Chaldaean Philosophy

Chaldaean Philosophy.

Ritter (History of Philosophy, bk. 2, ch. 1) remarks that he passes over the philosophy of the Chaldaeans without special notice; both "because the fragments of Manetho, Berosus, and Sanchoniatho are not free from suspicion as to genuineness and antiquity, and also because the ideas and conceptions prevailing in them are of little value philosophically." Beard, in Kitto's Cyclopaedia (s.v. Philosophy), remarks, nevertheless, that the subject is "of interest to the student of the Bible, in consequence of the general and decided influence which the Babylonian philosophy exerted on the opinions and manner of thinking of the Israelites during their captivity in Babylon, as the Rabbins themselves admit, in alleging that the names of the angels and of the months were derived by the house of Israel from Babylon (Rosh Hashanah, p. 56). SEE CAPTIVITY. The system of opinion and manner of thinking which the captives met with in Babylon was made up of elements whose birthplace was in various parts of the East, and which appear to have found in Babylon a not uncongenial soil, where they grew and coalesced into one general system. Of these elements the two principal were the Chaldaean and the Medo-Persian or Zoroastrian.

"The former of these, which alone we shall here consider, seems to have originated in the cultivation of astronomy (q.v.), a science very early pursued under the clear sky of Babylonia, although generally corrupted with a mixture of astrology (q.v.). Light naturally came to be regarded as a divine principle, and the heavenly bodies were worshipped as the residence or impersonation of Deity. This soon diverged into polytheism, as the celestial luminaries were assigned to separate powers of Nature. SEE IDOLATRY. An observation of the astronomical phenomena led not only to the formation of horoscopes with a view to divining the future, but it likewise induced. a belief in certain intermediate powers, which were supposed (as by the now discovered bond of gravitation) to link all bodies together, and whose presence was. made to fill the void between them and the invisible Being at the center. Thus arose the emanation theory, which figures so conspicuously in the Cabbala (q.v.) and in Gnosticism (q.v.). These intermediate or derived existences were invested with intelligence, and formed again a link between spirit and matter, giving rise to a whole world of daemons (q.v.), of various characters and capacities. To guard against the malignant influence of some of these, talismans (q.v.) were used, and the arts of sorcery (q.v.) were resorted to. SEE CHALDEES.

"The fragments of Berosus, preserved by Eusebius and Josephus, and to be found in Scaliger (De Emendat. Temp.), and more fully in Fabricius (Bib. Gr. 14:175), afford some information on the subject of Chaldaean philosophy. Berosus was a priest of the god Baal, at Babylon, in the time of Alexander the Great. The Talmud and other works of the, Jewish Rabbins may also be advantageously consulted, together with the following authorities: Euseb. Pre-p. Evang. 9:10; Philo, De Mig. Mun.; Selden, De

Diis Syris, Proleg. 3; Stanley's History of Oriental Philosophy; Rosenroth, Cabbala denudata (t. 1, Solisb. 1677, t. 2); 'Liber Johan. restitutus' (Francof. 1684); Kleuker, Emanations-lehre bei den Kabbalisten (Riga, 1786); Molitor, Philosophie der Geschichte (1827-8); Hartmann, Verbindung des A. T. mit dem Neuen. (1831); Fritz, Ketzer-Lexikon (1838); Brucker, Hist. Crit. Phil.; Nork, Vergleichende Mythologie (Lpz. 1836)." SEE MAGI.

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