yahweh, son of el

It’s interesting to note that Norman Cohn in his Cosmos, Chaos & the World to Come clearly differentiates the origins of Yahweh and El, though he assumes that the worship of Yahweh is vastly older than can be proved, because he takes the claims to antiquity of the Biblical texts more or less at face value (pp. 131-132):

It is becoming ever more difficult to say with any confidence when, where and how the Israelites first came to know the god Yahweh. It may be that, as Exodus says, he was originally a Midianite god, introduced into the land of Canaan by immigrants from Egypt, or he may have started as a minor member of the Canaanite pantheon. What is certain is that by the time they had become aware of themselves as a people the Israelites had adopted Yahweh as their patron god. With the establishment of the monarchy Yahweh became the patron god of the kingdom, and when the kingdom was divided he remained the patron of each, just as Chemosh was the patron god of the Moabites, Milkom of the Ammonites, Hadad of the Aramaeans, Melkart of the Tyrians. That does not mean that from the start Yahweh was regarded as the greatest of all gods. Originally El was the supreme god for Israelites as he had always been for Canaanites. Even if one discounts the pronouncement of El in the Ugaritic Ba’al cycle, “The name of my son is Yaw,” the import of which is still being debated, one cannot ignore the passage in the Bible which shows Yahweh as subordinate to El. Deuteronomy 32:8 tells how when El Elyon, i.e. El the Most High, parcelled out the nations between his sons, Yahweh received Israel as his portion.

Now it’s curious that the Qur’an makes no attempt to distinguish between Yahweh and El. I would have been very pleased to have been able to say that all the flattering things about Israel’s early faith that are found in the Qur’an refer to Elohist texts, rather than Yahwist ones, but they do not. The Moses stories, for instance, are solidly Yahwist. The example Cohn gives is an extraordinarily good one, since it comes from a core text of Yahwism, the Deuteronomic Song of Moses. If even this core Yahwist text confirms that Yahweh is a son of El, then what hope is there for Yahwism? The point here is unaffected by the question of historicity. Though I may be unusual among Muslims in this respect, I do not feel called upon to take e.g. the Moses story as literal historical truth. But the point is that Yahwism itself is clearly a diversion from the pure monotheism of El, the pan-regional, universalistic sky-god, into a particularistic national cult, and all of Israel’s tormented megalomaniacal history is grounded in this diversion, whenever it may be imagined originally to have occurred, whether during the mythical Exodus from Egypt, or during the Babylonian period, or even later, during the Hellenistic period, when all these stories reached their final literary forms. The best solution would seem to me to be that all the Yahwist texts we now possess originally referred to El, including all the Moses stories, but that Jewish scribes over the course of time substituted the name Yahweh. The Qur’an points out that the Jewish Bible is full of interpolations of various sorts.


  1. Tom
    Posted December 4, 2010 at 1:27 am | Permalink

    I’m sympathetic regarding the “literal historical truth” of the stories in the Qur’an. It is neither their purpose nor even appropriate for the form of the text that the stories be “literal historical truth” as we would understand that today.

    Of course I uphold the Qur’an as the verbatim speech of God and to be the absolute truth regardless of my understanding et c. et c.

  2. Amir
    Posted December 4, 2010 at 2:03 am | Permalink

    The claim that YHWH is portrayed as the son of “Elion” seems to me to be based on a lot of assumptions, in the original Hebrew bible both the words Elion and YHWH are used to describe Abraham’s god in the book of genesis; Contextually the word Elion is often used as the honorific meaning “Supreme”.

    Genesis 14:22
    וַיֹּאמֶר אַבְרָם, אֶל-מֶלֶךְ סְדֹם: הֲרִמֹתִי יָדִי אֶל-יְהוָה אֵל עֶלְיוֹן

    And Abram said to the king of Sodom, I have lift up mine hand unto YHWH, supreme god,

    “supreme god” is in the original Hebrew “El Elion”

    from a secular point of view of view i think it obvious that the bible is not at all a strictly monotheistic document, but the latter period (in which YHWH is most commonly used) is actually the most monotheistic, which suggests that the religious philosophies of the ancient hebrews simply evolved naturally over time from polytheism to strict monotheism.

    Furthermore, if references to YHWH were inserted into the text why weren’t all references to Elion and “El Shaddai” removed?

  3. niqnaq
    Posted December 4, 2010 at 7:14 am | Permalink

    The claim that “the latter period (in which YHWH is most commonly used) is actually the most monotheistic” is misleading. To compare, I know a man (Lt-Col Michael Aquino) who started out in the Church of Satan, worshipping Satan as the antagonist of all the goodie goodie gods in the normal satanist way, but who now believes that ‘Set’ (as he calls him now) is the only god, and all the others are trivial or imaginary. This is a ‘monotheism’ having quite clearly dislodged the original monotheist god and substituted another one, OK?

    As to why weren’t all references changed, well, it’s a practical matter. If a text is widely known, you can’t get away with changing it. So you end up with a compromise solution. The fact that the Deut 32:8 statement says what it does is already an expression of sloppy editing of some sort, after all. But my purpose is to explain why the Qur’an does not differentiate. Clearly the Qur’an wants to keep all the miracle stories, while moralising them a bit here and there. So it is stuck with ‘Yahweh’ in many places. But for some reason, the Qur’an disregards this matter of god-names altogether. It would have been easy to say what i am saying, that the nationalistic ‘Yahweh’ god-name was smuggled in along with the other interpolations later on. Then it would have been possible to disgregard the apparent anachronisms and say, “Look, they turned away from the worship of the one and only Allah (El) and started worshipping a foul, savage, nationalistic demon, and that is why they are so fucked up,” Or words to that effect.

  4. Amir
    Posted December 4, 2010 at 10:01 am | Permalink

    Oh i understand the implication you’re trying to make, that jews have been worshiping some devil god distinct from the being which was later called Allah. It’s funny because the Holy Quran doesn’t make this distinction and goes as far as discouraging disputes with the Jews.

    Like I said, the translation you are using of the Deuteronomy passage leaves a lot to be desired, The hebrew is confusing but the passage clearly doesn’t refer to Elion and YHWH as two distinct beings.

    Why aren’t you including the passage from Deutronomy in which YHWH tells moses he was known as El Shadei to Abraham and the patriarchs but he is indeed the same god?

    Your disagreement with the latter period being more monotheistic is also peculiar, can you please provide relevant scripture demonstrating how the latter hebrew prophets and scribes were actually less monotheistic than the early hebrews? historical evidence from that period can also be interesting.

    According to your view certain prophets, like Elijah, didn’t even work “El”\”Allah” but instead were servants of a demon god (who had some pretty divine powers after all); Why would these characters appear in the Holy Quran?

    Are you suggesting YHWH is a mischievous djinn?

  5. Tom
    Posted December 4, 2010 at 10:46 am | Permalink

    This is an interesting theory, but it’s fairly clear in the Qur’an that Jews do “worship” Allah and not some other God.

  6. niqnaq
    Posted December 4, 2010 at 11:53 am | Permalink

    Tom: yes, they do. Much of the Jewish liturgy is Elohist still. But even if it was Yahwist, I could use my argument as a catch-all to deal with any particular contradiction, by saying that the name Yahweh had been substituted into the text later on. In any case, they cannot address Yahweh by name, even when the text uses the name JHVH; they have to read it as “Hashem” (‘the name’), which doesn’t really work in the vocative. Prayers generally address him as “Eloheinu” (‘our god’).

    I am glad you accept my point about reading Divine texts non-literarily. It seems to me that God is under no obligation to ‘tell the truth’ to mankind. He us under no obligation to do anything, but what He evidently does do is tell us what He thinks we should believe, because if we believed it, we might perhaps survive and even thrive, which otherwise we tend not to do. It’s like a parent telling a child what he thinks it should believe, for its own good. As children grow up, they generally quietly see through the things their parents told them, but accept also that being told those things did teach them worthwhile values, in a suitably naive way.

    Amir: you have missed my point, being ‘monotheistic’ is not an absolute good in itself. It all depends whether your god is the real god, or a Midianite volcano demon, as apparently Yahweh originally was. Modern Biblical critics tend to treat the Jewish Bible as a product of the hellenistic period, and deeply ironic and tragic in its implicit message, which they read as being that god and man are equally imperfect. In modern terms, this is a very sophisticated and profound message, but in Qur’anic terms, it is utter blasphemy. I’m not going to try to stack up proof texts against you, since I am starting from the assumption that the Bible as we have it is a late and endlessly edited palimpsest, so ‘proof texts’ prove nothing one way or the other. But in the example you mention, if Yahweh were an impostor, obviously, he would claim to be El, because that’s what impostors do. That’s true whether you think of him as a scribal interpolation or a real volcano demon!

  7. Tom
    Posted December 4, 2010 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

    I think the Qur’an is absolutely and literally true, my criticism lays more on what we consider to be a “literal” reading as it pertains to historicity and whatnot. God addressed humanity in such a way so that their belief founded on faith was inerrable, but based on speculation and reasoning is not.

    2:143 […] And never would Allah make your faith of no effect. For Allah is to all people most surely full of kindness, most merciful.

    2:78 And there are among them illiterates, who do not know Al-Kitab, but just their desires, and they do nothing but conjecture.

    2:79 Then woe to those who write Al-Kitab with their own hands, and then say: “This is from Allah,” to traffic with it for a miserable price! Woe to them for what their hands do write, and for the gain they make thereby.

    2:80 And they say: “The fire shall not touch us but for a few numbered days:” say: “Have you taken a promise from Allah, for he never breaks his promise? Or is it that you say of Allah what you do not know?”

    6:114 Say: Shall I seek for judge other than Allah? It is he who has sent to you Al-Kitab, explained in detail. They know full well, to whom we have given Al-Kitab, that it has been sent down from your Lord in truth. Never be then of those who doubt.

  8. niqnaq
    Posted December 4, 2010 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

    Fact: There is absolutely no archaeological evidence that King Solomon ever existed.

  9. Tom
    Posted December 4, 2010 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

    Well I don’t establish my beliefs on archaeological evidence (though I don’t reject any such evidence of course). I establish my faith based on Qur’an and Sunnah.

    From the Creed of Imaam al Tahawi:

    33. The Qur’an is the word of Allah. It came from Him as speech without it being possible to say how. He sent it down on His Messenger as revelation. The believers accept it, as absolute truth. They are certain that it is, in truth, the word of Allah. It is not created as is the speech of human beings, and anyone who hears it and claims that it is human speech has become an unbeliever. Allah warns him and censures him and threatens him with Fire when He says, Exalted is He: “I will burn him in the Fire.” (al-Muddaththir 74:26) When Allah threatens with the Fire those who say “This is just human speech” (74:25) we know for certain that it is the speech of the Creator of mankind and that it is totally unlike the speech of mankind.

    35. The Seeing of Allah by the People of the Garden is true, without their vision being all-encompassing and without the manner of their vision being known. As the Book of our Lord has expressed it: “Faces on that Day radiant, looking at their Lord.” (al-Qiyama 75:22-3) The explanation of this is as Allah knows and wills. Everything that has come down to us about this from the Messenger, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, in authentic traditions, is as he said and means what he intended. We do not delve into that, trying to interpret it according to our own opinions or letting our imaginations have free rein. No one is safe in his religion unless he surrenders himself completely to Allah, the Exalted and Glorified and to His Messenger, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, and leaves the knowledge of things that are ambiguous to the one who knows them.

    36. A man’s Islam is not secure unless it is based on submission and surrender. Anyone who desires to know things which it is beyond his capacity to know, and whose intellect is not content with surrender, will find that his desire veils him from a pure understanding of Allah’s true unity, clear knowledge and correct belief, and that he veers between disbelief and belief, confirmation and denial and acceptance and rejection. He will he subject to whisperings and find himself confused and full of doubt, being neither an accepting believer nor a denying rejector.

    I don’t know what exactly constitutes the truth of what Allah has said in the Qur’an, but I do recognize that it is absolutely true. Allahu alim.

  10. niqnaq
    Posted December 4, 2010 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

    That’s all just waffle. You have to find some way of interpreting the stories in the scriptures which doesn’t entail their being historically true, because they are not historically true. I chose Solomon because Jewish, Christian, and Muslim scriptures — taken on the literal level — state that he not only existed, but had an enormous empire. This is plainly and simply historically untrue.

  11. Tom
    Posted December 4, 2010 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

    Where in Muslim scripture is this stated?

  12. Tom
    Posted December 4, 2010 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

    Here’s an interesting thread on the subject: http://www.shiachat.com/forum/index.php?/topic/234973556-king-solomon-did-he-exist/

  13. niqnaq
    Posted December 4, 2010 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

    The Qur’an repeats the story that Solomon’s empire was so huge and amazing that the Queen of Sheba heard of it and was awestruck, fearing invasion by it, and eventually surrendered her state to it altogether as a tributary. This is the story with the talking hoopoe and the talking ant. The story is a legend, not a truth. If you don’t like that fact, that’s your problem. I don’t have a problem with it, because I do not stipulate as you do that everything God says has to be ‘true’ in some indefinable sense. Legends are not about truth, they are about making moral points. God is allowed to do that, just like people are.

  14. Tom
    Posted December 4, 2010 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

    Where in the Qur’an does it say this?

  15. niqnaq
    Posted December 4, 2010 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

    Now you’re just being obtuse. In Sura 27, “An Naml” (The Ant).

  16. Tom
    Posted December 4, 2010 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

    Thanks, I honestly just wanted a reference, I wasn’t sure where it was.

    What is it in the Qur’an’s account of Solomon that you find unreasonable? It states that Solomon found a Hoopoe was absent from his army of birds, that the Hoopoe said he had gone outside of Solomon’s territory and kingdom governed by a queen whose people worshiped the Sun beside Allah.

    There’s no reference to the size of Solomon’s kingdom. Is there something specific in the Qur’an that you find unreasonable? I will accept the traditional understanding developed by men with better knowledge than myself unless it can be refuted by solid evidence, or can be demonstrated to be an unreasonable or extreme position.

    This is from the wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islamic_view_of_the_Queen_of_Sheba):

    According to Ibn Kathir’s, Qisas Al-Anbiya (Stories of the Prophets), Solomon traveled on a pilgrimage to the Masjid al-Haram (“The Sacred Mosque”) in Mecca (rebuilt by Abraham (Ibrāhīm). Afterwards, he continued south to the city of Sana’a, the modern-day capital of Yemen, where he was impressed by the complex water channeling system. Geographically, Sana’a is nearby Ma’rib, the believed capital of the land of Sheba. Solomon sent the hoopoe bird to survey the land as it could detect water underground so that he may build a similar system of irrigation in his own kingdom. The hoopoe returns to an angry king as it he had taken more time than expected with news of a kingdom (Saba) ruled by a queen (Bilqis) worshipping the sun.

  17. niqnaq
    Posted December 4, 2010 at 4:02 pm | Permalink

    Now I know, you are just teasing me
    In the Zoroastrian scriptures, there’s a cow that talks a lot, or rather complains to God a lot. Zoroaster complains, and then the cow complains. They take turns complaining. Yasna, 46, 50, 29, 44, quoted from Norman Cohn:

    In the Gathas Zoroaster appeals to Ahura Mazda for material succour: “I know I am powerless, Mazda; I possess few cattle and few men. I lament to thee.” — “Who is found as protector for my cattle, who for myself …?” The cow joins in lamenting the powerlessness of her protector — ” a man without strength, whereas I wished for one ruling with power.” “When shall one ever appear who will give him effective help?” asks the cow, while Zoroaster himself makes a precise request: “This I ask thee, tell me truly, Lord, how shall I gain that reward, namely ten mares and a camel …?”

  18. Amir
    Posted December 4, 2010 at 5:23 pm | Permalink

    so which theology are you advocating here, really?

    the way i see it there are three perspectives in discussion here, two based on scripture, the Quran and the Tanakh, the other based on historical and archeological evidence not accepting the divinity of either scripture.

    Both scriptural sources claim Allah and YHWH to be the same deity, there is some linguistic confusion in the tanakh but it is more or less consistent with its reference to the “one god” as YHWH (as I demonstrated, even passages which refer to El Elion usually also refer YHWH, and Elion can often be interpreted as a honorific). The Quran completely removes references to either name but claims that Allah is the same (singular) being mentioned in the Tanakh. Therefore, from a scriptural point of view, the etymological origins of the name are largely irrelevant.

    From a historical secular point of view, it is obvious that there was a progression from a form of polytheism and henotheism to stricter monotheism at the latter periods, even the ten commandments make it clear that the tanakh doesn’t refute the existence of deities other than YHWH. This is of course nothing but a historical curiosity because the secular pov doesn’t maintain any of the deities in discussion are actually divine; it is obvious that the israelites assimilated some other canaanite religions into their mythology, how does exactly support your claim that the Israelites are inherently evil because they worshiped a demonic deity?

  19. niqnaq
    Posted December 4, 2010 at 6:00 pm | Permalink

    Again, you are missing my point, or rather intentionally ignoring it. I know this because in order to answer your questions I would have to repeat what I have already said. So I shan’t.

  20. Amir
    Posted December 4, 2010 at 6:07 pm | Permalink

    No you didn’t, at all, in which way to the etymology of the word YHWH imply the following:

    “the Moses story as literal historical truth. But the point is that Yahwism itself is clearly a diversion from the pure monotheism of El, the pan-regional, universalistic sky-god, into a particularistic national cult, and all of Israel’s tormented megalomaniacal history is grounded in this diversion”

  21. moonkoon
    Posted December 6, 2010 at 3:24 am | Permalink

    The evidence for the great Solomonic empire is all in the written record. Facts on the ground are hard to come by. I prefer to think of the first kingdom as a “functional literary device”. 🙂
    I sometimes think we are a bit stern in our judgment of the religious views of those who didn’t have the benefit of the revelations of the more recent prophets. 🙂
    I also think the polytheistic vs. monotheistic argument is a bit of a red herring. My understanding is that most of the ancient city states had their own primary god,. The argument was about whose god was the “true” monotheistic god, and victory over a state was taken as a verification that the god of the subjugated state was “false”. The polytheistic accusation is more a description of one’s group of enemies rather than an individual adversary.

    God must encompass all of creation. Both what we perceive as good and what we perceive as bad. The alternative being to adopt the dualistic position of the Zoroastrians with their Ahura Mazda/Ariman dichotomy.
    I prefer the idea that there is but one creator of all things, that some of these things (beings) have been granted free will, and that some of that group, having given up their innocence (as mankind did in Garden of Eden days :-)), have chosen to seek the glory for themselves.
    Mind you, I am officially classified as a henotheist, so you will have to take that into account when weighing my views. 🙂

  22. niqnaq
    Posted December 6, 2010 at 4:06 am | Permalink

    Henotheism is an anthropologically evolutionary view, in that it assumes that human religion evolved gradually, from fetishism through animism to polytheism, henotheism, and eventually monotheism, whereas the Qur’an states that the ‘original’ human religion was Islam, though not necessarily known by this name. The ‘traditionalists’ also state that the ‘original’ religion was entirely perfect, though they have also stated explicitly and repeatedly that its metaphysics were those now only found in Vedanta, which are not at all those of Islam. Since I suppose many Muslim intellectuals are unaware of this second point, ‘traditionalism’ has an apparent appeal for them.

  23. walter benjamin
    Posted December 6, 2010 at 8:52 am | Permalink

    Guenon once said that ‘all’ religions were an aberration of the ‘primordial tradition’ which to me seems somewhat self contradictory.

    a revelation needs a vessel so the primordial religion was always an aberration or never revealed..
    where Guenon ‘canonized’ the concept of ‘primordial religion’ from is a mystery to me.

  24. niqnaq
    Posted December 10, 2010 at 4:28 pm | Permalink

    Reflecting on this:

    Much of the Jewish liturgy is Elohist still. In any case, they cannot address Yahweh by name, even when the text uses the name JHVH; they have to read it as “Hashem” (‘the name’), which doesn’t really work in the vocative. Prayers generally address him as “Eloheinu” (‘our god’).

    To be a bit more exact, the general form of address in Jewish prayer is “Adonai Eloheinu” where “Adonai” substitutes for “JHVH”. Literally this means, “O Lord, our god.” “Adon” is a common form of polite address in modern hebrew; if you get a taxi in Israel, the driver will say “le’an, adon?” meaning, “where to, sir?”

    The modern mania for positivism is very sad; people think that either their scriptures have to be historically true, or their religion is invalid. Even Hindus appear to think this way now, hence the ridiculous claim that ‘Lord Ram’ was actually born at Ayodhya. I don’t think non-moderns thought this way; it probably never occurred to them that anyone might imagine that any of the legends in their various scriptures were supposed to be historically true, and that this ought to be the criterion for deciding whether the religion itself was ‘true’ or not. I think they understood that when their gods spoke to them, they would naturally illustrate their meaning using legends, which had no relation to historical truth nor were intended to have. In any case, the Qur’an conducts a moral critique of Jewish legends, without feeling any need to ask whether they are historically ‘true’ or not.

  25. moonkoon
    Posted December 14, 2010 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

    A few thoughts about revelation and related matters. 🙂
    Self-evidently, revelation has a profound effect on individuals and communities. And again self-evidently, it has to be revealed, (and has apparently been revealed multiple times if, for example, the number of historical/legendary figures of similar character to Jesus is anything to go by). The one revelation is periodically reborn, seen in a new light, perhaps. 🙂

    And, fittingly I think, its origins are mysterious, ambiguous and shrouded in the mists of time. So I’m not too concerned about the El/Yahweh paradox. It’s all part of the story.

    The thing about it is, that following the revelation, as Walter points out, the revelation needs a vessel. This vessel that carries it, needs to not only preserve and transmit the tradition from generation to generation ^, but to be fully functional and effective (i.e., able to influence our behaviour), the revelation needs to be disseminated and embraced by as wide an audience as possible. Of the two imperatives, making the revelation known to a wider audience is most likely the more problematic of the two responsibilities and is likely the principle concern that God has about His people, the Chosen. *

    And, like our lives, revelation is a process. Yes, it may begin with an event, but then it becomes a living process, a living thing. It is given life by its own presence. However we play a vital role in sustaining the unfolding process by becoming a vessel for that presence (the best description I can offer for that presence is embodied in the word, Agape).

    ^ This calls for a group of people who have the requisite skills and who are sufficiently interested in the information to preserve it, thus lending itself to specialization. 🙂

    * Ezekiel describes a tour that God took him on where He (god) points out a few things that annoy Him. First he points out the people wasting time weeping and prostrating themselves (sincerely) in the mistaken impression that this is how God is honoured. He then goes on to complain about the “violence in the land”, saying that people’s mistreatment of one another is even worse than the activities that are occupying some in the temple environs. But he then adds that what has upset Him the most was how His people were “sticking a branch up my nose”. (some say, … to my nose, and the scribal correction makes it, … up your nose. This is usually taken to be a reference to a “cultic practice” but I suspect that He was making a reference to being hidden, being hidden by the very people who were charged with the task of making His presence known (hiding God, as it were).

    P.S. perhaps the word revelation is better capitalized, in the same way that the Word is capitalized to signify the presence of God.

  26. niqnaq
    Posted December 14, 2010 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

    Well, I have to admit that my interest in religion is practical and social: I am primarily concerned with ideas that may enable the human species to remain in existence, if possible as something other than a herd of terrorised talking animals. If you have more important, elevated, transcendental matters on your mind, then good luck to you. But I hope you don’t succumb to the usual elitist mystagogue trap, which I think is what Walter is trying to promote; this has been responsible for the complete destruction of all that is of practical and social use (i.e. what I am interested in) in any number of religions and their dependent social orders. I regard the elitist mystagogue as a satan, and as you know, I spell satan with a very small ‘s’.

    Talking of elitism, the Persian fondness for gnosticism and mystical pantheism à la vedanta may not be the product of ignorance; it may be a chauvinistic Persian response to having been conquered by Muslim Arabs, a way of subtly subverting their own conquest by smuggling bits of very un-Arab gnosticism and pantheism into it while concealing the fact behind a smokescreen of intellectual and cultural elitism, as if to say, “well, you know, we Persians are naturally a lot more profound than those primitive Arabs, but it wouldn’t do to say so outright.”

  27. niqnaq
    Posted December 14, 2010 at 4:29 pm | Permalink

    It might help if I explained what I mean by elitist mystagoguery. I have quite a lot of first-hand experience of it, and I have come across it many times in the literature. In its most blatant form, it says, “Now you have realised that the real lesson mysticism has to teach is that the vast mass of humans are nothing but stupid sheep, who will believe anything you say, and do anything you tell them to do, as long as you address them in an impressive enough way, you have reached the real initiation, which is no longer to be a sheep like them, but to be awake, fully conscious, no longer fooled — i.e. a wolf. Or you can be a sheep-dog, like Dostoyevsky’s Grand Inquisitor, but then you will have become the enemy of all people’s freedom, including your own. It is better therefore to be true to yourself, which means you have to become a wolf, and after all, you deserve to eat the sheep, because you are superior to them in intelligence, so much so as to be ipso facto an ubermensch, an over-man, homo superior.”

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