Monday, July 26, 2010

Irish Monks, Tang Dynasty Gnostic Christians, and Greco-Shinto Iconography

--Or-- Age of Crushed Skulls cont'd.
Saint Aidan of Lindisfarne
 The beginning of the Viking Age for the United Kingdom was the sacking of the monastery at Lindisfarne, a small tidal island on the Northeastern coast of England. This monastery was founded by the Irish Saint Aidan, who was living on the island of Iona. Despite Iona's Greek-sounding name, Saint Aidan came to Lindisfarne from the Inner Hebrides in western Scotland. It's difficult to ascertain just how exactly Iona came to be called Iona, some speculate that it means "the yew-place," some say it's a latinized form of a phrase meaning "Calum's island," some suggest it's a from another name meaning "den of the brown bear."

Christianity came to the U.K. region during the 3rd Christian Era. Thus, Christianity came to the region just as Constantine made Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire. But, the Romans largely withdrew their military presence form the British Isles during the 4th and 5th centuries so that they could defend Rome against the Visigoths (who ultimately sacked Rome in 410 CE) This left the monks in the U.K. region largely insulated and accounts for the forms of Christianity known as Celtic Christianity that developed during the early middle ages and would not be reformed until the twelfth century, CE.

Herculean depiction of Vajrapani (right), as the protector of the Buddha, 2nd century CE Gandhara,
The Christians of continental Europe accused some of the British bishops of heresies such as Pelagianism, named after Pelagius who is remembered as stating that Original Sin did not taint human nature and that our will is still possible to choose good over evil without the special aid of Divine intervention. Thus humanity has full control, and responsibility for every sin committed.  So, because men are sinners by choice, they are therefore criminals who need the atonement of Jesus Christ. By extension of this argument, the Pelagians believed that it is possible to attain moral purity in this lifetime.

This was in direct opposition to St. Augustine (of City of God fame, who basically is responsible for the Roman Catholic Church) who stated that there is no salvation for humanity except through Divine Grace which humanity can choose to accept or not. The Pelagians argued that St. Augustine was secretly a Manichean, whose beliefs included that the flesh itself was sinful and that Jesus was never present in the flesh (that is, in an impure state).

Manichaean priests, writing at their desks, with panel inscription in Uyghur.
Did you know that Manicheanism, a form of Gnostic Christianity, was the most widespread religion in the world between the 3rd and 7th centuries CE?

The Manicheans were known from the Western Roman Empire, who kicked them out of the Church in 432 CE (and then announced themselves as the Catholic--meaning Universal--Church) and all the way to Southern China, where they were known as 摩尼教 (monijiao). The Manicheans and the Church of the East thrived in Southern China until the 14th century.

The Manicheans get their name from the Prophet Mani, a Persian man who has a vision to leave his parents' Syrian Christian church and travel to "India" (now called Afghanistan). It is believed that while in that region he was influenced by Greco-Buddhism.

Nestorian priests in a procession on Palm Sunday, in a 7th- or 8th-century wall painting from a Nestorian church in China, Tang Dynasty
Greco-Buddhism is a syncretic religion that blends Hellenistic culture and Buddhism. This was made possible by the conquests of Alexander the Great, whose wars brought Hellenistic colonists on his march to the ends of the Earth. Greco-Buddhism flourished for nearly a thousand years from the 4th century BCE to the 5th CE.
Author standing next to statue of Fujin, Shinto god of Wind; Asakusa Temple, Tokyo. Depicting Fujin in this manner has it's origins in the Herculean depictions of Vajrapani, protector of the Buddha, from the Greco-Buddhist syncretism (see above)

6 comments:

  1. Partytent offertes met een stevige korting. Vergelijk alle huur en verhuur partytent leveranciers bij u in de regio van uw feestlocatie en ontvang een stevige korting! Partytent

    ReplyDelete
  2. Klebe BH | Brust-anhebenden Push-up Klebe BH wird von 3M hergestellt und eignet sich perfekt für trägerlose oder rückenfreie und strapless Kleidung.Bra Tape

    ReplyDelete
  3. Partytent
    Partytent offertes met een stevige korting. Vergelijk alle huur en verhuur partytent leveranciers bij u in de regio van uw feestlocatie en ontvang een stevige korting!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Klebe BH | Brust-anhebenden Push-up Klebe BH wird von 3M hergestellt und eignet sich perfekt für trägerlose oder rückenfreie und strapless Kleidung.
    Push Up Bh

    ReplyDelete
  5. Instant breast lifts provides high-quality instant breast lifts and gel petals. Don't get tricked in buying copycats. Buy 3M quality lift and gel petals.
    Bra Tape

    ReplyDelete