By Norman Cohn
During this engrossing publication, the writer of the vintage paintings The Pursuit of the Millennium investigates the origins of apocalyptic religion - the assumption in an ideal destiny, whilst the forces of fine are effective over the forces of evil. Norman Cohn takes us again thousand years to the realm perspectives of historic Egypt, Mesopotamia, and India, the recommendations of Iranian and Jewish prophets and sages, and the earliest Christian imaginings of heaven in the world, and he illuminates an important turning element within the background of human cognizance. For this moment, corrected variation, the ultimate bankruptcy, on Zoroastrians, Jews and Christians, has been absolutely rewritten and prolonged.
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Extra info for Cosmos, Chaos, and the World to Come: The Ancient Roots of Apocalyptic Faith
46 The book also contains instructions for the fabrication of a wax figure of Apophis. This is to be placed on the ground, and the priest is to stamp on it with his left foot until it is reduced to a shapeless mass. Then it is to be cut up with a flint knife, finally it is to be thrown on to a specially prepared fire. All this is to be done every morning, noon and night; and at times when the sun is obscured by clouds or rain, several such figures are to be burned. Despite all this, Apophis never was destroyed, he was immortal.
It was not a place where believers congregated to worship, indeed the interior was not even accessible to ordinary folk. It was a place of mystery, where priests performed complicated rituals in the presence of the god alone. Moreover, an Egyptian temple was itself an embodiment of cosmos. As each god in his sanctuary was experienced as the supreme force in the ordered world, so the building surrounding his statue represented the ordered world. In many cases the very structure of the building symbolised the emergence of the ordered world at 'the first occasion'.
Little gods and beneficent spirits surrounded one, watching over one's everyday occupations and preoccupations, while harmful spirits, or demons, hovered nearby, awaiting their chance to inflict injury or sickness or death. 52 Separate minor gods and goddesses supervised the marshlands bordering the Nile and the hunting and fishing that took place there; weaving and the making of clothes; the production of wine, oil and scented unguents; grain and harvest - indeed every aspect of economic life.