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Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature

Emanation

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(Latin emanatio, a flowing forth), a religious theory concerning the relation of the universe to the Deity, which lies at the basis of some of the Oriental religions, and from them found its way into several philosophical systems. Emanation denotes a development, descending by degrees, of all things from the Supreme Being, the universe constituting in general, as well as in particular, a chain of revelations, the individual rings of which lose the divine character the more the farther they are remote from the primary source, the Deity. A system of emanation is different from a system of evolution, because in the latter the revelation of the Deity in the universe has for the Deity itself the signification of a process of self-cognition which grows in a progressive ratio. Emanation was the basis of the religions of India, in the northern provinces of which country it developed from the original religion of nature even before the compilation of the Vedas. The cause of all things was found in a universal world-soul. (See ANIMA MUNDI).

The world-soul was identified with Brahma, and, viewed as the eternal spiritual unit, the mysterious source of all life. The ancient gods were explained as the first rays of Brahma, whom he had constituted the guardians of the world. The creation was an emanation from Brahma, which became the more gross, dense, materialized, the farther it removed from the primitive source. Those who give themselves up to the corporeal world sink deeper and deeper, and only rise again upward when purified by the fire of hell; but those who renounce all sensuality, and direct all their thoughts to the one divine substance, are gradually absorbed by it. The religion of the Parsees is also based upon emanation. From the Zeruane akherene (the uncreated one), Ormuzd and Ahriman proceed as the highest revelation. From Ormuzd and Ahriman all other substances emanate, from the ministering angels down to the beings of the material world. But the Persians did not teach, like the Indians, a self-destruction of personality for the purpose of obtaining a reunion with the original unit; in the Parsee system the good is perfected and completed by overcoming the bad, and the series of the imperfect emanations is closed by a reunion of Ahriman with Ormuzd. In the Western countries, Plato is the first in whose writings we find, though not yet distinctly, traces of the doctrine of emanation. More developed, it appears in the writings of Philo. It is a prominent feature of the Neoplatonic school, and through Valentinus (q.v.) it was introduced into the Gnostic schools. Finally, it is to be found in the philosophy of the Arabs, which was more or less an Aristotelism mixed with Neoplatonic views.-Wetzer u. Welte, Kirchen-Lex. 3:548; Muller, Gesch. der Kosmologie in der griech. Kirche bis auf Origenes (Halle, 1860); Neander, Ch. Hist. volume 1. (A.J.S.)


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McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Emanation'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/tce/e/emanation.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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