Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Sacred Center in Biblical Theology

Alice C. Linsley

The temporal sacred center is when the Sun reaches at the peak of the day and is directly overhead so that there are no shadows. This is represented on many cross-like artifacts that have a solar image at the top center, such as the  ancient Egyptian Ankh or the Agadez Cross (shown below).

Agadez Cross
The sacred center is temporal, that is, halfway between east and west as measured by the Sun’s movement to high noon, and it is spatial, that is, halfway between Heaven and Earth, as on the top of a mountain. The mountain top or high place is where man hopes to see God, and where sacrifice is offered.

Votive offerings at the high places were called tama or tamata. This is related to an ancient word for fortified mounds: tamana. This toponym has been found in 188 countries and five continents. Many tamana predate the high places of Susa, Körös-Tisza, the Indus Valley, Mesopotamia, Egypt, and China. The term tamana means "stronghold" in the Manding language of Africa, the Magyar language of Hungary, and the Dravidian languages spoken in India.

Both cool and hot encounters with God are found in the book of Genesis. In the garden, God came to commune “in the cool of the day” (Gen. 3:8), but in the destruction of Sodom, He came “in the heat of the day” (Gen. 18:1). In the cool encounter, God comes to the tree at the center, as the Sun rises over the land from east to west. In the story of the destruction of Sodom, God moves in an eastward direction from the hill country above Sodom.

Confirmation of this cosmological view of the sacred center marked by the Sun comes from study of the Inadan metalworkers. They craft the Agadez cross and speak a secret language called tnt, which is symbolized by the "sign of TNT" which looks like this:

Askelon tanit shows Hathor between the horizons.
Above her is the mountain, a place of meeting God. 
The mountain is crowned with cow horns in which the Sun rests at the sacred center.

A similar image is the simple Tanit of Carthage. This is not an image of a goddess, as some suppose.  It is a symbol of the cosmology of Abraham's people. It designates the temporal center with the sun resting at noon (midway between east and west) and the spatial center with the sun resting on top of a mountain.

Related reading:  Gender Reversal and Sacred Mystery; Peaks and Valleys; The Urheimat of the Canaanite Y


  1. Where do you find this stuff? I have never seen such fabulous metalwork anywhere. The relationship to Tanit is very evident.

  2. My niece lived in Niger and purchased an Agadez cross for me from an Inadan chief. He had two wives, BTW, maintained in separate households on a north-south axis... just like the metalworking chiefs among Abraham's people!


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