AN INTERPRETATION OF ANCIENT SCRIPTURES
Alvin Boyd Kuhn
Coming forth in a day when theology has long been discredited--even in its own ecclesiastical household--and religion itself is threatened with obliteration by rampant forces hostile to it, this book aims to rehabilitate theology and to stabilize true religion. It must be said at the very outset and with blunt insistence that it is for
religion and not in any way against it. It is written to establish religion again as the cornerstone of human culture, when civilization has largely turned away from it to seek elsewhere the guiding light. It is designed to redeem Divine Theology from her outcast condition and place her again beside Philosophy and Science on the throne in the kingdom of manís mind.
It needs sharply to be asseverated that the book is for religion because many will pronounce it the most forthright attack on ecclesiastical doctrinism yet presented. It can hardly be denied that it sweeps away almost the entire body of common acceptance of biblical and theological meaning. But it makes no war on anything in religion save the idiocies and falsities that have crept into the general conception of orthodox belief. Finding the chief enemies of true religion were those within her own gates, the book has had to address itself to the ungenerous task of repudiating the whole untenable structure of accredited interpretation in order to erect on the ground the lovely temple of ancient truth. If theology is to be rescued from its forlorn state of intellectual disrepute into which not its enemies but its friends have precipitated it through an unconscionable perversion of its original significance to gross repulsiveness, the errors and distortions perpetrated upon it by those of its own household must be ruthlessly dismantled. Hence to many the book will seem like a devastating assault on the very citadel of common religious preachment. In the face of all this it must be maintained that the work is written to support and defend religion against all its foes and that it is constructive and not destructive of true religious values at every turn. It was no light or frivol-
ous gesture to affront a settled and rooted growth of beliefs and doctrinal statements that have been cherished for centuries around the hearthstone of Christian culture and become hallowed by age-long acceptance and the strong loves and loyalties inbred in sensitive childhood. But it was seen to be a drastic operation quite necessary to save the organism of religion itself from further decay and menacing death. Excrescences of misconception and superstition had to be heroically cut out of the body of theology and the calcareous incrustations of ignorant interpretation dissolved and carried away by the acid stream of living truth flowing forth, after centuries of suppression, from the mighty scriptures of the past.
The Western world has too long and fatuously labored under the delusion that a pious and devout disposition fulfills the whole requirement of true religion. Ancient sagacity knew that piety without intelligence, or religion without philosophy, was insufficient and dangerous. It knew that general good intent was not safe from aberrancy, folly and fanaticism unless it was directed by the highest powers and resources of the mind. And the mind itself had to be fortified with specific knowledge of the nature of the cosmos and of man and the relation between the two. Following the dictum of the sage, Hermes Trismegistus, that "the vice of a soul is ignorance, the virtue of a soul is knowledge," the scriptures of old inculcated the precept that with all manís getting he must first get wisdom and understanding. These were related to his well-being as health to his navel and marrow to his bones, and would alone give him a crown of eternal life. They were pronounced more precious than all the things that he could desire. The council of Illuminati therefore laid down their systems of cosmology and anthropology, which have become by immemorial tradition the Bibles of humanity, universally reverenced. In them were given the ordinances of life, the constitution of the cosmos, the laws governing both nature and mind. They still constitute the Magna Carta of all human action guided by intelligence. For they were the first Institutes embodying the Principia and Fundamenta of all moral behavior, the only true chart and compass to guide human effort in a line of harmony with an overshadowing divine plan of evolution for the Cosmos.
The corruption and final loss of the basic meaning of these scriptures has been, in the whole of time, the greatest tragedy in human
history. Like Shakespeareís tide, which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune, but, omitted, casts all the rest of life in shoals and quicksands, the wreckage of the Esoteric Gnosis in the centuries following Platoís day, culminating in the debacle of all philosophical religion about the third century of Christianityís development and ushering in sixteen centuries of the Dark Ages, has thrown all religion out of basic relation to true understanding and caused it to breed an endless train of evils, fanaticisms, bigotries, idiosyncrasies, superstitions, wars and persecutions that more than anything else blacken the record of manís historic struggle toward the light. The present (1940) most frightful of all historical barbarities owes its incidence directly to the decay of ancient philosophical knowledge and the loss of vision and virtue that would have attended its perpetuation.
What, then, must be the importance of a book which restores to the scriptures of ancient wisdom the lost light of their true original meaning?
In a very real and direct way the salvation of culture and a free spirit in the world is contingent upon this restoration of the ancient intelligence to modernity. For man at this age has had new and mighty powers of nature suddenly placed in his hands, and yet lacks the spiritual poise and sagacity to use them without calamity. Most strangely, the control of the lower physical, natural or brute forces by the mind or reason was the one central situation primarily and fundamentally dealt with in the sage tomes of antiquity. To effect that control in a perfect balance and harmony, and to train the reasoning intellect in the divine art of it, was the aim and end of the Arcane Philosophy. Ideology in the Western world has endlessly vacillated back and forth between the cult of the inner spirit and engrossment in objective materialism. Ancient philosophy taught that the true path of evolutionary growth was to be trodden by an effort that united the forces of the spirit with those of the world, the lower disciplined by the higher. The whole gist of the Esoteric Doctrine was the study and mastery of the powers engaged in working out the evolutionary advance, so that the aspirant might be able to align his cultural effort in consonance with the requirements of the problem and the end to be achieved.
Without this guiding data and this evolutionary perspective modern man is totally at a loss how to focus his endeavor and is unable to point
his direction in line with anything more fixed and basic than his next immediate objective of apparent desirability. He has neither a knowledge of his origin, a chart of his path, an inventory of his capacities or a vision of his goal. Hence he travels the long road still a benighted wanderer without compass. He can but recoil from one mistaken plunge after another, learning sporadic lessons from pain and misfortune. The ancient torch that was lighted for his guidance he has let burn out. This lamp was the body of Ancient Philosophy. In this critical epoch in the life of the world this book proclaims afresh the message of lost truth.
Three ancient and long-discredited sciences have had a surprising renaissance in popular fancy and scientific interest: symbolism, alchemy, astrology. The last has particularly come into a general vogue, but on a basis which still inclines conservative positivism in science and scholarship to regard it as allied closely with "popular superstition." In its predictive or "fortune-telling" aspect it is generally looked at askance. But there is another side on which it has pertinence and value that has not been recognized in the modern revival and on which perhaps its most legitimate claim to consideration rests. This is its function as symbolic theology. Unquestionably cosmic operation, cosmic significance, lie behind the twelve constellations of the zodiac and the thirty-six or more other stellar configurations. The planisphere or chart of the heavens was doubtless the first of all Bibles, pictorially edited. Not quite simply and directly but intrinsically, all Bibles are amplifications and elaborations of the original volume of ideography first written on the open face of the sky, charted in the zodiac and heavenly maps, and later transferred to earth and written in scrolls and parchments. Man was instructed to fashion his new body of spiritual glory "after the pattern of things in the heavens," the heavenly or zodiacal man. And a graph of the structure and history of this celestial Personage was sketched by the enlightened sages in the configurated star clusters. Zodiac comes from the Greek word zodion,
a small living image, signifying that it is a graph of the microcosmic life of man, which is cast in the form of the macrocosmic life of the universe, or of God. Manís own small body is a replica of this body of God, made in its image and likeness. The vast frame of Cosmic Man
was outlined in th