03 February 2009

More on Epiphanes

Epiphanes. Who is he? Since reading about him yesterday, I need to know more. His work strikes me deep.

My first instinct is to note the obvious. The name Epiphanes sounds a lot like the word Epiphany. According to the Oxford Dictionary, Epiphany is when Jesus manifested himself to the gentiles. Bartleby.com says the same thing but adds that it is a Christian feast taking place on January 6 which celebrates this manifestation as "represented by the Magi."

Pause. So many thoughts come to me with this. Let me dig through the dusty closed trunks of my memory. I believe that the Magi are the wise men from the East who came to visit Jesus. This celebration marks the day the Magi actually arrived at the Manger. (I may have another lesson on Magi tomorrow…too much to go into now.)

The twelve days of Christmas are bookmarked by Christmas and the Epiphany.

When I look at the actual etymology of Epiphany, it is middle English form French from late Latin from Greek from the word manifestation; epiphainesthai. Epi means (Greek) at, on, to, upon, over, besides. Phanesthai, means to reveal or unveil. According to Encyclopedia Britannica: phainesthai (Greek) is 'to show itself' or 'to be in the light'.

Why do I find this intriguing? Because it shows roots between the Catholic/Christian faith and the Greeks whose own 'myths' stem from Egyptian beliefs. This isn't new news. I am constantly reminded in my research how many links there are between the Christian Literalists, the writers of the bible and creator of Christian tradition, and the Pagan Gnostics own writings and celebrations. The Literalists, who, destroyed the Gnostics.

Back to Epiphanes, the man.

Some of what I find of him comes from the writing of Nathaniel Lardner in The Works of Nathaniel Lardner in Five Volumes. Before I can continue my research of Epiphanes, though, I must know who this Nathaniel Lardner is.

Wikipedia states that he lived from 1684 to 24 July, 1768 and was an English theologian. He worked for the Presbyterian church. Well, that explains why he located Epiphanes and his father, Carpocrates under the chapter "History of Heretics." Lardner's research comes from "Clement of Alexandria and other ancient Authors". Hmm. Fascinating.

What Lardner found out for me, is this:

Epiphanes was the son of Carpocrates of Alexandria and Alexandria of Cephalene (Cephallenia). He died at 17 but not before writing an essay entitled On Justice and On Righteousness. Upon his death, he was honored as a god at Samē on the island of Cephalene in a new moon celebration. Allegedly, a stone temple with and alter, groves and museum were erected.

Lardner goes on to try and discredit Clement calling him a heathen for participating in such idolatrous worship of Epiphanes. He is sure the temple was built by heathens as well. He states that the Epiphanes to whom the credit was given was really some other person and not Epiphanes son of Carpocrates, "the Christian heretic". He thinks this because there is not hardly any mention of Epiphanes in historic literature by other 'ancient' authors. He also states that it was not customary for Christians to build temples in the "former part of the second century, in which time Epiphanes is supposed to have died". (Yet, he thinks, surely the temple "must have been raised by heathens".)

Another writer, G.R.S. Mead even doubts the existence of Epiphanes stating it is an extraordinary legend created by Clement of Alexandria. He reveals that "the festival at Samē was in honour of the moon-god, and accompanied with licentious rites. It was called the Epiphany (τὰ Ἐπιφάνια) in honour of Epiphanes (ὁ Ἐπιφανής), the "newly-appearing one," the new moon". Mead goes on to say that Clement was badly confused by the similarity in name.

But who knows.

There is no trace of this work only fragmented lines preserved by, ironically, Clement of Alexandria (circa 160-215).

Taken from the Dictionary of African Christian Biography:

Epiphanes viewed the righteousness of God to be a sharing along with equality.

"But the implication of such "egalitarianism" could include sexual promiscuity, which Clement criticized, precisely for the libertarian notion of sharing wives. Epiphanes advocated a community of goods, going so far as to demand that women should like all other property be common to all."

In Jesus and the Lost Goddess, the authors talk about the Gnostics seeing "sexuality as a celebration of the union of God and Goddess". It is said that nudity may have been practiced as a sacrament and ritual intercourse may have existed. This is what may have led to Gnostics being portrayed as immoral.

According to the authors of Jesus and the Lost Goddess, Epiphanes wrote, "God created the delights of love equally for all humankind. But men have repudiated the very thing which is the source of their existence."

I don't know if I am any closer to knowing who Epiphanes may or may not have been. Only more research can tell.

That's my intuitive opinion inspired research for today.

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