ePub 版

ly revealed to man once for all. And if man, as we believe,

was one,

if not the, determining factor in this religious process and growth, then the most natural way to deal with such a subject as the spirit-phenomena of the New Testament-and we might well say the same with regard to the study of any other New Testament conception-is, so far as we can, to deal with the process of the development of spirit-ideas from a sociological and psychological viewpoint and to point out their genetic relations with the ideas of contemporary systems of thought.

Our first endeavor then is to find out how the belief in spirits and demons arose in the primitive ages and how these primitive ideas were modified and developed in the thinking of the Graeco-Roman world. But since Christianity arose on Jewish soil and at first was very little more than a Jewish sect, it is necessary also to investigate the conceptions of the Jews regarding spirits and demons, and particularly those of the Jews of New Testament times. This gives us a background for the Christian notions of the Spirit in the first few decades of the movement. But when by the activity of Paul and other missionaries the movement spread to Gentile soil, there naturally came a fusion of the Jewish ideas heretofore held by the Christians and those which the Gentile Christians brought over with them as a heritage from their past history. This leads us to a discussion of the spirit-conceptions in which there is more or less of a Hellenistic element, particularly the conceptions of the Pauline letters and the fourth Gospel. In this discussion we are to concern ourselves not only with the operations of the Spirit in the believer, but with the ideas of the Spirit's relation to Jesus, for these ideas, based on the identification which the Christians made of Jesus with the heavenly being or Logos of Hellenistic thought, and conditioned largely by the Christians' own experiences of the Spirit, evince the fusion of various elements and can be only properly grasped when these elements have been resolved into their constituent parts.

The author wishes to make grateful acknowledgment of the help received in the preparation of this thesis from the professors of the New Testament Department of the University of Chicago, and particularly from Professor S. J. Case under whose direction and with the aid of whose kind advice and suggestions the dissertation was written.


ANCIENT BELIEF IN SPIRITS AND DEMONS The world of antiquity according to the conceptions of the people then living was peopled by all kinds of spiritual beings and powers. The earth upon which they stood and walked, the objects, whether animate or inanimate, which went to make up their environment, the air which they breathed, the heavens with their luminaries and starry hosts, were all believed to be full of spirits. These spirits, ordinarily invisible, yet made their presence and reality manifest through the exercise of some inexplicable power, or through the expression of a unique mode of activity in the objects which they were thought to inhabit. Seed was sown in the soil, and some mysterious power in the earth caused it to sprout and grow and bear fruit." Plants and trees must have some soul or spirit in them for they give signs of life and continue to do so until, injured or cut down, they wither and die. A large massive rock or mountain creates a sense of awe in the breast of the savage on-looker, and this sensation can have no other explanation than that it arises from the influence of the spirit of the rock or mountain upon his soul. In truth, the majestic Olympus was the very abode of the great gods.

The action of water as noticed in the bubbling spring or in the restless waves of the ocean or in the rushing flow of the mountain torrent, also

1 The ancient worship of Gaia (Tý návrwv uhonp) was no doubt based on the belief that the productive forces of nature were due to the agency of spiritual powers resident in the earth. With the early Thracians Dionysos represented the power of life in vegetation. See Case, Evolution of Early Christianity, ch. 9, but especially p. 298; also Tylor, Primitive Culture, II, pp. 206 ff and 273. In fact, ancient Greek religion consisted very largely of the worship of the forces of nature. In their spring festivals the main idea and object of the worshippers was the placation of the spirits or ghosts of the dead underworld, which they held responsible for the death of vegetable life during winter, and which, they thought, would promote fertility if appeased by sacrifice (Harrison, Prolegomena to the Study of Greek Religion, p. 53 f.).

? Notice the mention of tree-nymphs in Homer, Aphrod. 257. And Ovid is doubtless not only reflecting the conceptions of his own age, but those of the ages preceding, when he speaks of dryads, fauns, and satyrs living in the groves and forests (Metam. VIII, 741). See also Cato, De Re Rustica, 139, and Pliny, XVII, 47. The spirit-inspired oak at Dodona (Homer, Odyss. XIV, 327 and XIX, 296) is, of course, an example merely of the belief in the special inspiration of a particular tree, and yet it represents the general conception which the ancients held as to spirits dwelling n trees and groves.

[ocr errors]

demands some mysterious indwelling spirit to account for its activity. Nymphs made their home in the spring; Xanthos or Acheloös ruled in the waters of the river; and Poseidon or some terrible monster of the deep dwelt in the waves of the sea. How else could a shipwreck or loss of life by drowning be explained except by assuming that the angry demon of the deep drew his victim beneath the water?3

Fire also was regarded as an element possessed of demonic power. In Greece Hestia was the goddess of the hearth; and in Rome Vesta was worshipped in a temple where fire was kept continually burning, the goddess supposedly dwelling in the fire. The gods, Vulcan and Hephaistos, were connected with subterranean volcanic fire.

, Again the various activities of the air were supposed to have been caused by the agency of spiritual beings. The Harpies were spirits of the wind," and they somehow were connected with the giving of life not only to men but to animals and plants as well. Rain and snow, thunder and lightning, hail and storm, clouds and rainbow were all ascribed to the activity of demonic powers that ruled and governed the regions of the air.

And so it was with the movements of the heavenly bodies. The sun, moon and stars were alive and animated by their special deities. The worship of the Greek Apollo, the Egyptian Osiris, the Persian Mithras, and the Syrian Elagabalus, all of them Sun-gods, indicates how widespread was the idea of a spirit or god dwelling in the sun and guiding it in its daily course. And the primitive conception of the moon and

. stars was quite similar.

No one who studies the religious conceptions of primitive peoples or of the races of the lower culture can fail to be impressed with the fact


3 Victims were regularly sacrificed to the sea until a late period in order to placate the power or powers supposed to dwell therein. Cicero says, “If Earth is a goddess, so also the Sea, whom thou saidst to be Neptune” (De Nat. Deo., III, 20).

* Homer, II. XXIII, 192; Odyss. XX, 37 and 66. Also Vergil, Aen. I, 56.

6 The Athenians sacrificed to the Tritopatores, i. e. to the ghosts of ancestors or the spirits of the winds, when they were about to marry (Suidas, s. v. Tritopatores). Hippocrates (Geoponica, IX, 3) says the winds give life not only to plants but to all things. And Vergil has a passage where the pregnancy of mares is ascribed to the agency of winds (Georg. III, 274). See also on this point Harrison, op cit., pp. 178 ff.

• Cumont, Oriental Religions in 'Roman Paganism, pp. 129 ff.; Astrology and Religion among Greeks and Romans, p. 116. Murray (Four Stages of Greek religion p. 126 ff.) discusses the worship of the seven planets in later antiquity as described in the Hermetic, the Gnostic, and other ancient religious writings, a custom that had its origin no doubt in quite early stages in the religious development of man. that they thought of themselves as being surrounded by a vast cloud of witnesses, spiritual beings that were responsible for all the various activities and forces of nature. It was very much as Thales is reported to have said, "All things are full of gods."

The question arises here as to where the primitive races derived their belief in spirits. What was it that led them to give such an interpretation-for in the last analysis the belief in spirits is nothing more than an effort to explain causality in the world—to the natural phenomena of the universe? In answering this question we are thrown back upon another one which deals with primitive man's conception of himself. The law of psychology, which may well be termed universal, that a man always interprets phenomena external to himself from a subjective standpoint and in the light of his own experience, must have played a fundamental part in the forming of primitive conceptions regarding the outer world and the active forces of nature. What man thought of himself, what he experienced in his contact with the forces of his environment, was the element that determined the direction and nature of the explanation which he gave regarding the external conditions, events, and vicissitudes of his life. If he thought of the earth, the air, the stars, as embodiments or possessors of spiritual beings, it was because he first thought of himself as having a spiritual being within him. So a fundamental inquiry to the understanding of the rise of the belief in spirits in external nature is to find out how man came to believe that he had a soul or spirit within himself.

The belief in souls arose no doubt from man's experience with such states as sleep, dreams, death and sickness. He noticed that at certain times his body or that of some other man was active and awake; at other times it lay dormant and in a state of comparative lifelessness. It was but natural that he, a savage, should ascribe the change thus undergone in sleep to the departure of some entity from the body. Again in the depths of night he had dreams in which he saw the form of some distant friend or enemy, or in which he was conscious of himself travelling or wandering in strange and remote places. He knew that

? An abundant mass of material illustrating not only the ideas of the ancient Greeks and Romans with regard to the belief in spirits dwelling and acting in nature, but ideas quite similar to the above as held also by the people of the lower culture in other lands of both ancient and modern times, may be found in such works as Frazer, The Golden Bough, 1913-5; Gruppe, Griechische Mythologie und Religionsgeschichte, 1906; Farnell, Cults of the Greek States, 1896-1909; Tylor, Primitive Culture, 1891; et al. See extended bibliography in Case, Ev. of Ear. Xty, p. 76 f.

8 Arist. De Anima, I, 5, 411 A.

[ocr errors]

his friend or enemy could not possibly have been present in bodily form. And upon waking suddenly from a dream he no doubt realized that his own body was just where it had been before he had fallen asleep. He concluded therefore that the form which he had seen was the phantom, the Shattenseele, of his friend or enemy, and that he himself was possessed of a sort of second self, or soul, an entity quite distinct from his physical organism and able to leave it at will.

It was in a similar way that primitive man interpreted the phenomenon of death. When he saw his comrade's or his enemy's dead body, he supposed that the being that had animated it had now deserted it. The departure of the soul, which in sleep was merely temporary, in death was regarded as permanent. Since death in its bodily manifestations functioned in practically the same way as sleep, it was simply conceived of as a prolonged sleep. The analogy of the two phenomena has so impressed itself upon the human mind that even today the two words are often used synonymously, with however this difference in usage that, whereas death is today often taken to mean the absence of life as an abstract element or principle, in the mind of primitive man it always connoted the departure of a being whose presence in the body gave it life and animation. This being was thought of as residing particularly in the blood or in the breath, for death was seen to take place upon the loss of the one or at the cessation of the other.

Sickness was also conceived of as being due to the agency of spirits or demons. The savage saw his body or the bodies of his comrades waste away;' he was a witness of the convulsions, the distortions, the ferocity, and the incoherent raving of the insane and epileptic. He himself perhaps knew what it was to suffer from fever or some mental disorder, and had a knowledge of how the delirious and frenzied acted. He recognized that all these phenomena were abnormal and strange; and hence, just as he ascribed the normal conditions and acts to the soul which ordinarily inhabited the body, he now was led to explain these abnormal conditions on the ground of a strange spirit that had taken possession of the body.10

This is doubtless the way in which primitive man came to believe in souls or spirits. Other elements and factors may have had a share

9 The vampire was regarded as a spirit, either the soul of a living or dead person, which sucked the blood out of its victims (Tylor, Prim. Cult., II, 189).

10 Homer thinks of sick men as being tormented by demons, Odyss. V, 396; X, 64. And the idea that lay back of the belief in the Keres was that these spiritual beings were the cause for all the ills and diseases of this mortal life, Hesiod., Erg. 90. Even

« 上一頁繼續 »