory is the intermediary state after physical death in which those destined for heaven “undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter heaven”.
Those who die in the state of grace but have not in life reached a sufficient level of holiness go to Purgatory. According to the Church, no one stays in Purgatory forever or goes to hell, everyone in purgatory eventually goes to heaven.
Islam teaches that every prophet preached Islam, providing a historical back-story for the religion by independently recognizing Jewish and Christian prophets, and then adding others. The teachings of the Quran are presented by Muslims as the direct revelation and words of God. All earlier scriptures are considered by Muslims to have been corrupted over time. Islam which means “submission” in the sense of submission to Allah, is a universal belief, membership is open to anyone; it has a strictly unitary conception of God.
There were early disputes over who would lead the Muslims following the death of Muhammad which led to a split between the Sunni and Shia, Islam’s two main denominations. Sunni Muslims believe that Abu Bakr was chosen by the people and that this was the proper procedure to choose leadership.
The Sunnis argue that a caliph should be chosen by election or community consensus.
Shi’a Muslims believe that Ali, the son-in-law and cousin of Muhammad, should have replaced Muhammad as Caliph and that Caliphs were to assume authority through appointment by God rather than being chosen by the people, because of this way of thinking Ali attempted to exterminate the Sunni.
In the order of the priesthood, as established by God and administered by Moses in biblical text, the entirety of the advent of a Caliph is loosely akin to having a high priest which falls more closely in line with the Shi’as thinking on how a Caliph should be chosen. However, with respect to the Biblical text, God Himself appointed Jesus the Christ as the High priest between man and God and any person assuming the role of a high priest after Christ, rather it is a Pope in Catholicism or a Caliph in Islam is outside the will of God. Acts 4:10-12, 1 Timothy 2:5, 1 John 2:1-4
In the major Abrahamic religions, there exists the expectation of an individual who will herald the time of the end and/or bring about the Kingdom of God on Earth; in other words, the Messianic prophecy.
Judaism awaits the coming of the Jewish Messiah; the Jewish concept of Messiah differs from the Christian concept in several significant ways, despite the same term being applied to both.
The Jewish Messiah is not seen as a “god”, but as a mortal man who by his holiness is worthy of that description.
His appearance is not the end of history, rather it signals the coming of the world to come.
Christianity awaits the Second Coming of Christ, though Full Preterists believe this has already happened. Islam awaits both the second coming of Jesus (to complete his life and die) and the coming of Mahdi (the redeemer of Islam) (Sunnis in his first incarnation, Shi’a as the return of Muhammad al-Mahdi).
Most all religions agree that other than the spirit, a human being comprises the body, which dies, and the soul, which is capable of remaining alive beyond human death and carries the person’s essence, and that God will judge each person’s life accordingly after death. The importance of this and the focus on it, as well as the precise criteria and end result, is what differs between religions.
Norse mythology, also known as Scandinavian mythology, is an extremely complex system of beliefs with many gods, with the principal god Odin who has been made popular in modern times by Marvel Comics and depicted in movies and cartoons. In the Norse religion, he is the Allfather of the gods and the ruler of Asgard. Odin has many sons, the most prominent Thor, Baldr and Vali with the most famous being the thunder god Thor.
Odin is depicted sitting on his throne with a spear in his right hand, a wolf and raven-flanking him. Odin is portrayed as the ruler of Valhalla which would be the equivalent of Heaven in other religious systems.
Valhalla is a majestic and enormous hall located in Asgard, half of those who die in battle honorably are chosen by Odin to go to Valhalla and are escorted into the great hall by Valkyries, which are female figures who escort those chosen to Valhalla. The other half of the honored dead are remanded to the goddess Freyja who rules over the heavenly afterlife field Folkvangr. Asgard is for those who fought heroically in battle. In Valhalla, the dead are known as Einherjar, which means fighters, as well as various legendary heroes and kings. All those in Asgard will fight with Odin in the Ragnarok.
Ragnarök is a great battle that results in the death of Odin, Thor, Tyr, Freyr, Heimdallr, and Loki), it includes the occurrence of various natural disasters and the subsequent submersion of the world in water. Afterward, the world will resurface anew and fertile, the surviving and returning gods will meet, and the world will be repopulated by two human survivors.
In this regard, the Norse religion loosely takes from the Biblical aspects of Adam and Eve, the New Heaven and New Earth, the battle of Armageddon and the advent of rewards and levels of Heaven ascribed to in Christianity.
In Norse mythology, there is also a Hel, the location shares a name with Hel, a female figure associated with the location. This is similar to Hades in Greek Mythology. There are “Hel-shoes” shoes placed upon the feet of a corpse so that the soul of the recently deceased can enter Valhalla.
Hel was home to the dishonorable dead, Norse tradition usually referred to the departed souls that were sent there as the Náir (deceased spirit ) Loki would be the equivalent of Satan who as monsters of the sea that fight with him at Ragnarok- which is to say Armageddon in Christianity.
In the Norse Religion, Hel is ruled over by a female of the same name.
In Scandinavian folklore, belief in the old gods still exists, but not in the form they once did.
The Christianization of Scandinavia took place between the 8th and the 12th centuries. The realms of Scandinavia proper, Denmark, Norway and Sweden, established their own Archdioceses, responsible directly to the Pope, in 1104, 1154 and 1164, respectively. The conversion to Christianity of the Scandinavian people required more time since it took additional efforts to establish a network of churches.
The Samis remained unconverted until the 18th century. Samis encompasses parts of far northern Norway, Sweden, Finland, the Kola Peninsula of Russia, and the border area between south and middle Sweden and Norway.
Written history is only, about, 5000 years old (the age of formal writing). A lack of written records results in the fact that most of the knowledge about pre-historic religion is derived from archaeological records
The Romans had a similar belief system about the afterlife, with Hades becoming known as Pluto. Some belief systems, such as those in the Abrahamic tradition, hold that the dead goes to a specific plane of existence after death, as determined by a god, gods, or other divine judgment, based on their actions or beliefs during life.
In contrast, in systems of reincarnation, such as those in the Dharmic tradition, the nature of the continued existence is determined directly by the actions of the individual in the ended life, rather than through the decision of another being. In metaphysical models, theists generally believe some sort of afterlife awaits people when they die. Members of some generally non-theistic religions such as Buddhism, tend to believe in an afterlife, but without reference to God.
The Sadducees were an ancient Jewish sect that generally believed that there was a God but no afterlife. Many religions, whether they believe in the soul’s existence in another world like Christianity, Islam and many pagan belief systems, or in reincarnation like many forms of Hinduism and Buddhism, believe that one’s status in the afterlife is a reward or punishment for their conduct during life.
In Abrahamic religions, the view is generally held that one goes to hell or heaven depending on one’s deeds or faith while on Earth, or predestination and unconditional election, or to the intermediate state to await the Resurrection of the Dead. In most denominations, heaven is a place of reward for the righteous to go after they die. Hell in comparison is a place of punishment and torment for the wicked. Similar places of torment and reward can be seen in Greek Mythology with Elysium versus Tartarus.
In Catholicism Limbo is a theory that unbaptized but innocent souls, such as those of infants, virtuous individuals who lived before Jesus Christ was born on earth, or those that die before baptism must wait before going to heaven. Even though salvation in Christianity has nothing to do with salvation itself. On Friday April 20, 2007 Pope Benedict XVI, abolished the whole idea of limbo saying he “showed doubt about the concept of limbo”. He cited his concerns about it when he was a cardinal. In other Christian denominations, it has been described as an intermediate place or state of confinement.
In 1446 BC about 3400 years ago, the Hebrews or Israelites were enslaved for 400 years in Egypt until Moses leads them out of Egypt. 1406 BC Israel begins establishing itself as a sovereign country.
After Moses dies, Joshua leads the Israelites into Canaan and begins conquering the land, establishing a sovereign country of Israel for the first time in history. In 1400 BC Israel is ruled by judges, not kings from about 1400 to about 1050 BC. The people think of God as their King instead of an earthly King and these judges settled all disputes amor the people.
Saul becomes Israel’s first king, after about 350 years of being ruled by judges, the people of Israel demand to have a King, like the neighboring countries.
By demanding a king, the people are turning away from their faith in God as their king. Saul becomes king and reigns about 40 years.
1010 BC David becomes King of Israel and reigns for 40 years. He expands the size of Israel and rules over surrounding territories.
970 BC Solomon becomes king, builds Temple
Solomon, work is completed in about 960 BC He too reigns for about 40 years.
926 BC Israel becomes a divided kingdom, shortly after the reign of Solomon, The southern kingdom, called Judah, includes the city of Jerusalem and the Temple. The northern kingdom continued to be called Israel. The two often war with each other.
721 BC The Assyrian Empire conquers the northern kingdom of Israel, they torture and decapitate many. They force many Israelites (10 of the 12 Tribes of Israel) out of Israel and bring in foreigners.
612 BC Babylon conquers Nineveh (Assyrian Empire)
the Assyrian Empire’s capital city Nineveh – is attacked by a coalition of Babylonians and others. As explained by the prophet Nahum in the Bible, Nineveh was to be destroyed because of the Assyrian Empire’s treatment of the Israelites.
605 BC Babylon exerts influence over Judah, the Neo-Babylonian Empire, under the reign of King Nebuchadnezzar, begins forcing Judah into submission. Nebuchadnezzar takes many Jews as captives to Babylon to ensure Judah’s obedience.
597 BC Babylonian army attacks Judah and takes more Jews as captives to Babylon. Ezekiel, one of the captives, becomes a prophet of God. Ezekiel explains that God is allowing Babylon to punish Judah because the people have been unfaithful to God.
586 BC Babylon destroys Jerusalem and the Temple, they attack Judah again. This time, the Babylonians destroy Jerusalem and the Temple that Solomon had built. More Jews are taken as captives to Babylon.
586 BC to 573 BC King Nebuchadnezzar attacks Tyre,
Babylon begins a 13-year siege of the mainland of the Phoenician city of Tyre.
539 BC Cyrus the Great conquers Babylon
After the death of Nebuchadnezzar, establishing the Medo-Persian Empire.
538 BC Cyrus releases the Jews from Babylonian Captivity
After conquering Babylon, Cyrus offers the Jews their freedom to leave Babylon and to return to Judah. Cyrus’ kingdom rules over Judah and many other parts of the Middle East, but Cyrus allows people more cultural and religious freedom than did the Neo-Babylonian Empire.
536 BC The Jews in Babylon return to Judah and begin work to rebuild the Temple, which had been destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 BC.
516 BC The second Temple is dedicated and consecrated for worship 70 years after the Babylonians had destroyed it in 586 BC.
333 BC The Greeks begin rule over the land of Israel under the leadership of Alexander the Great, they defeat the Persian armies in Macedonia.
This marks the fall of the Medo-Persian Empire and the rise of the Grecian Empire.
332 BC Alexander wars against the island fortress of the Phoenician city of Tyre. He takes rubble from the mainland of Tyre and builds a walkway to the island. Alexander’s forces then conquer the island fortress, bringing an end to the Phoenician Empire.
250 BC The Old Testament is translated into Greek, a Greek ruler asks the Jews to translate all or part of the Old Testament into the Greek language. The translation is called the Septuagint.
175 BC The Greek ruler Antiochus Epiphanes torments the Jews
and rules Syria from about 175 BC to about 164 BC. He reigns over Judah and tries to destroy the Jewish religion. He also defiles the Temple.
164 BC Jews have independence, the Maccabees, a group that fought for Jewish independence, stage a revolt against the Greeks and establish the Hasmonean royal dynasty, as well as sovereignty over all or part of the land of Israel for about 100 years, from about 164 BC to 63 BC.
63 BC The Romans take over the land of Israel after the death of Alexander the Great, the empire of the Greeks is divided and becomes weaker. During this time, the Roman Empire becomes increasingly powerful. The Roman general named Pompey seizes control over the land of Israel.
1 CE Jesus is born in the town of Bethlehem. The Apostle Matthew later points out that Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem fulfilled a prophecy delivered by the prophet Micah, about 700 years beforehand. (See Micah 5:2).
30 CE Jesus begins His ministry at 30 years old. He preaches salvation, delivers prophecies and performs miracles. He announces that he is the Messiah (the Christ) who was promised by the prophets of the Old Testament. Jesus promises salvation and eternal life to those who believe in him (See John 3:16).
About 33 AD Jesus is falsely accused and is sent to Pontius Pilate, the Roman ruler of the land of the Jews, to be crucified. Jesus is later resurrected, meaning he is brought back to life, and his followers began evangelizing him to others, allowing Christianity to spread very quickly throughout the Roman world and to eventually become the first religion to spread throughout the world. This is a distinction from Greek Mythology and all other beliefs in that it spreads over the entire world. All other religions are regional or relegated to a particular nation of people.
70 AD The Roman Army, under Titus, destroys Jerusalem and the Temple, to suppress an uprising of the Jews. According to the historian Josephus, about 1.1 million Jews were killed. Others were taken as slaves.
First century AD (about 1900 years ago)
The Bible is completed during the first century of this era, the New Testament, which describes the life and teachings of Jesus the Christ, is completed. The writing of the Bible (the Old Testament and the New Testament) comes to an end. It began during the time of Moses, about 3400 years ago. Jesus becomes, and remains, the final subject of the Bible.
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