Sunday, October 19, 2008

Symbolism and Creation, Part 5

To understand the creation story, we must first understand the vision of the creation given to Abraham.

Every Latter-day Saint has read about Kolob in Abraham from the Pearl of Great Price. Many have speculated about it; most have given it little thought. Kolob’s possible location and identity in our universe seems to be the primary focus of such speculation. A careful review of this bit of revealed knowledge in light of the Saturn traditions may prove informative.

In chapter 3, it appears that God reveals to Abraham information about a star named Kolob that is physically located nearest to where he, the Lord, actually resides in the universe. An amplified explanation of Kolob can be found on page 37, opposite facsimile no. 2, the Egyptian hypocephalus Joseph Smith found among the papyri that came into his hands.

The first thing we see upon reading Joseph’s explanation is that some of these terms are authentic Egyptian. This should not be surprising since he is gleaning this information from an Egyptian document. The question is: Where did he learn these ancient Egyptian terms? For example, Joseph names one figure Hah-ko-kau-beam (Pearl of Great Price, Fig. 5, p. 37.)

It is reasonable to assume, given his lack of formal training in the Egyptian language, that he first heard the word spoken during a revelation, since his rendering of the name is clearly an attempt to write it phonetically (something any of us might be forced to do when attempting to write a word from a foreign language we had only heard spoken).

A close look tells us that the hyphenation does not conform to the way the Semitic word is actually written. A more proper hyphenation of the word would have been: Ha-kokab-im. The Egyptian kakab is the word for ‘star.’ Typically written in consonants, without vowels, it is rendered: KKB. Modern scholars choose the vowel sounds that are implied by their use in equivalent words in related modern languages. In effect, they make a guess as to the vowel sounds. Thus, Joseph’s kokab (or kokob as it is in Abraham) may be more accurate than the scholarly version, kakab. The preceding ha is a determinative, meaning ‘the,’ and im is a plural ending, the equivalent of the letter ‘s’ in English. Thus, Joseph Smith correctly wrote, albeit phonetically, the Egyptian words ‘ha kokab im,’ meaning ‘the stars.’

Kolob continues this same pattern. Written KLB, it is clearly closely related in meaning to KKB, kokab. So, Kolob has ‘star’ as part of its meaning, but Nibley and others assert that it is closer in meaning to the Arabic word qalb, meaning ‘heart.’ Yet, the Arabic-speaking peoples routinely use qalb as part of star names: qalb al-asad for Regulus, for example. The verb form of the word also means to turn upside down, to turn over and over. (This will become more meaningful in a moment.)

The Egyptians thought of Canopus as the premier heart-star. Atum, the Egyptian creator god, was called “the Firm Heart of the Sky.” Indeed, Egyptians conceived of their creator/king or sun god, who we will identify as the planet Saturn, as having two hearts — the hat-heart was female, Tefnut, and the ab-heart was male, Shu — one within the other, although translators rarely concern themselves with the distinction. Also, Horus was said to be ab en hat, "heart of the heart." It is likely that the use of ab in those words is the reason why scholars also point to ‘heart’ as one meaning of kolob and kakab.

Ironically, Shu is also the one “who sits in the midst of the Eye which is the seat of his Father.” Thus, the eye and the heart of the sun god, Re, are virtually synonymous in Egyptian lore, an unexpected and curious association.

© Anthony E. Larson, 2008

1 comment:

Medievaldigger said...

Never Ever give up! Love this!