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  1. ONE OR THREE? In his book TWO BABYLONS, Alexander Hislop traces the various mythologies back to a common heritage. Hislop pointed out the antiquity of the theological concept of the Trinity by giving examples of pagan trinities in Siberia, Japan, and India. He noted that the recognition of the Trinity was “universal in all the ancient nations of the world”. He went so far as to say that “the supreme divinity in almost all heathen nations was triune”. Historian Arthur Wainwright can find no doctrine remotely resembling the doctrine of the Trinity taught in Judaism until the time of Philo in the first century AD. And we know that Philo, even though he was a Jewish priest, was heavily influenced by Greek pagan thought. The idea of a “plural” God was far from the Hebrew mind. The pagan idea of a triad is very old. Sumerians, according to Morris Jastrow, paid homage to a triad of El-lil, “god or lord of the storm”, Ea, “water deity” of Eridu on the Persian Gulf, and Anu, sun god of Ur-uk. El-lil, was called “the father of Sumer” (“Shinar”), and “chief of gods”, “creator and sustainer of life”. The universe was apparently up among these three “pre-eminent” deities. Later, Marduk, the “firstborn” of Ea, and the patron deity of Babylon, is made “god of the earth”, and his symbol, oddly enough, is the dragon. He was called “Bel” or “Baal” (lord). Ashur, the god of the Assyrian capital was a “sun god”, and his consort or wife was Ishtar, the “great mother” goddess of Nineveh, a city founded by Ninus or Nimrod. Ishtar, known as Ashtoreth to the Phoenicians, and Astarte to the Greeks, was often portrayed riding on a lion. She was called the daughter of the moon, and identified in astrology as the Roman Venus (“goddess of love”). She was also known as Nana or Madonna (Lady). From whence comes the title and worship of Mary as the Madonna and queen of heaven. Ishtar has a bloody history as a goddess. She was reputedly the murderer of her consort Tammuz (variously known as Baal, Adonis, the Egyptian Osiris, the Greek Bacchus, or simply Nimrod). Queen Semiramis later brought forth an illegitimate son, which she claimed was Nimrod resurrected. He was called El-Bar, or “God the Son”, and “the Branch of Cush”. Thus was formulated one of the ancient triadic patterns of “father, mother, son” Franz Cumont tells us that triads were very common in the religion of the Chaldeans. The Babylonian triad became the Syrian triad of Hadad, Atargatis, and Simios. In Rome, this triad was Jupiter, Venus, and Mercury. Not only did the triadic pattern of deity spread throughout the world, but Cumont remarks on the continuing influence of the Babylonian priesthood after the fall of Babylon from political leadership. The ancient Greeks impressed with the wisdom of the Babylonians. Franz Cumont said, “Philosophy claimed more and more to derive its inspiration from the fabulous wisdom of Chaldea (Babylon) and Egypt”. According to Cumont, the “entire neo-platonic school is heavily indebted to the Chaldeans (Babylonians)”. It was the neo-platonic school of philosophy which influenced the Catholic fathers, Justin Martyr, Clement of Alexandria, and Origen. Porphyry reveals that the neo-platonists had incorporated Babylonian and Persian demonology into their philosophical system. The Greek philosopher Plato, greatly influenced the Catholic fathers. He was acquainted with Babylonian wisdom, and had traveled to Babylonia, Israel, and Egypt. Philo Judaeus (20 BC-50 AD) of Alexandria was the man who attempted to fuse the strict monotheistic theology of the Hebrew religion with the transcendental theology and philosophy of the Greek platonists. He, Philo, had a profound influence upon the Catholic fathers, and therefore upon the development of the Catholic Trinity. For one looking into Philo’s work will see that his conception of the Logos, with some modifications, is very similar to later trinitarian teaching on the Catholic Logos. Charles Semisch has stated, “The early (Catholic) Fathers only poured the contents of the scriptures into a Philonian vessel: they view the biblical passages through a Philonian medium”. I thought that the quote by historian Will Durant is quite appropriate: “Christianity did not destroy paganism; it adopted it. . . . From Egypt came the ideas of a divine trinity.” In the book Egyptian Religion, where Siegfried Morenz says: “The trinity was a major preoccupation of Egyptian theologians . . . Three gods are combined and treated as a single being, addressed in the singular. In this way the spiritual force of Egyptian religion shows a direct link with Christian theology.” Morenz goes on to say “Alexandrian theology as the intermediary between the Egyptian religious heritage and Christianity.” Edward Gibbon’s History of Christianity said : “If Paganism was conquered by Christianity, it is equally true that Christianity was corrupted by Paganism. The pure Deism of the first Christians . . . was changed, by the Church of Rome, into the incomprehensible dogma of the trinity. Many of the pagan tenets, invented by the Egyptians and idealized by Plato, were retained as being worthy of belief.” Dictionary of Religious Knowledge says that the Trinity “is a corruption borrowed from the heathen religions, and ingrafted on the Christian faith.” The book…. The Paganism in Our Christianity said this of the trinity doctrine: “The origin of the [Trinity] is entirely pagan.”

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