RE:EIS TON AIWNA in class. Gk.?

Date: Sat Sep 27 1997 - 21:57:05 EDT


I don't know anything in particular about the phrase "EIS TON AIWNA".
I thought I had a bunch of notes on AIWN, but I can't find anything. But,
the word AIWN is bandied about from Homer (life, soul) to Plato (where it
is outside time) to Aristotle ("natural lifetime") to the Gnostic texts and
the NT. In Hellenistic times, the Alexandrians promoted AIWN to a god of
eternity often pictured in a cosmic egg surrounded by zodiacal signs, as is
the Orphic Phanes, a lion-headed God, and Mithras. The head is usually in
Aries, sign of the vernal equinox, the "head" of the year. As Carl says, this
development may be related to the Zrvan akarana of the Persians: 12,000
years is roughly 1/2 the Great Year, when all the stars (are presumed to)
return to their original positions. The notion of cycles of time goes back, at
least, to Empedocles with his cycles of Love and Strife. The basic idea is that
the Cosmos, being created, is a living thing with a lifetime or cycle. Most
"physicists" have something to say on the subject, including the Stoics. As
astrology and knowledge of the precession spread, the idea of the re-birth
of the Cosmos as an avatar of the astrological age took hold and was
personified. Thus, we have a plethora of new gods and theologies in the
Hellenistic age.

In _Timaeus_, AIWN is the intermediate term between the timeless model
and the created Cosmos, just like the Logos. Since the Cosmos is created,
it can only be eternal in a cycle of births (as opposed to being deathless).
Some of the symbology of the Hellenistic gods even rubbed off on Jesus.
The Gnostics have many aeons, for things from the heavenly bodies, to the
"emissions" of the Father (I'll leave it at that).

Later, Firmicus Maternas and Macrobious talk about the thema mundi,
birthchart of the world.

So, whether as the liquidy substance of Homer or as the Neo-Platonic
emanations or Gnostic emissions, the notion is always, in the background
at least, of a natural succession of life cycles. By Hellenistic times,
everyone, Hebrews included, was in on the game. Synagogues of the
time sometimes have astrological symbols in the floor. Thus, it doesn't
seem likely that the notion of world ages originated with the
Hebrews, but in Greek philosophy.

Sorry, I can't provide anything more direct to your question. If Greg
doesn't talk about Gnostic uses, usually of particular use with John,
I have some notes (somewhere).

Will Wagers "Reality is the best metaphor."

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