Sacred Chef Secrets and Recipes

Welcome

to Sacred Chef secrets and recipes.. my collection of recipes and writings, gathered over a lifetime of cooking and teaching. What is the whole Sacred Chef thing? Well, what is more sacred than feeding the hungry and satisfying our body’s need for nourishment? Cooking, for me, is very much about loving, providing a means toward physical fulfillment and good health.

 

Cooking a beautiful meal for family, friends and loved ones is an act of devotion. What better way to show how much you love someone? I have always said that cooking is the only kind of Art, that really gets inside you. We ingest the goodness, literally. It is a creative act and it is a labour of love.

 

Sharing a meal, with friends and family, is a sacred occasion, we see each other enjoying the fruits of our working life, through a basic pleasure. Consuming food, tasting, smelling and touching textures with our tongues. It is a simple fact of life, which can be a wonder or a disappointing chore, depending on your circumstances and attitude. I have always taken the sensual pathway to pleasure and eating great food is a big part of this approach to living. Each mealtime is an opportunity to create, lovingly consume and be thankful for.

 

I hope that you, will find some great recipes here to try and perhaps add to your own culinary repertoire. Recipes are like magic spells to incant with your hands, touching, inspiring, chopping, stirring and then serving. The dance of the kitchen, I call it, weaving wonder with saucepans and knives. Good cooking involves a flow of energy, as you engage with matter and time, coordinating the arrival of a number of different elements.

 

For some, this can be a stressful process and the memory of traumatic kitchen experiences permeates their appreciation of cooking. This collection of recipes, also includes some useful tips and suggestions about how these painful situations can be avoided. Of course the essential nature of the kitchen and cooking must be embraced; it is a place of earth, fire, air and water. Meaning that you need to be present in the moment, aware and ready to respond, not distracted and thinking of other things. You cannot daydream in the home of heat and steel.

 

I like to ponder on the fact, that we as human beings, have been cooking for many millennia and that the basic act has not changed that much. One culinary technology, the mortar and pestle, was developed three or four thousand years ago, at least, and we at the pointy end of the cooking spectrum are still employing its services today. Cooking provides us with a chance to step into, an ageless, timeless and universal whirlpool, as we alchemically transform matter and energy into new forms.

 

Your cooking experience will ultimately be defined by your attitude towards it – I hope that this book will turn you on to the very satisfying pleasure that comes from sacred cooking, eating and drinking. May the cooking gods smile upon you!

 

Sudha Hamilton aka The Sacred Chef

 For More Sacred Chef Secrets and Recipes by Sudha Hamilton 

Judeo-Christian Roots Beginning of Misuse of Religion by Political Powers

by Robert Hamilton

I think it will be enlightening to look back into the very roots of our religious and cultural identities, to see where our gods have come from and what defined our relationships with them. Historically the Judeo-Christian religions were, once established, all pervading in their control over their community members. The Hebrew Bible describes, in my opinion, a very jealous god – this Yahweh, or Jehovah, is forever being ‘let down’ by generations of  Israelites and Judeans:

“Now in the eighteenth year of King Jeroboam son of Nebat, Abijam began to reign over Judah. He reigned for three years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Maacah daughter of Abishalom. He committed all the sins that his father did before him; his heart was not true to Yahweh his God, like the heart of his father David. Nevertheless for David’s sake Yahweh his God gave him a lamp in Jerusalem…” (1 Kgs 15:1-8)

This example takes place after the split between the two Jewish states, Israel and Judah, and after King Solomon, and possibly around the eighth century BC.[1] There are, however, countless examples from the Old Testament listing Yahweh’s unhappiness with the religious behaviour of the kings and communities of these Jewish states. There is from the time before Moses a battle going on primarily between the adherents of Yahweh with those Semitic people who worshiped Baal, predominantly the Canaanites (Palestinians). Baal had a sister goddess called Asherah, and there were others in the Semitic pantheon of gods. So we see a polytheistic belief system, like the Greeks and Romans, prior to the establishment of the monotheistic  Jewish religion. But it was an ongoing battle for the hearts and minds of these Semites, with the Old Testament telling us that incorrect religious practices and statues to Baal were popping up in villages and cities within the territories of Israel and Judah. It seems that old religious beliefs are not easily thrown off, as we are seeing ourselves today in the twenty first century AD. I also suspect that this is in part where we, in the Christian faith, get the whole dualism thing about god and the devil, good and evil, as Baal throughout the Old Testament is definitely the baddie.

The Old Testament lists some pretty horrendous acts of retribution taken by the adherents of Yahweh against political opponents who conveniently also happened to be worshipping Baal. These occurred both within their respective kingdoms of Israel and Judah, and against each other. King Ahab, of Israel, took Jezebel, a Phoenician princess as his wife, and this was regarded by the later Judahites who compiled the Hebrew Bible as:

“Ahab did more to provoke the anger of Yahweh, the God of Israel, than all the kings of Israel who were before him.” ( 1 Kgs. 16:33)

What begins to become clear from a study of the Old Testament, is that it is both a political document, or history, and a book of scripture. It is quite likely that Ahab took Jezebel as a wife to secure his regional relationship with the Sidonians, much like members  of ruling powers have done throughout history, creating alliances through intermarriages. Ahab then would have needed to build an altar or temple for Baal, where Jezebel could practice her religious beliefs, as a caring husband and diplomatic ruler would do. The religiously intolerant nature of Judaism, at this time, would find political opponents ready to condemn Ahab for this behaviour. Jezebel has, of course, become infamous within our hazy recollection of Old Testament characters as an immoral harlot, much like many biblical depictions of women. It is important to remember that the Old Testament was written many centuries later (around the third century BC) by Judahites, who were at times an enemy state of the Israelites; not a recipe for the impartial recording of accurate history, I would say.

It is clear to me, that within the paradigm of religious belief, which was Judaism at this time, that political opponents used adherence to scriptural purity as a socially validating reason to create coup de tat’s and to topple existing regimes.  Prophets, like Elijah, appear to be religious power brokers and offer an alternative form of authority outside of the ruling king, through their ability to talk directly with god. Kings claim the divine right to rule and in the case of the Jewish kingdoms there was an ongoing and rigorous requirement to satisfy an exceedingly jealous god. Kings like Ahab were, most likely, trying to get the balance right between surviving in an unstable geo-political realm and keeping the high priest happy at home. Jehu would murder Jehoram, the son of Ahab, and commit genocide against every remaining member of the Omride dynasty, and then burn to death all worshippers of Baal, whilst they were locked in their temple; all in apparent accordance with the wishes of Yahweh. Jezebel was cast from a second story window to the street below and then eaten by dogs. Israel would later fall to the Assyrians in 722 BC and cease to exist as a kingdom. The kingdom of Judah would be conquered by the Babylonians in 586 BC. The Hebrew Bible, being written after all these calamities, repackages them according to the religious agenda of its authors.

Bloody power struggles and battles, brothers killing brothers, these are things that we have historically seen all over this globe and the Jewish kingdoms were no different. It is only the depth of their rewriting of history, in accordance with their single minded religious beliefs and interpretations of those beliefs, which may put them in a class of their own. Their Torah, Book of Law, is basically also our Christian Old Testament Bible, with the omission of those books after the Pentateuch. Our Western Christian civilisation has grown out of the Judeo-Christian religious tradition. We have embedded these biblically interpreted “so called’ histories at the heart of our religious ethos, culturally speaking. I don’t think that many people, living in our Western cities today, realise the morass of lies and political manipulations which make up our holy book. We are quick to dismiss its relevance and turn to the stories of Jesus in the New Testament, as more of a reflection of our modern relationship with the Christian faith. It is, however, important to see the roots of the political misuse of religion and where it began in our own cultural history.

For More Roman and Greek History by Robert Hamilton

©Robert Hamilton

[1] Miller. J and Hayes. J, History of Ancient Israel and Judah, SCM Press, London, 2006, p – 270.

Skin

by Sudha Hamilton

Our skin is our single largest living organ and it literally defines who we are. Without our skin, we would be a skeleton in a puddle of blood and that would take some getting used to, I imagine. Skin is often derided for being at the surface of things and thus incorrectly labelled superficial – so skin deep – but what this elastic covering achieves for our anatomical structure is more than just a tidy appearance. Skin breathes and like a baboon’s bottom its colour and appearance indicates our state of health – it is a barometer for all to see, of our moods, our level of hydration, our age and whether we are succumbing to disease.

We look outward in our search for beauty in our lives, we are conditioned to look out and not within, to seek beauty and meaning in romantic love, Art and nature. Beauty that inspires us to love or perhaps to begin the journey to find our heart, and meaning – to find meaning in that same quest for love or is there meaning in beauty itself? Much of our seeming obsession with appearing beautiful is, I think, the desire to be loved for who we are. As Louise Hay writes, “Our skin represents our individuality. Skin problems usually mean we feel our individuality is being threatened somehow. We feel that others have power over us.” I always think of adolescence and the eruption of skin problems at this time as a great example of this.

Our skin makes us uniquely who we are and no other. To touch another’s skin is an intimate act and usually the preserve of mothers and lovers. Skin to skin. The feel of your beloved’s skin is very important – it must feel right to touch for things to proceed from there. How one feels inside one’s own skin is another way of conveying the emotional response to one’s own existence. It is funny that we describe someone as ‘skinny’ when they in fact have less skin than someone who is not so svelte, but perhaps we are referring to them having les fat beneath their skin. Still we call someone a fatty when they have more fat but linguistically ignore the need for the extra skin to stretch over that fat. Skinny latte for me please.

Skin is portrayed in myth as often about magical powers, like the dragon’s scaly skin being impenetrable or the healing powers of the snake shedding its skin as renewed life. Skins were our first clothing in ancient times, to keep us warm and perhaps also to take on some of the properties of the slain animal – bear skins, sheep skins, fox, wolf, mink, cat, dog, buffalo, rabbit, kangaroo………..Shaman still today, wear skins of their totemic animal when performing rituals. When the beautiful white swans descend down to water, they remove their feathered skins to become frolicking naked ladies and if you can steal their skin they will follow you home and be yours forever – according to the myth that is.

©Sudha Hamilton

For More Healing Our Wellbeing by Sudha Hamilton

 

 

 

 

Religion a Socialising Force or a Private Affair?

by Robert Hamilton

 

It is, today, a very pertinent question, I think, whether religion is considered primarily, as a social phenomenon or merely a personal relationship with one’s god? For several millennia religions like Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, and later Christianity and Islam have influenced the direction of humanities evolvement and, dare I say, progress. Around the globe the socialising force of various religions have shaped the cultural and economic realities of numerous regions and countries. But, at the same time, individuals and their priests, or ministers of religion, have professed that the true meaning of religion lies with one’s own relationship to god. Can then these large entities, established church groups, who often wield enormous power, even today, claim a socially benign status based on this individual right to worship one’s god, without prejudice?

In the West we have moved away from the openly fused church and state roles controlling our institutions, I qualify this with the word openly because our ‘so called’ secular states are still culturally influenced by the historical powers of the church within our governing bodies. In countries like Australia and the United States, a predominantly Christian population founded these nations and continues to be in the majority, and so we see the shadow of theism hanging over our judicial courts, parliaments and in many of the essential rituals of governance. Secularism has given us the choice in some of these ‘swearing in’ rituals in countries like Australia, but the gravitas of “So help me God,” remains within the cultural psyche. Even as regular attendance numbers for church services continue to decline and remain low, less than one in sixteen Australians in 2012 according to research, the social influence remains.[1] It is, after all, only one or, possibly two,  generations ago that the church was front and centre as the major community activity and driver of public opinion in most Western countries.

Outside of the West, religions and their various churches are still often the dominant forces within communities in Africa, South America, the Middle East, and parts of Asia. Billions of people, believers in some particular god or gods, are compelled to worship and attend services in churches and shrines within their communities. Priests and ministers of religion are standing up before their congregations and telling them what god thinks they should be doing, according to his, or very occasionally her, interpretation of the scriptures. Rabbis, Imams, Pandits, and Buddhist Monks are performing rituals and thus consolidating traditional religious observances and practices to maintain the socialising force of their religions within their communities. Christianity is, in all probability, far more popular and actively influential in places like Africa and South America (around 50% of Christians reside on these two continents), and with the advent of Pope Francis there is, today, more recognition of this.[2]

©Robert Hamilton

For More Drugs and Dreams and Consciousness by Robert and Sudha Hamilton

[1] http://mccrindle.com.au/the-mccrindle-blog/spirituality-and-christianity-in-australia-today

[2] http://www.pewforum.org/2011/12/19/global-christianity-exec/

Fermented Foods for Healthy Gut Flora

by Sudha Hamilton

 

We are not alone. In fact we are hosts to trillions of micro-organisms happily munching on our waste products and doing a sterling job within our digestive system. It may come as a bit of a shock to those of us with obsessive compulsive cleaning tendencies,  that killing all the tiny invisible bugs is not a really good idea. Bacteria are all around us, within us and performing vital tasks for our health and the health of this planet.  Of course like everything in existence there are good and bad bacteria, not intrinsically bad but just bad for humans and probably quite good for something else. The good bacteria,  or gut flora,  are involved in a myriad of useful functions, like fermenting unused energy substrates, producing vitamins for us, preventing the growth of bad bacteria, producing hormones to help us store fats and improving our immune functioning.  If we did not have all these bacteria munching away our bodies would be unable to digest many of the carbohydrates that we consume, such as certain starches, fibres, proteins, and sugars like lactose. Studies with animals indicate that we may need to eat 30% more calories to maintain our stable body weight without the helpful presence of gut flora. The good bacteria transforms carbohydrates into short chain fatty acids and these are able to be processed by our cells into nutrition  and energy. Lactic and acetic acid are also produced by this saccahrolytic fermentation and they are used by our muscles. There are numerous other positive functions supported by good bacteria in our systems.

Continued in Healing Our Wellbeing by Sudha Hamilton

©Sudha Hamilton

Kidneys Matter

by Sudha Hamilton

Published in WellBeing Magazine

In our western health culture the kidneys are perhaps one of the most invisible and possibly neglected bodily organs. These two vaguely bean shaped organs are located near our spine at the small of the back, just below the liver and spleen. Responsible, in the main, for the removal of urea, mineral salts, toxins and other waste products from the blood, they are seemingly behind us and out of sight, out of mind. Perhaps their association with excreting waste has led to a lack of polite conversation about them over the years. The kidney is not, at this juncture in time, the somewhat sexy organ that the liver has been of late, with its infamous association with drugs, alcohol and partying. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) however prescribes far greater influence for the kidneys upon our physical health and indeed our lives.

 

Western medicine focuses very much on the diseases that affect the kidney and the field is called nephrology, from the Greek “nephros” for kidney. Renal failure and dialysis are possibly terms and conditions that you have heard of and refer to in the first instance – “renal “ Latin for kidney and their failure through disease to remove wastes from the blood; dialysis involves filtering the blood outside of the body assisted by a machine and is used as a means of keeping those with renal failure alive before and if a donor for a kidney transplant can be found. Kidney diseases can be congenital, meaning from birth, or acquired and although most of us are born with two kidneys we can function with one working kidney.

Continued in Healing Our Wellbeing by Sudha Hamilton

©Sudha Hamilton

Ageing Affects on Our Consciousness

by Sudha Hamilton

Published in WellBeing Magazine

O, what a world of unseen visions and heard silences, this insubstantial country of the mind! What ineffable essences, these touchless rememberings and unshowable reveries! And the privacy of it all! A secret theatre of speechless monologue and prevenient counsel, an invisible mansion of all moods, musings, and mysteries, an infinite resort of disappointments and discoveries. A whole kingdom where each of us reigns reclusively alone, questioning what we will, commanding what we can. A hidden hermitage where we may study out the troubled book of what we have done and yet may do. An introcosm that is more myself than anything I can find in a mirror. This consciousness that is myself of selves, that is everything, and yet nothing at all- what is it?

And where did it come from?

And why?”

Exert from Julian Jayne’s book, The Origins of Consciousness In the Break Down of the Bicameral Mind.

This journey of mind we set out upon hopefully fearlessly, but invariably not, is unique to each of us. It has been indelibly influenced by our childhood and the love we did, or did not quite receive in the particular manner that we would have preferred. From the very beginning we start with a sense of our self, a nascent spark that will emerge in time like a sculpture quite unlike any that has ever been before. So defined by our life experiences and in turn our reactions and responses to them, that the twisting formless space that seems to be located behind your eyes might be beautiful art or something else again.

Does the aging process effect our thinking and feeling sense of self and if so how does it?

I once read, that according to a study conducted amongst a cross section of age groups, most people feel in their mind’s eye that they are twenty five years old, irrespective of their actual body age. That whether they be fifty, sixty or seventy years old, inside they see themselves as that bright, shiny twenty five year old. Perception and self image are powerful things, and perhaps we function best when we feel young at heart. It beggars all sorts of questions, like what is wisdom and how does one get it? Is it the stoic acceptance of the vicissitudes of life and the bearing of tragedy with uncommon grace? Is a flexible quality of mind something that we should foster in the hope of a life well lived?

Continued in Drugs Dreams and Consciousness by Robert and Sudha Hamilton

©Sudha Hamilton

History of Astrology

by Sudha Hamilton

 

Looking back in time in search of the origins of astrology, we are faced with the question, what is astrology? Is it an advanced scientific hypothesis, based on the premise that the heavenly bodies give off an ‘influence,’ which affects individual events on earth, or is it primarily a universal language, as argued by Giovanni Pontano, the Italian Renaissance astrologer? Pontano’s treatise, On Celestial Things, published in 1512, stated that astrology is “a language of the stars and planets that formed the letters of a cosmic alphabet that conformed in all essential ways to the language of humans.” In my experience as an astrologer, it has been the latter definition, which has made most sense to me and encouraged me to take the journey of life guided by the stars above.

It is generally agreed that humankind’s look to the stars has been one that all the tribes of earth – indeed, every culture – has shared in. Evidence of this remains today on ancient cave and wall paintings, and on surviving archaeological tablets and texts in museums around the world. To look up at the night sky and witness the incredible changes of the celestial light show would have been profoundly awe-inspiring. It would also have stimulated the formation of a number of basic philosophical questions like: why are we here? What is nature of time? Who controls the movement of the stars across the heavens? When we ask, what is the history of astrology? We must consider that, incredibly, there once was a time when the inhabitants of this world did not know what time it was! Imagine how that would affect everything you did or wanted to do.

Continued in Healing Our Wellbeing by Sudha Hamilton

Wanted Wellbeing Dead or Alive

We live at a time when we wish to have the greatest wellbeing in the history of humanity. We are alive during a time of unprecedented new approaches to health and healing, when practitioners of pioneering wellbeing modalities are arriving, almost, daily. In this book I have collected my published writing on a variety of healing techniques, nutritional approaches and therapies in an attempt to offer you some insight and understanding into this exciting field.

Of course, some of these healing modalities and sources of wisdom are in fact ancient, dating back, in some instances, to the Babylonian civilisation several millennia ago. There are, however, new adaptations of these timeless truths and they have been incorporated into new modalities. History, to many people, is unknown and so the wisdom proffered here may indeed shine a light on the cause of unhappiness and, even, illness. The aim of this book is to introduce readers to new ways of healing and increasing their sense of wellbeing.

Thought Field Therapy offers amazing relief to many sufferers, who cannot find healing in what we call ‘modern medicine’ today – tapping on the meridians discovered by Chinese medicine thousands of years ago. House Therapy is my own insight, linking our homes to our minds or souls – and showing how we can heal and change things through this understanding. Retreats and Spas have become our new way of holidaying – a new holy day on which to heal.

Nutrition must be one of the most exciting new fields of knowledge when it comes to our health and there are many pieces here on our physical selves – and what is good and bad to consume. I hope that you enjoy the writing and finish this book with a greater understanding of your health and some of the therapies and approaches to healing that currently abound.

©Sudha Hamilton

Continued in Healing Our Wellbeing by Sudha Hamilton

A Lot of Contentious Christian Ideology

by Robert Hamilton

In this essay, I will be critically assessing the argument, put forward by Robert Di Vito in his published article, “Old Testament Anthropology and the Construction of Personal Identity,” that Lot’s contentious offering of his daughters to a ‘mob’ of men in Genesis 19 is an example of a ‘value system’, which ranks the family group above any individual rights. Di Vito’s argument rests, intrinsically, on the difference between our modern sensibilities and that of the characters who inhabit the Old Testament Hebrew Bible. How are we so different from these denizens of the Bronze Age?

De Vito, references Charles Taylor’s, Sources of the Self, to outline the development of the “self” from the Enlightenment, in the late seventeenth century, as a pivotal shift from how we considered ourselves and our place in the universe previously.[1]

“Essentially, the development which Taylor charts extends from Augustine through Descartes, Locke, and Kant on into the romantics, culminating in the affirmation of the human subject as an autonomous, disengaged, self-sufficient, and self-responsible unity, one whose own “inner depths” are the sufficient ground of its efforts at self-expression and self-exploration.”[2]

This sense of “self,” which all of us hold so dearly today, was in De Vito’s view, absent, or hardly developed, during the time of the Hebrew Bible. In contrast to our sense of “individuality,” which we, as modern people,  value highly, the members of Old Testament family groups were defined by their kinship to a patriarchal family leader (“father”), and to a lesser extent, their tribe. The narrative within the Hebrew Bible confirms this, through its focus on these characters, like Abraham, Noah and Moses, to name a few. Martin Noth describes this focus, within the Pentateuch, as the “circle of patriarchs”.[3] In Genesis 12:26 the story revolves around Abraham, with Lot, his nephew, making a peripheral appearance in Genesis 19, mainly because of his relationship within Abraham’s family circle. Individuals within family groups, and or tribes, had no personal value outside of the family.[4] The crux of De Vito’s argument is, that identity was defined very differently in the time of the Old Testament, in comparison to how we define it today.

Wives, sons and daughters, within the stories of the Hebrew Bible, are there to carry out their “father’s” wishes in everything. De Vito, emphasises this “unequivocal patriarchy” within the ancient Israelite family group and makes it clear that all property was owned by the “father” and that his children, grand children, and so on, were his property.[5] So, that, when Lot, in Genesis 19, offers his virginal daughters, to be raped by a mob of men as an alternative to Jehovah’s  male angels, or messengers, being sodomised by these same men, it may not be, as morally contentious in the same way, as we view it today.[6] In fact biblical scholars, like Desmond Alexander, see the Genesis 19 story as proof of Lot’s righteousness, in the same way that Abraham’s righteousness is portrayed in Genesis 22.[7]  Paul Tonson in his article, “Mercy Without Covenant,” sees Lot, as performing his more important duties, as host, rather than his less important parental obligation.[8] It is, however, pretty repugnant behaviour whatever way you look at it and devalues both the role of women and the duty of care a father has to his children. In the words of Lyn Bechtel, “his offer violates the assumption of protection of women as the producers of life that characterizes ancient society.”[9] Scott Morschauser, in his article, “Hospitality, Hostilities and Hostages,” disagrees completely with the traditional interpretation of the Hebrew in Genesis 19: 1-9 – he reads the meaning of the words to refer to Lot, as a judicial patriarch interviewing the messengers at the gatehouse, during a time of war, and then being challenged by the mob to hand over the two men as possible spies.[10] He goes further, to completely discount any sexual meaning in regard to the men, or Lot’s daughters – if this is correct then it greatly undermines the common understanding of Genesis 19.

De Vito, in his essay, goes on, to argue that this patriarchal family grouping system provided social stability and that in early Israel this was how villages were constructed, with several “father’s houses” forming a clan based grouping.[11] De Vito stresses, that it is the social roles determined by the family group, which define the identity of the members of the Old Testament families. Morality is centred within a community model, which is founded on an extended family group, with one patriarchal leader responsible for all moral decisions affecting the family – the “extended lineal group.”[12]

Surrounding this kernel of truth, according to De Vito, the article presents some very interesting analysis of contemporary attitudes towards identity, in contrast to historical antecedents. The article, begins with a comparison of, the ancient Greek’s idea of the  duality of body and soul, with the Israelite’s literal conception of a united single self. The author, importantly, qualifies the difference between today’s sense of self with the more primitive, Old Testament, conception of self. De Vito states,

“Just as the promotion in modernity of a socially disengaged self contrasts sharply with the embedding of the Israelite in the family, so too the modern conviction of personal unity finds only a distant echo in the biblical construction of individual identity.”

The essential points here, are the “social disengagement” of the modern self, away from identifying solely with roles defined by the family group, and the development of a “personal unity” within the individual. Morally speaking, we are no longer empty vessels to be filled up by some god, or servant of god, we are now responsible for our own actions, and decisions, in light of our own moral compass. I would like to mention Julian Jayne’s seminal work, The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind, as a pertinent hypothesis for an attempt to understand the enormous distance between the modern sense of self with that of the ancient mind, and its largely absent subjective state.[13]

“The preposterous hypothesis we have come to in the previous chapter is that at one time human nature was split in two, an executive part called a god, and a follower part called a man.”[14]

This hypothesis sits very well with De Vitos’ description of the permeable personal identity of Old Testament characters, who are “taken over,” or possessed, by Yahweh.[15] The evidence of the Old Testament stories points in this direction, where we have patriarchal family leaders, like Abraham and Noah, going around making morally contentious decisions (in today’s terms) based on their internal dialogue with a god – Jehovah.[16]  As Jaynes postulates later in his book, today we would call this behaviour schizophrenia. De Vito, later in the article, confirms, that:

“Of course, this relative disregard for autonomy in no way limits one’s responsibility for conduct–not even when Yhwh has given “statutes that were not good” in order to destroy Israel “(Ezek 20:25-26).[17]

This brings us to De Vito’s next sub-heading, within the article, Heteronomy – the opposite of autonomy – and the fact that the Old Testament Israelites were clearly told to obey and definitely not to think for themselves:

“Wisdom comes not to those who look within themselves for worlds to explore, or who embark on roads never travelled, but only to those willing to heed the authoritative voice of tradition “(Prov 1:8-9).

The essence of the argument here, is that only god has the moral right, and that autonomy is wrong, as is personal freedom, and that man is a puppet waiting for Jehovah to fill him with his “wind” or spirit. No individual human actions can be judged by humanity, according to De Vito’s interpretation of the Old Testament, only by god; and that the narrative of the Hebrew Bible is about family groups and tribes.

Social Identity Theory, developed by Henri Tajfel in the nineteen seventies, has a relevance here when considering behaviour by members of groups.[18] How much of our identity is derived from interpersonal values and how much from intergroup expectations imposed upon us? The permeable individual, the sheep within a flock of sheep, Tajfel highlighted the behaviour of individuals at times of war, as a clear example of when the scale is tipped strongly in favour of intergroup influence over the individual. The Old Testament characters are, it seems, perpetually at war on behalf of their jealous god Jehovah; who demands total obedience. (Deut 8:1-19) Scott Morschauser’s interpretation of Lot’s behaviour with the messengers, as possible military spies, would fit appropriately here as well.

Both Jayne, and De Vito, analyse the linguistic make-up of highlighted sections of the Hebrew Bible, and in Jayne’s case, he questions the translations of certain words, and this, in his opinion, can change the meaning of the texts.[19] De Vito references Hans Walter Wolff’s,Anthropology of the Old Testament, when he talks of the “interchangeability” of terms, like heart, soul, flesh and spirit used in the Old Testament to describe the same “unity” of the person but with different words.[20]

“The eye of the adulterer waits for dawn, saying, `No eye will see me.'” (Job 24:15a)

“When the ear heard it, it called me happy; when the eye saw it, it bore me witness.” (Job 29:11) [21]

As you can see, in these two examples taken from De Vito’s article, the writer of this text, within the Old Testament, gives parts of the body autonomous sentiency.  De Vito references A.R. Johnson’s, The Vitality of the Individual in the Thought of Ancient Israel, when determining that it is merely “synecdoche” and poetic language.[22] I hesitate to accept this blithely and would caution greater discrimination  in the linguistic examination of the texts within the Hebrew Bible.[23] The meaning of these words change, even when transferred from the oral tradition to being written down, and even further depending on what language they are translated into.[24] What De Vito, and the referenced biblical scholars, are determined to illustrate here is the non-dual totality in the “Hebrew conception of the person” but not in a primitive sense, rather, in a more complex way.[25] Why is this important to De Vito?

The article begins by referencing an early comparison between the deaths of Socrates and Jesus, in a lecture by Oscar Cullmann at Harvard University.[26] This highlights an ancient argument about the moral, and intellectual, superiority of the classical Greek conception of life over the Christian model. What De Vito is attempting to do here is link our sense of truth in our modern conceptions of identity with the essence of Old Testament morality. There is a never ending need for Christian scholars to explain the righteousness of their religion, especially in the face of examples of primitive savagery, which abound in the Old Testament. An example of this is Lot’s story, which goes on to present incest between father and both daughters, and resultant children from, what we would call today, acts of abomination. (Genesis 19:30-38) I find this particularly relevant when you consider the current Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Abuse, which focuses in large part on institutional abuse within religious organisations and their schools. I imagine that there are some confused members of the priesthood, who having read these stories in the Old Testament, are, perhaps, merely acting out in accordance with what they have learnt from these prophets and patriarchal leaders. How can we condone a religion, and their operation of schools within our communities, when their holy books contain such morally questionable activities? What kind of message are we sending out to the members of our community?[27] Supposedly, it is in part, because we overlook the Old Testament and discount its scriptural relevance, but biblical scholars, like De Vito in this article, continue to attempt to validate its importance to our sense of who we are.

De Vito reaches, some strange conclusions, in my view, that personal identity in the modern sense is the worship of idolatry, with our own conception of ourselves being the idols, I presume. Like so many Christian scholars, he eventually comes down on the side of the Bible, after a circuitous journey through psychology and modern cultural senses of identity. This wild goose chase, is usually, in  my experience,  an attempt by the writer to maintain the Christian religions relevance to the modern world. I find it extraordinary, that a religious text written by biased proponents, many years after the purported times it professes to cover, is taken so seriously by scholars, and some psychologists, as a source for the understanding of humanity.[28]

In conclusion, the evidence suggests that De Vito is correct, that the family group took precedence over the rights of the individual in the world of the Old Testament. Social Identity Theory would define these characters as heavily directed by intergroup expectations at the expense of their interpersonal values, they simply had no value outside of the group; and these groups were often at war with one another. Julian Jayne’s hypothesis about the ancient mind, also explains a great deal about the pre-eminence of god, and his prophets, in the decision making by characters, within the narratives of the Hebrew Bible; and most importantly conveys the abyss between modern mind and ancient mind. There is, however, a too ready acceptance of easy answers in regard to the Hebrew understanding of terms like soul and spirit, in De Vito’s essay, when there is much debate, by scholars, over meanings in the linguistic terminology used in the Old Testament. The reality, even today, is that we do not know what these terms mean in our own languages; and the irony is that we look back into ancient history for answers as to what soul and spirit really refer to. De Vito drastically, underestimates, the incomprehension between modern thought and Old Testament individual reality. De Vito seeks to link these disparate worlds to make ideological sense of Christianity, and its foundations. He concludes that we all should surrender and obey the will of Jehovah, as a morally correct and still applicable path to righteousness. There is, at the heart of this essay, a denial of the barbarity and intellectual contempt toward humanity, which the creators of this Bronze Age religion have clearly displayed in their history.

©Robert Hamilton

For More Roman and Greek History by Robert Hamilton

 

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Alexander, T. Desmond. Lot’s Hospitality – A Clue to His Righteousness, Journal of Biblical Literature, , Vol. 104 Issue 2, Jun1985, p289-291.

Bechtel. Lyn. M, “A Feminist Reading of Genesis 19.1–11,” in Genesis: A Feminist Companion to the Bible, Second Series, ed. Athalya Brenner (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1998), p -108–29.

Bible – New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures, Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania, 1984.

Blenkinsopp, Joseph. “Two centuries of Pentateuchal scholarship” in Pentateuch: An Introduction to the First Five Books of the Bible , Doubleday, New York, London, 1992 , p -1-30.

Bimson, John. “Old Testament history and sociology” in Interpreting the Old Testament: A Guide for Exegesis , Broyles, C.C. ,Grand Rapids Michigan, 2001 , p -125-138.

Cullmann. O, “Immortality of the Soul or Resurrection of the Dead?” in Immortality and Resurrection (ed. K. Stendahl; Ingersoll Lectures; New York: Macmillan, 1965) p -9-47.

De Vito. R. A, Old Testament Anthropology and the Construction of Personal Identity, Catholic Biblical Quarterly, 61, 1999, p – 217-238.

 

Heard. Christopher, What did the mob want Lot to do in Genesis 19:9?, Hebrew Studies, Vol 51, 2010, p – 95-105.

Jaynes. Julian, The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind, Mariner Books, New York, 2000.

Kutz. Ilan, Revisiting the Lot of the first Incestuous Family: The Biblical Origins of Shifting the Blame on to Female Family Members, British Medical Journal, 331:7531, 2005, p – 1507-1508.

Low. Kathryn. B, The Sexual Abuse of Lot’s Daughters: Reconceptualising Kinship for the Sake of Our Daughters, Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion, 26.2,  2010, p – 37-54.

Morschauser. Scott, Hospitality, Hostiles and Hostages: On the Legal Background to Genesis 19:1-9, Journal for the Study of Old Testament, 27,  2003, p – 461-485.

 

Miller II, Robert D. “Literacy and orality in preexilic Israel” in Oral Tradition in Ancient Israel , Miller II, Robert D. , Cascade Books, Eugene Oregon, 2011 , p -40-58.

Mowinckel, Sigmund. “‘I’ and ‘we’ in the psalms – the royal psalms” in The Psalms in Israel’s Worship: Translated by D. R. Ap-Thomas , Basil Blackwell, Oxford , 1967 , p – 42-80.

Noth, Martin. “The human figures in the pentateuchal narrative” in A History of Pentateuchal Traditions , Noth, Martin , 1972 , p -146-188.

Tajfel. Henri, “Social Identity and Intergroup Behaviour,” Social Science Information, Vol 13, April, 1974, p – 65-93.

 

Taylor. Charles, Sources of the Self, Harvard University Press, USA, 1992.

Tonson. Paul, Mercy Without Covenant, Journal for the Study of the Old Testament, Vol 26, No 1,Sage Publications, UK, 2001, p – 95-116.

 

Sternberg. Meir, Biblical Poetics and Sexual Politics from Reading to Counterreading, Journal of Biblical Literature, Vol 111/3, 1992, p – 463-488.

 

 

[1] Taylor. Charles, Sources of the Self, Harvard University Press, 1992, p -111-26.

 

[2] De Vito. R. A, Old Testament Anthropology and the Construction of Personal Identity, Catholic Biblical Quarterly, 61, 1999, p – 220.

 

[3] Noth, Martin. “The human figures in the pentateuchal narrative” in A History of Pentateuchal Traditions ,  Prentice-Hall, Englewood Cliffs NJ, 1972 , p – 147.

 

[4] Mowinckel, Sigmund. “‘I’ and ‘we’ in the psalms – the royal psalms” in The Psalms in Israel’s Worship: Translated by D. R. Ap-Thomas , Mowinckel, Sigmund , Basil Blackwell, Oxford, 1967 , p -42.

 

[5] De Vito. R. A, Old Testament Anthropology and the Construction of Personal Identity, Catholic Biblical Quarterly, 61, 1999, p – 222.

[6] Hamilton. Robert, “The mob’s desires re-gang raping the messengers of god is what is traditionally understood but as with all these linguistic interpretations still open to scholarly debate.”

[7] Alexander, T. Desmond. Lot’s Hospitality – A Clue to His Righteousness, Journal of Biblical Literature, Jun85, Vol. 104 Issue 2, p – 291.

 

[8] Tonson. Paul, Mercy Without Covenant, Journal for the Study of the Old Testament, Vol 26, No 1,Sage Publications, UK, 2001, p – 99.

[9] Bechtel. Lyn. M, “A Feminist Reading of Genesis 19.1–11,” in Genesis: A Feminist Companion to the Bible, Second Series, ed. Athalya Brenner (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1998), p -108–29.

 

[10] Morschauser. Scott, Hospitality, Hostiles and Hostages: On the Legal Background to Genesis 19:1-9, Journal for the Study of Old Testament, 27, 2003, p – 461-485.

[11] De Vito. R. A, Old Testament Anthropology and the Construction of Personal Identity, Catholic Biblical Quarterly, 61, 1999, p – 223.

[12] De Vito. R. A, Old Testament Anthropology and the Construction of Personal Identity, Catholic Biblical Quarterly, 61, 1999, p – 223.

 

[13] Jaynes. Julian, The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind, Mariner Books, New York, 2000, p – 84.

[14] Jaynes. Julian, The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind, Mariner Books, New York, 2000, p – 84.

 

[15] De Vito. R. A, Old Testament Anthropology and the Construction of Personal Identity, Catholic Biblical Quarterly, 61, 1999, p – 229-230.

 

[16] Jaynes. Julian, The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind, Mariner Books, New York, 2000, p – 293-300.

[17] De Vito. R. A, Old Testament Anthropology and the Construction of Personal Identity, Catholic Biblical Quarterly, 61, 1999, p – 236.

[18] Tajfel. Henri, “Social Identity and Intergroup Behaviour,” Social Science Information, Vol 13 April, 1974, p – 65-93.

[19] Jaynes. Julian, The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind, Mariner Books, New York, 2000, p – 297.

 

[20] De Vito. R. A, Old Testament Anthropology and the Construction of Personal Identity, Catholic Biblical Quarterly, 61, 1999, p – 227.

[21] De Vito. R. A, Old Testament Anthropology and the Construction of Personal Identity, Catholic Biblical Quarterly, 61, 1999, p – 227.

 

[22] De Vito. R. A, Old Testament Anthropology and the Construction of Personal Identity, Catholic Biblical Quarterly, 61, 1999, p – 227-228.

 

[23] Heard. Christopher, What did the mob want Lot to do in Genesis 19:9?, Hebrew Studies, Vol 51, 2010, p – 95-105.

 

[24] Miller II, Robert D. “Literacy and orality in preexilic Israel” in Oral Tradition in Ancient Israel , Miller II, Robert D. , Cascade Books, Eugene Oregon, 2011 , p -41-42.

Sternberg. Meir, Biblical Poetics and Sexual Politics from Reading to Counterreading, Journal of Biblical Literature, Vol 111/3, 1992, p – 470.

 

[25] De Vito. R. A, Old Testament Anthropology and the Construction of Personal Identity, Catholic Biblical Quarterly, 61, 1999, p – 227.

[26] Cullmann. O, “Immortality of the Soul or Resurrection of the Dead?” in Immortality and Resurrection (ed. K. Stendahl; Ingersoll Lectures; New York: Macmillan, 1965, p -9-47.

 

[27] Kutz. Ilan, Revisiting the Lot of the first Incestuous Family: The Biblical Origins of Shifting the Blame on to Female Family Members, British Medical Journal, 331:7531, 2005, p – 1507-1508.

Low. Kathryn. B, The Sexual Abuse of Lot’s Daughters: Reconceptualising Kinship for the Sake of Our Daughters, Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion, 26.2, 2010, p – 37-54.

 

 

[28] Bimson, John. “Old Testament history and sociology” in Interpreting the Old Testament: A Guide for Exegesis , Broyles, C.C. ,Grand Rapids Michigan, 2001 , p -133-136.