Awareness of History

The Greek devalued history because he devalued the concrete realm, seeing that it could not be reduced to some universal formula. The Hebrew restored value to history and, in fact, discovered history and its value. This is what Hegel suggests when he says that self-awareness begins in world history with Abraham. And this is what Mircea Eliade suggests near the end of his fme book, The Myth of theEternal Return6

The Semite, and the Hebrew in particular, made history the horizon of his existence. It is the concrete fact of Abraham's existence that enables his people to be saved. It is that historical promise which provides the context for Hebrew salvation. Abraham is not a myth or a god. He is not Hercules, Prometheus, or Ulysses. Abraham is a historical figure who lived in Ur at one point and then journeyed through the real world.

Concrete realities are suddenly "discovered." For now the corporeal realm of the individual and the unforeseen-basar-can be the starting point for salvation. History is now the starting point for salvation. The prophet is the perfect human being because he discovers the import of history, ponders it, and then proclaims it to his people. He tells people how God sees history and mankind's place in it.

This worldview carne about because the Semites saw the world as something radically separated from the Creator , the Other. U sing the term barah, the first verse of Genesis tells us that the creator God fashioned a world that was radically qistinct from himself. In other words, the Transcendent de-mythified this world and turned it into man's instrument. So long as the world was divine, so long as it was "full of gods," man could not possibly dominate nature. Thanks to the Hebrew view, he can.

The first important step in man's attempt to dominate nature was the de-mythification of the universe. Modern science, as Pierre Duhen observes, is based on the simple principIe of a creator God. It is this principle that allowed man to de.mythify the universe and take scientific control over the world. If the moon is something created, then I can go about the task of studying it. But if the moon is a god or goddess, then astronomy becomes mixed up with theology . and science becomes impossible. As you can see, the topic is an interesting one which deserves further study.

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