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The Ancient of Days (1794)
Watercolor etching by William Blake
Entrance to the GE Building in New York, adapted from Blake

Ancient of Days is a name for God in Aramaic: Atik Yomin; in the Greek Septuagint: Palaios Hemeron; and in the Vulgate: Antiquus Dierum.

The title "Ancient of Days" has been used as a source of inspiration in art and music, denoting the Creator's aspects of eternity combined with perfection. William Blake's watercolour and relief etching entitled "The Ancient of Days" is one such example.

Contents

In Religion

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Judaism

See also The names of God in Judaism

There are many sources for this term, including:

I beheld till the thrones were cast down, and the Ancient of Days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool: his throne was like the fiery flame, and his wheels as burning fire.

Daniel 7:9

Whenever Judgment looms and the forehead of the Impatient One is revealed, the Forehead of the Ancient of Ancients is revealed; Judgment subsides and is not executed.

Idra Rabba, Zohar 3:136b

This term appears three times in the book of Daniel (7:9, 13, 22),[1] and is used in the sense of God being eternal.[2]

The most powerful effect of this particular Name of God stems from the Jewish mystical book the Zohar, the seminal document of Kaballah that stems from 13th century Spain. In the Kaballah there is mention of the Ancient of Ancients, also interpreted as En Sof or the unmanifested God. The Ancient of Days is the maifestation of the Ancient of Ancients in space and time. The Kaballah goes into great detail describing the White Head of God and ultimately the emanation of its personality or attributes.[3]

Christianity

"The Ancient of Days", a 14th-century fresco from Ubisi, Georgia

In Eastern Orthodox Christian hymns and icons, the Ancient of Days is sometimes identified with God the Father, and sometimes with God the Son, or Jesus Christ. As such, Christian art will sometimes portray Jesus Christ as an old man, the Ancient of Days, to show symbolically that he existed from all eternity, and sometimes as a young man to portray him as he was incarnate. This iconography emerged in the 6th century, mostly in the Eastern Empire.[4] It was declared by the Russian Orthodox Church at the Great Synod of Moscow in 1667 that the Ancient of Days was the Son and not the Father.[5] In the Western Church similar figures usually represent God the Father.

In the hymn "Immortal, Invisible, God only Wise", the last two lines of the first verse read:

Most blessed, most glorious, the Ancient of Days,
Almighty, victorious, Thy great Name we praise.

Daniel 7:13-14 says, “I kept on beholding in the visions of the night, and, see there! with the clouds of the heavens someone like a son of man happened to be coming; and to the Ancient of Days he gained access, and they brought him up close even before that One. And to him there were given rulership and dignity and kingdom, that the peoples, national groups and languages should all serve even him. His rulership is an indefinitely lasting rulership that will not pass away, and his kingdom one that will not be brought to ruin."

Mormon tradition

In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the title Ancient of Days belongs to Adam, the oldest man, who is also identified with the archangel Michael.[6]

Hinduism

The Sanskrit name, Karttikeya or Skanda, means "always a youth" and is revered as one of the four (or seven) sons of Brahma.[7]

Buddhism

In Buddhism, in the Kevattha Sutta (Digha Nikaya 11), the term "ancient of days" is referred to the creator God Brahma,

"“I am the Great Brahma, the Supreme, the Mighty, the All-seeing, the Ruler, the Lord of all, the Controller, the Creator, the Chief of all, appointing to each his place, the Ancient of days, the Father of all that are and are to be.” ."

In Buddhism, although Brahma or God is respected, he is not regarded as omnipotent or all knowing, but someone in samsara who is subject to ignorance, birth and death (over billions of years) and a disciple of the Buddha.

Bahá’í

In the Bahá’í Faith, 'the Ancient of Days' is one of the titles with which Bahá’u’lláh refers to Himself.[8]

Esotericism

In Esoteric tradition, the Ancient of Days is also known as Sanat Kumara.

Modern references

Ancient of Days is a well-known Anglican hymn, also known by its tune, Albany, by William Doane, the first Episcopal bishop of Albany, New York.[9]

"The Ancient of Days", is a 1992 song composed by Gary Sadler and Jamie Harvill. Also the cover of a 1978 album by the band "Slave"

The 'Ancient of Days' is a term for God in Phillip Pullman's 'His Dark Materials' trilogy.

'Ancient of Days' is the name of a metal band from Leeds, UK.

Notes

  1. ^ "Daniel 7". BibleGateway.com (KJV). http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Daniel%207;&version=9. Retrieved 21 January 2008.  
  2. ^ Easton, M. G. (1897). Easton's Bible Dictionary, "Ancient of Days". http://www.ccel.org/ccel/easton/ebd2.html?term=Ancient%20of%20Days.   "In contrast with all earthly kings, his days are past reckoning."
  3. ^ Glossary entry for Ancient of Days at the Internet Archive; Van Morrison. Retrieved 21 January 2007
  4. ^ Cartlidge and Elliott, 69-72
  5. ^ The Tome of the Great Council of Moscow (1666-1667 A.D.), Ch. 2, 43-45; tr. Hierodeacon Lev Puhalo, Canadian Orthodox Missionary Journal
  6. ^ "Doctrine & Covenants 27:11". Lds.org. http://scriptures.lds.org/en/dc/27/11. Retrieved 19 May 2008.  
  7. ^ Dowson, John (1820-1881) (1879). A classical dictionary of Hindu mythology and religion, geography, history, and literature. London: Trübner. http://www.mythfolklore.net/india/courseinfo/books.htm#dowson.   [Reprint, London: Routledge, 1979]. ISBN 0-415-24521-4
  8. ^ The World Order of Bahá’u’lláh, Shoghi Effendi, US Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1991 first pocket-size edition, pg. 206
  9. ^ W.C. Doane, Ancient of Days, or Albany, Song # 363, The Hymnal 1982 (Church Publishing 1982), ISBN 0-89869-120-6.

References

  • Cartlidge, David R., and Elliott, J.K.; Art and the Christian Apocrypha, Routledge, 2001, ISBN 0415233925, 9780415233927, Google books

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Bible wiki

Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From BibleWiki

an expression applied to Jehovah three times in the vision of Daniel (7:9, 13, 22) in the sense of eternal. In contrast with all earthly kings, his days are past reckoning.

This entry includes text from Easton's Bible Dictionary, 1897.

what mentions this? (please help by turning references to this page into wiki links)


A name given to God by the Prophet Daniel (7:9, 7:13, 7:22), in which he contrasts His eternal powers with the frail existence of the empires of the world. It is from these descriptions of the Almighty that Christian art derived its general manner of representing the first person of the Holy Trinity. Ancient of Days is expressed in Aramaic by Atiq yomin; in the Greek Septuagint by palaios hemeron; and in the Vulgate by Antiquus dierum.

Portions of this entry are taken from The Catholic Encyclopedia, 1907.
This article needs to be merged with ANCIENT OF DAYS (Jewish Encyclopedia).

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