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Order and History (Volume 1): Israel and Revelation (Collected Works of Eric Voegelin, Volume 14) Hardcover – December 13, 2001
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About the Author
Eric Voegelin (1901-1985) was one of the most original and influential philosophers of our time. Born in Cologne, Germany, he studied at the University of Vienna, where he became a professor of political science in the Faculty of Law. In 1938, he and his wife, fleeing Hitler, immigrated to the United States. They became American citizens in 1944. Voegelin spent much of his career at Louisiana State University, the University of Munich, and the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. During his lifetime he published many books and more than one hundred articles. The Collected Works of Eric Voegelin will make available in a uniform edition all of Voegelin's major writings.About the Editor
Maurice P. Hogan is Professor of Sacred Scripture (Old Testament) at St. Patrick's College in Maynooth, Ireland. He is the author of The Biblical Vision of the Human Person: Implications for a Philosophical Anthropology.
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The Chapter Headings are as follows:
1. The Cosmological Order of the Ancient Near East
2. The Historical Order of Israel
3. History & the Trail of Symbols
4. Moses & the Prophets
The book also comes with a Biblical Reference, Modern Author, & Subject & Names Indexes.
The book starts out great with the order & meaning of the Ancient Near East civilizations of Mesopotamia, Achaemenian Empire, & Egypt. How religious myth & political power were interwoven to create a social order from chaos. After this most of the book flows from one topic to another but at times certain paragraphs seem to repeat themselves specially in the sections of Old Testament Science. Here a normal history lover may get bogged down with different schools of thought on how to interpret history from the Old Testament. Yes, I read books on the Philosophy of History & Higher Criticism, but somehow I found certain sections of this chapter too tedious. Eric Voegelin tries to join 3 schools of historical scripture interpretation which read like tearing the scriptures apart & then putting them back together again. How do we know that the scriptures can be torn & paste in this matter? We were not alive when supposedly Moses or whoever wrote the Pentateuch. In other words, how do we know when a methodology is correct & can reveal more meaning? As that chapter ends, Eric Voegelin finally admits that 19th century textural criticisms did a lot of damage to the understanding of the Old Testament.
I bought an used hard back book for a great price which came from a High School Library. The book was checked out 5 times & is still in great shape. I find it rather puzzling because this book was written at an University level.
A rating of "5" for price & delivery of an ex library book in good shape but a rating of "4" is given for some tough reading that leads nowhere in certain sections.
In the Preface to Volume II, Voegelin says, "Order and History is a philosophical inquiry concerning the principal types of order of human existence in society and history as well as the corresponding symbolic forms." Volume I (1956) begins with a Preface which states, "The order of history emerges from the history of order." Voegelin proposes to conduct a historical review to attempt to discern this order. The volume is in four parts: "The Cosmological Order of the Ancient Near East"; "The Historical Order of Israel"; "History and the Trail of Symbols"; and "Moses and the Prophets."
In the Preface to Volume III, Voegelin summarized the first volume thusly: "The oldest civilizational societies were the empires of the ancient Near East in the form of the cosmological myth. And from this oldest stratum of order emerged, through the Mosaic and Sinaitic revelations, the Chosen People with its historical form in the present under God. The two types of order, together with their symbolic forms, were the subject matter of Volume 1."
One of the aspects of the book which many readers find congenial is its respectful treatment of the concept of divine revelation in human history. (Volume I even contains at the back an extensive list of the "Biblical references" used in the book.)
Here are some representative quotations from the first volume:
"Ideology is existence in rebellion against God and man."
"God and man, world and society form a primordial community of being."
"Hence, the emphatic partnership with God removes a society from the rank of profane existence and constitutes it as the representative of the civitas Dei in historical existence."
"In the Desert God spoke to the leader and the tribes; by listening to the voice, by accepting its offer, and by submitting to its command, they at last reached life and became the people chosen by God."
"The historian's work subtly transfers the authority of Israel's order from the Kingdom to the new carriers of the spirit."
"There are times, when the divinely willed order is humanly realized nowhere but in the faith of solitary sufferers."
(Read my reviews of the subsequent volumes to see how Voegelin's project changed over the successive volumes.)