I haven't been following this thred too much, but something just struck me
in this message. In Mesopotamia there are guilds and they take loyalty
oaths. David Weisberg studied this genre in his PhD dissertation,
published on the YNER series.
the Mesopotamian craftsmen who produced cult statues in the bit mummi
(workroom) actually depicted themselves as gods! For this see the recent
publication by M. Dick and C.B.F Walker of the Mis Pi ritual. For secret
lore in Mesopotamia and craftguilds see as well the article on
Geheimnissweisheit in the Reallexikon des Assryiologie. You may come
across some interesting analogies.


On Sun, 2 Jun 2002, Rochelle I. Altman wrote:

> George,
>    >...and no doubt "quasi-religious" is probably a more useful term.
> Quasi-religious is not merely "a more useful term," it is, for a change,
> an extremely accurate term.
> All, repeat *all*, craft and/or skill clans/guilds/corporations/etc. are
> "quasi-religious." An ancient clan craftmaster or a Medieval guild master
> (or Modern CIO for that matter), *is* a "priest" -- of sorts. Ancient
> or modern, all "crafts" quite understandably go to a great deal of
> effort to guard their "industrial" secrets. Among the most common
> techniques used to guard their secrets from being copied are to require
> incantations and rituals to perform a procedure. Who performs the
> incantations and oversees the rituals? Why the craftmaster/guildmaster of
> course. He or she is the teacher and guardian of the clan/craft/guild
> rituals and secrets. While definitely not what we mean by religious, there
> is a superficial similarity between the role of a clan craftmaster and a
> "priest."
>    >But in the meantime, I caution us against getting too fixated on
>    >the "smith" nature of the Rechabites.... I do not think Eusebius
>    >would have been too confused between "quasi-religious" and
>    >"priestly".
> It is not a fixation; it is a reality. An ancient clan craftmaster/Medieval
> guild master/etc., is essentially the "priest" of his/her craft/guild/etc.
> Remember, if something can be misunderstood, it will be. As superficially
> there are similarities, it is extremely easy to see why an outsider observing
> a craftmaster in action could confuse the teacher-guardian functions of a
> craftmaster with those of a "priest" -- IF that really is what Eusebius wrote.
> Then, smiths, in particular, cultivated a "magical" aura -- again quite
> easy to understand. As makers of weapons and tools, they wanted to maintain
> their economic edge. Further, smiths not only were essential workers, but
> because of their cultivated link with "magic" held a unique position --
> they were protected. (And the protection of smiths as essential workers is
> registered in the MT; one does not kill descendants of Cain without fear
> of reprisal.)
>    >... "spiritual fusion" going on with these guild-like clans.
> Guilds were, and are, groups bound together by economics and a specialty.
> These clans were not guild-like; they were guilds with whatever specialty
> upon which they were economically dependent passed down within the clan/guild
> and whose secrets were guarded by the clan craftmaster. The role of clan
> craftmaster has nothing to do with what we normally think of as "spiritual."
> The superficial resemblances between the functions of a "priest" and that of
> a clan craftmaster can be misunderstood as being "priestly," hence "spritual";
> however, the concept of a "spritual fusion" is simply wrong.
> There seems to be quite a bit of re-thinking to do.
> Regards,
> Rochelle
> --

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