Those of you who have been following my series of articles on Linguistic Palaeontology were left slightly hanging in May when I neglected to complete the series.
I’m currently working on Part 4 about how the core beliefs of modern Judaism are not at all as ancient as many believe and how Zoroastrianism inadvertantly inspired the formation of Judaism from a polytheistic but monolatric Hebrew cult called “Yahwehism” in 586 BC.
In part 2 I briefly mentioned some of the names of the gods and rites of the ancient Indo-European belief system and how they were inherited by Hinduism, Zoroastrianism (and by proxy, the fast-growing but relatively modern monotheisms, Judaism, Christianisty and Islam). In this part 2½ I’d like to also mention some other Indo-European peoples, the Norse (Vikings), the Anglo-Saxons, the Greeks and the Romans, and how their religions tie up historically with the Zoroastrians and the Hindus.
Now we don’t often think of this, but most of the languages from Ireland to India are related… and it’s not a huge stretch of the imagination to see that their religions are also related.
Just as words for the number 2 can be traced back to a common source, certain motifs and patterns in culture and religion can be traced back too… and just like the number 2, the end results are not the same form, but manifest just enough similarity to be recognisable as of similar origin.
This family tree above shows the cognates for two Indo-European words, *deiwos and *ansura which meant “the shining ones” and “the ones who give birth” respectively. Both sets of gods were worshipped as divine and each had its place in the cosmic order. The deiwos were gods who maintained order upon the Earth, and the ansuracreated the whole thing in the first place. Etymologically, these words are of the same origin (they are cognates), but they have been used in different ways (culture does change quite a bit in a 5000 year period).
The reconstructed Indo-European religion is very interesting from a linguistic point of view because you can see the same words used in different ways in the different traditions. Not surprisingly, none of the descendant cultures have kept the same meaning of those two words.
The Vikings, the English and other Teutonic peoples
The Germanic people took the term “deiwos” for a single god called “tiwaz fader” meaning “god-father” or “shining father” and everntually lost the “fader” part altogether leaving them with “Tiwas“… The word “Tiwas” as a name for all of the gods fell out of use and was replaced by “Vanir” at some point, but the name Tiwas did not die out. It became Norse “Týr” and Enlish “Tiw“, from which we get “Tuesday“.
The Romans used a process called “interpretatio germanica” to try and make the Roman/Greek pantheon equivalent to the Anglo-Saxon/Norse/Teutonic pentheons, they ended up with:
- Tiw/Tyr = Mars
- Wotan/Odin = Mercury
- Thor = Jupiter
Little did they realise that Tiw and Jupiter are actually the same gods historically, and the only reason they made Thor and Jupiter equivalent was that the contemporaryThor had userped the power of Wotan, who had originally userped the authority of Tiw, the original god-father. (If you say “Tue-piter” you can see the connection). In other words, Thursday should really be called “Tuesday”…
As for the “ansura“, they became the Aesir, the collective name for the Norse gods, and the Os for the Anglo-Saxon gods. We’ve lost this term now except in names such asOscar, Osbourne and Oswald meaning “spear of the gods“, “carried by the gods” and “power of the gods” respectively. The prefix also exists in some town names in England, and by extention in the rest of the Anglo-Saxon influenced world (ie. the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand etc…).
The Greeks and the Romans
The Greeks and Romans also did the same with this group of gods, using the group name for a single god. “Deiwos” in Greece became “Zewus” and eventually “Zeus“. In Rome, “Deiwos pater” eventually became “Dies Piter” and eventually “Iuppiter” or “Iovis“, whom we know as “Jupiter” or “Jove“.
The Persians and the Indians
As I mentioned in Part 2, in the homeland of Iran and India there seems to have been a conflict between the ideologies of the two groups. The “deiwos“, the original gods of the natural world became the active, “Devas” of India which the Indians continued to worship… and the “ansura“, the original creator gods, became the wickedly lazy “Asuras” who created then left everything to rot and whom we should not imitate lest we fall into indolence. It seems like there was a split in the Indo-Iranian community at some point, based on the acceptance or rejection of these godly qualities because in the early Iranian Avestas we learn that the “Ahuras” are noble and peaceful, whereas the Avestan “Daevas” are wicked, warmongering villains. It is indeed interesting to see how the enemy’s gods are literally demonised.
So linguistically it can be shown that, quite probably, the gods and pantheons of all the Indo-European people from the Vikings in the West, through the Germanic peoples, the Greeks, Romans and Iranians all the way to the Indians in the East may well be related. And since the Jewish ideas of a single supreme God, judgement day and the idea of Heaven and Hell came into the religion only after the Persian conquest, and considering how fundamental these ideas are to the Abrahamic religions, it is probably not too much of a stretch to call Judaism, and by extension Christianity and Islam offsprings of Indo-European religion. In other words, Judaism, Christianity and Islam are essentially descended from the religious tradition that also gave us Zeus, Jupiter, Thor and Loki.
Part 4 will be ready as soon as I’ve finished the research… It’s quite a tough one because all the other stuff I’ve written are generally accepted… but the Zoroastrian-Judaism connection is a little-known theory based on the logic of what the Jews believed before the Babylonian exile, and what they believed afterwards. Watch this space…