Democracy & Ancient Dynastic Political Economies

I’ve read enough of ancient history to be able to tell good accurate research from phony populism.  Recently, upon going to my local bookstore, I came upon a interesting concoction, namely the relation between ancient Israel and the rise of Democracy.

I thought the author would mark out the exegetical commentary on Genesis, namely the equality between genders as detailed in Genesis.  Instead what I got was very sloppy history, something that cannot go uncorrected.

Throughout this reading, the author failed to account for how modernity, which is really a perversion of Christianity, especially its understanding of autonomy, freedom, nature, grace, transcendence, humanness and identity, just to name a few.  Nevertheless, contemporary concepts like human individual and conscience are not found in the Hebrew Bible. Let’s explain.

The concept of the individual possessing certain rights with the power to effect political change simply did not exist for anyone in ancient times nor antiquity.  Although the idea of political equality did exist for ancient Romans and Greeks, this social identity was an extrinsic juridical concept bestowed upon a person (sorry, the word person did not exit in ancient antiquity either) after payment of a large tithe.  You simply purchased your citizenship.

Yes, the seeds for individual self government were sown by Solon and Pericles, they do have their place in this historical hierarchy, but they don’t even come close to the weight of accounting how modernity rose from antiquity.

Eastern culture, steeped in despotism and mysticism for a millennium was only overcome very, very recently.  Until the rise of an ascendant West, the East represented nothing more than superstition and temple priests masking as bureaucrats.

Political correctness forbids me from saying it, but the idea of ‘politics’ or common citizenship attending to the public business was completely unheard of prior to Greek City States.  Any quick study of the ancient cultures of the Nile or those throughout Mesopotamia will articulate a known implicit understanding that Israel, Egypt, Assyria, Babylon was a theological political power held by nobles, temple priests and kings who controlled the military.  The general masses don’t matter.  There was no personal choice to be made by the Israelites nor any other ancient dynastic culture in the east, for their understanding of time was cyclical not linear and unrepeatable.

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About William Holland

Systematic Theologian/International Relations
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