Panel 2. The Semitic Myth
This is the first board of three, the other two depicting a sleeping Christian and a sleeping Mullah. The scroll that covers them will be lettered, in 3 columns, with Hebrew Greek and Arabic. The text on all three will be the same, the commonly held story of the creation all derived from the first book of the Jewish Pentateuch.
I wish to illustrate the commonality of beliefs and of doctrine of these three great religions, belonging to a single family.
This panel may not be sequentially correct. The Semites come early, but not that early.
Here are a few succinct extracts from Wikipedia:
“A large number of Non-Semitic speaking peoples inhabited the same general regions as the Semites: Sumerians, Elamites, Hattians, Hurrians, Lullubi, Gutians, Urartians and Kassites. Indo-European language speakers included; Hittites, Greeks, Luwians, Mitanni, Kaskians, Phrygians, Lydians,Philistines, Persians, Medes, Scythians, Cimmerians, Parthians, Cilicians and Armenians, and Kartvelian speakers included Colchians, Tabalites and Georgians.
The earliest positively proven historical attestation of any Semitic people comes from 30th century BC Mesopotamia, with the East Semitic Akkadian speaking peoples of the Kish civilization, entering the region originally dominated by the non-SemiticSumerians (who spoke a language isolate). The earliest known Akkadian inscription was found on a bowl at Ur, addressed to the very early pre-Sargonic king Meskiang-nuna of Ur by his queen Gan-saman, who is thought to have been from Akkad. However, some of the names appearing on the Sumerian king list as prehistoric rulers of Kish have been held to indicate a Semitic presence even before this, as early as the 30th or 29th century BC. By the mid 3rd millennium BC, many states and cities in Mesopotamia had come to be ruled or dominated by Akkadian speaking Semites, including Assyria, Eshnunna, Akkad, Kish, Isin, Ur, Uruk, Adab, Nippur, Ekallatum, Nuzi, Akshak, Eridu and Larsa.
All early Semites across the entire Near East appear to have originally been Polytheist.
The influence of Mesopotamian religion can also be found in Armenian, Persian and Graeco-Roman religion and to some degree upon the later Semitic Monotheistic religions of Judaism, Christianity, Mandaeism, Gnosticism and Islam.”
It is therefore appropriate to place the Semitic panel at third place in the chronology. Our modern experience of Semitic culture and the Semitic ‘worldview’ is through the Semitic cultures now in existence in our modern world, dominated by Judaism, Christianity and Islam. In all of these cases the culture has spread to other peoples than the racial Semites, because each the religions have passes, or are engaged in proselitization.
In a sense, Semitic culture is part of my own. In my early days as a Christian, the Semitic world view, and specifically that of the Jewish sect we call Christian, was the world in which I was nurtured. For some time I toyed with the idea of becoming a minister of religion, and for two years was a ‘local preacher’ on the Methodist ‘plan’ for the Flint, Holywell, Halkyn region of chapels. I can no longer recall any sermon I preached, but I imagine they followed the formula of quotation from somewhere in the bible then elaboration and commentary. In principal the religion I followed was formulaic and doctrinaire, with a system of belief to which everyone adhered. My preaching, I have no doubt, enforced the stories with repetition and example from personal experience, it was called ‘giving testimony’. I am still very interested in the nature and history of the Christian religion, its connections, its antecedents and its influence, and wish to take the opportunity of these paintings to widen my knowledge and reading.
In addition to the calligraphy around the head and feet of the sleeping figure I intend to arrange images from the particular versions of the myths appropriate to the sleeping figures.
However I have begun to develop some ideas for this panel, which I will outline here in this series of blogs.