View Full Version : Godless, the concept of das Gott [Prof. GŁnther, in 'Religious Attitudes of the Indo-Europeans']

Friday, December 9th, 2005, 09:22 PM
The following is an excerpt from professor GŁnthers, that demonstrates that our ancestors weren't naive "polytheists" in the primitive meaning of the word, and that they had a virile spirituality as well.

"The fearless thinkers among the Teutons, above all among the North Teutons, to whom the world of the Gods of the Asas and Vanir had become a childish idea, must have recognized long before the penetration of Christianity the existence of an inner-worldly and inner-spiritual deity, a brahman, or a theion, as the Hellenes called it, a daimonion, such as Socrates felt working within himself. It is a striking fact, to which too little attention has been paid hitherto, that the word "God" was neuter in gender in the Teutonic languages (Das Gott, or, in Old Nordic, gud) and that it was only after the false interpretation by Christian converters that the word acquired male gender. Thus thinking Indians no longer spoke of Gods even at an early period, but of a deity governing the world (dewata), which was also called the brahman. This is the deus in nobis of Hellenic and Roman poets and thinkers.

When Christian missionaries asked the north Teutons who or what they believed in, they received the reply which centuries previously the south Teutons (who had believed in das Gott (neuter) might also have given that they believed in their power (matt) or strength (magin), a power working within them, a deity filling the religious man, an inner-worldly and inner-spiritual deity. Such an answer must have seemed to the missionaries, as it would to many present-day commentators, a mere boast of power or an idolatrous presumption, while in fact it must be understood as a factual "The God" (Das Gott) corresponding to the dominans ille in nobis deus. But it is easy to understand that the missionaries, who in Christianity had accepted the extramundane, transcendent ideas of a "personal" God, from the Semitic peoples, were at a loss when confronted by faith in a destiny ruling within men.

The pagan north Germans, who still believed in that the divine was present in all "men of high mind", were called Godless (gudlauss or gudlausir menn) by their converted countrymen, who were spiritually more simple, and therefore could not understand inner spiritual power or strength.

The men with more insight among the Hellenes would have understood the neuter God - Das Gott - of the Teutons, for it corresponded to their own "to therion". Thinking Hellenes had already replaced the plurality of the Gods by the single deity and later by the single figure called The Mighty (to Kreitton). The orator Dion of Prusa, known as Chrysotom (40-120), and the philosopher Plotinus (approx. 204-270), would not have misunderstood the Icelanders: Might and Power as descriptions of the deity were familiar to them. Dion of Prusa (XXXI, 11) says of the deeply prudent men of his time: "They simply combine all Gods together in one might (ischys) and power (dynamis)", and Plotinus expresses thisin the Enneads....


The might or power of which the Indo-Europeans had a presentiment, this unity of the deity was split up by thinkers in the realm of human experience into the trinity of "The Good, the True and the Beautiful", but in such a way that these ideas or words remained close neighbours in Hellas. Here and there with the later Hellenic-Roman thinkers the true could easily be understood as the good and the beautiful, aletheia could signify both intellectual truth as well as moral truth, and in the kalok'agathia the ideal of sifting and selection, of eugenia or human disciplined choice, bodily beauty and moral fitness, and virtue (arete) became linked with one another. Since Plato's Banquet, Indo-European thinkers have recognised truth, beauty and virtue as life values which pointed beyond the realm of experience to the divine, to the brahman, or the concept of Das Gott (neuter) - to a deity which through truth rendered the thinking man capable of knowledge."

p. 73-74
Religious Attitudes of the Indo-Europeans, professor GŁnther