This Dark Age

A manual for life in the modern world.

By Daniel Schwindt

NOTICE:
This Dark Age is now available in paperback on Amazon. The print version is MUCH cleaner than this online version, which is largely unedited and has fallen by the wayside as the project has grown. If you’ve appreciated my writing, please consider leaving a review on the relevant paperback volumes. The print edition also includes new sections (Military History, War Psychology, Dogmatic Theology).

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The term mysterion

Having claimed for Christianity a status as mystery religion, and having proceeded further to claim that it is in possession of the archetypal Mystery in the Passion of Christ, through which the anointed participate (sacramentally) and which is itself ritually perpetuated via the Eucharist, we must now justify these claims further by elaborating on the nature of the Mystery in question, beginning with the term itself.

The word we are dealing with historically is mysterion. Its etymology is somewhat obscure but it is enough for us here to discern what meaning it would have had for a listener in the apostolic period. The first thing to be said is that we need to set aside the modern meaning of the term, at least as we use it in common speech, where to call something a mystery is to admit that it is something about which we have no knowledge and can only guess at. For a Hellenized Jew the term would have had connotations more along the lines of what we have called esoteric doctrine, usually of a cosmological nature, and it was out of this material that the Christian meaning was wrought, by which a new aspect was added that would signify its essence: mysterion in the Christian context refers not to esoterism generally speaking but to a ‘sacred reality’.

Moreover, we can say that those who possess the doctrine of the mysteries possess the means to communicate them and, even if they are ultimately ineffable, they can nonetheless be ‘received’ in some sense via special initiation.

Thus, we read in the Gospel of Mark: “he said to them: to you it is given to know the mysterion of the kingdom of God: but to them that are without, all things are done in parables.”[1]

Mystery pertains to the Christ as Way, Truth, and Life. As used in the Christian context, the concept goes through several phases of development: first referring to doctrinal knowledge, which is the sense we find in Scripture (mystery-truth), then as a designation for the sacraments and the liturgy (mystery-life), and finally as an adjective mystiko or ‘mystical’, used to refer to supernatural knowledge sought through the life of prayer.

[1] Mark 4:11.

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