A lot of my interest over the past year has been on the evolution from the deposed Jewish Queen of Heaven, and her transformation into the Gnostic Christian Sophia. This evolution, and the speculation of various groups who maintained concern for this female deity, including the Nasaraenes, Elchesites, and others, has remarkable explanatory power around various curiosities within Christianity, such as why so many women were revered in early Christian communities. This is particularly interesting in light of the notion of the transient Paraclete Spirit, which was encapsulated by the Christ of each generation; in my model, there were male and female Paracletes, and this notion was rooted in the Elchesite view that the angelic originators of those Spirits lived in the sky, and sent shadows of themselves onto the inferior material of the earthly realm, a clear invocation of Platonism.
According to tradition found throughout the Old Testament, including 2 Kings, 2 Chronicles, and Jeremiah, the Queen’s purge from Orthodox Judaism occurred a few decades before the Babylonian destruction of Solomon’s temple – in the 6th century BCE.
In my investigation, I have largely ignored the other victim of King Josiah’s purge during the Deuteronomic reform: Ba’al.
Ba’al functioned as a God across several religions and geographic locations, primarily in the Canaan religion, but clearly was a player in earlier versions of Judaism, sometimes synonymous with El Elyon (the most high) and Yahweh; at other points, Ba’al was the son of the most high, often the Storm God – He Who Rides on the Clouds. He was also the brother of Asherah, who can be identified with the Queen of Heaven.
In terms of his relationship with storms, Ba’al is similar to Zeus, but it also reframes the curious invocation of the sons of Zebedee, James and John, as the sons of thunder; if one is committed to the notion that the Gospel of Mark contains Gnostic sentiments (Part 1, Part 2), then this might actually be a slight against James and John, by purporting they are children of a God lower than the Most High.
In the mythology of Canaan, Baal was the god of life and fertility, and is perpetually locked in mortal combat with Mot, the god of death and sterility. This dualism of good versus evil was typical of religions of the day; this conflict between Ba’al and Mot, which signified the changing of seasons, was similar to other season myths, such as that of Persephone, whose annual sentence to the Underworld caused Demeter to neglect the vegetation, which brought on drought.
Consider an implication of Ba’al: his domain, primarily in his role as vegetation God, was on the Earth. This is in contrast to Gods who exclusively reigned in Heaven.
As I traverse the attributes of Ba’al, I wonder if, aside from influencing the Judeo-Christian notion of the Earth’s ruler as a friendly, loving God, also contributed to a more hostile Demiurge who was present in various Gnostic iterations. Contributing to my suspicion is that Ba’al is sometimes the equivalent of Satan in various Christian stories.
In order for this presumption to hold any water, there must have been some notion where Ba’al was simultaneously the craftsman of the material realm AND lower than the most high. This notion of Ba’al as the Demiurge appears well-developed among authors who have written about this topic, but as of this moment (10/23/2017 at 7:10pm CST), I have struggled to find a primary source which explicitly posits this.
I’ve really only scratched the surface on this topic, but as of now, Ba’al provides remarkable explanatory power about the curious notion that the Demiurge was a malevolent Spirit committed to the entrapment of humans within the material realm.