As usual Ken, a very helpful and concise statement.
Having read all the comments so far, I thought it
might be useful to set the subject in Eliot's own context:
"But no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation,
With an alien people clutching their gods."
would be hard to translate as anything other than secular values.
----- Original Message ----- From: Ken Armstrong
To: [log in to unmask]
Sent: Thursday, January 12, 2012 4:02 AM
Subject: Re: Strange Gods?
In a 1998 post to this list, Guy Story Brown took up the question of the context of After Strange Gods including the origin of the phrase:
The phrase "strange [=alien, foreign] gods" that provides the title occurs
once in an unrelated context in the NT (Acts), but it occurs throughout the OT
(at least Gen; Deut; Joshua; Judges; I Sam; 2 Chron; Psalms; Isaiah; Jeremiah;
Daniel; Malachi), where it is thematic, and whence it gets its deep resonance
in whole the Puritan vision of the "City set on the Hill," the "New
Jerusalem," and so forth. Hence the Chosen People who,
analogy with the
children of Israel on certain occasions, or with certain ones of them always,
are implicitly now following or beginning to follow after strange gods are "us
Americans," once descended from the Pilgrim Fathers. We (the new Israel) are
become (or are in danger of becoming) like the Hebrews blasted by Jeremiah and
Amos. Anyone wishing to establish or maintain New Canaan successfully cannot
have a proliferation of free thinking Jews. The same theme is developed in
the OT under the rubric of adultery (which violates the peoples' marriage
covenant with Jehovah) and the offspring of such adultery (e.g., Hosea,
Hope that helps.
On 1/12/2012 5:52 AM, John Morgenstern wrote:
Does anyone know the origin of the term "Strange Gods"? The OED offers no insight (so far as I can see at a cursory glance). I assume that it's a biblical allusion, referring to the worship of
non-Christian gods. If so, is anyone familiar with the particular chapter and verse? Even more usefully, has anyone come across any explanation of Eliot's application of the term in scholarly discourse?