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flowperson

Gate Imagery

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The Gate and Gateway metaphor are suitable images to render when examining the meaning of the gospel passages that put usage of these symbols into the words of Jesus. However, I believe that we are looking at a much broader range of understandings in the usage of these symbols.

 

It should be remembered that the very first people of G-d, specifically chosen by Him/Her to live G-d's purpose in the world were the Hebrews, which comes from the Chaldean root "hibaru". The original interpretation of the root means roughly "those who cross over". Now again we are bumping up against words and meanings that imply transition from one reality to another. But we should never either forget that the first Hebrews were nomads and that the first tabernacle in which G-d communicated His/Her wishes to them was essentially a large compartmentalized tent. They were not city or village people, and only later did they establish towns and villages presumably with walls and gates.

 

The earliest sacred meanings attached to gates and walls were in the land of Shinar (biblical), Sumer (archaeological), Iraq (contemporary). The gate posts were especially important and almost always had votive images of the G-ds buried under them as did the walls, both structural and surrounding. The significance of this sacredness points to the delineation noted above in a recognition of the inside from the outside. Moreover, walls and gates imposed human-made order upon the natural world. By building boundaries and openings in them for passage they were emulating activities carried out by the G-ds at the very beginnings, since most creation myths always involved stories that emphasized the culture's original creation of order out of disorder, and the establishment of timelines that enabled continuance of the people out of the primordial chaos.

 

Ciphering and counting was invented at gateways and trade practices were carried out there with strangers from the outside world. Writing evolved from these activities so that the governing establishment in city states could record activities at the gates and regulate them to their and the populace's general benefit. Many of the oldest cuneiform tablets discovered in excavations of gateway areas turn up troves of clay tablets recording official activities of some kind. It is interesting to speculate that perhaps the Hebrews adopted a portion of these customs and beliefs during their diaspora in Babylon around 600 bce and carried them back to Palestine where they subsequently built more of their own cities with walls and gates. But my recollection is that the Cannanites were using the same construction format in the land prior to the Hebrews.

 

Prior to the Sumerians and their city states there were people in the same land known as the Ubaidians. Their lifestyle was not as highly organized as the Sumerians and not much appears about their works in the archaeological record, although votive figures attributed to their civilization have been found and usually depict serpent-appearing humanoid figures with conical hats and posed with their arms folded across their chests.

 

This takes the record in the region back to about 6,000 bce. There are others who see gateway significance in the dolmen structures of the neolithic period in central and northern Europe. It appears that they were a general feature of the sacred sites of the Celts and that ceremonies that required the people to pass through or under them were part of their sacred rites. Stonehenge is the most prominent of extant sites with preserved dolmens. It is also interesting

to note that such standing stone arrangement also define specific boundaries separating the inside from the outside of sacred areas, and that also provide gateway areas for passing through the sites.

 

Now it is interesting that Jesus denigrated those who used gateways before Him as "theives and bandits". It seems an uncharacteristically judgemental saying for him to have uttered. It would be interesting to know if the Jesus Seminar judged it to be authentic or not.

 

One should also rent a copy of the film Stargate and familiarize themselves with some contemporary interpretations for the usage of these most ancient structurial symbols.

 

flow.... :)

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Several people have commented on the use of the "gateway" imagery in the first version of the 8 points. Some feel it is an apt metaphor, others feel that it is either exclusive or sounds too "religious." What do you think? Did we lose something by taking it out of version two?

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