May 4, 2016
During our Wednesday services, we have been studying the sons of Jacob using the Glossary terms in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. Last spring we read about Reuben, Levi, Judah, and Benjamin, and we recently studied Gad and Asher. This Wednesday, we are taking up this study again by learning about Jacob’s son Dan, which Mrs. Eddy defines as “animal magnetism; so-called mortal mind controlling mortal mind; error, working out the designs of error; one belief preying upon another” (Science and Health, p. 583). Why did this son of Jacob receive such a harsh definition? In our readings this Wednesday, we will learn once again that error “… is neither a person, place, nor thing, but is simply a belief, an illusion of material sense” (SH 71).
One famous Danite (member of the tribe of Dan) was Samson who was notoriously distracted by the hair-cutting Delilah, and whose story was the subject of earlier readings on purity. (These readings can be located by typing in “Samson” on the search bar on the left.)
Today’s readings include a Danite who blasphemed God and was stoned. There is also a story of a weak Hebrew priest who allowed idol worship among the Danites and which provides an interesting connection with the list of impurities in I Corinthians 6. Or as Eugene Peterson sums it up in The Message: “Just because something is technically legal doesn’t mean that it’s spiritually appropriate” (I Cor. 6:12).
In the listing of the tribes in Revelation, the names of Ephraim and Dan are missing. Jacob’s favorite son, Joseph, was promised a double inheritance, so if we assume that Joseph represents Ephraim (his younger son), then does Manasseh (his older son) replace Dan? There is an excellent classic article on this subject from a 1919 Christian Science Journal, and that link is on the website.
There is also another excellent classic article entitled “Wiser than Serpents,” by John Tutt, which is the lead article in a pamphlet by the same name and also appears in a 2007 Anthology of Classic Articles by the Christian Science Publishing Society. I am quoting part of it below, but I also have the link to the full article on the website.
In the allegory of the garden of Eden, the serpent is represented as talking to Eve. Mrs. Eddy reminds us that there is no such thing in animal life as a talking snake. The talking serpent used Eve’s tongue, for it had no ability to talk itself. Evil may even, fraudulently, take the livery of heaven. The serpent talked to Eve in terms of her own thinking and speech. Indeed, any evil belief comes to us in the guise of our own thought. It can come in no other way, since we see, feel, hear, touch, and taste only what we believe. Thus all these evil things depend for their seeming reality upon our acceptance of them at the behest of mortal mind….
“The wisdom of a serpent is to hide itself;” and because the serpents of error come to us in the guise of thought, and can come in no other way, therefore the serpent hides itself in our own thinking. We must seek for it there. The animal magnetism outside our own consciousness can never harm us….
These serpents, or animal magnetism, are not people or things, even though mortal mind does claim to operate as mortal men and things. These serpents are, one and all, just false concepts,—material beliefs. The serpent we handle for ourselves we at the same time handle impersonally for others,—indeed for all mankind, — because Christ, Truth, which heals and saves anybody, truly heals and saves everybody… (March 1925 The Christian Science Journal).