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Plato’s “Myth of Er” and Ezekiel’s “Throne Vision”: A Common Paradigm?

In: Numen
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  • 1 University of Richmond, Department of Religious Studies, 28 Westhampton Way, Richmond, va 23173tbergren@richmond.edu
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In Republic 614B–621D, Plato describes the post-mortem experiences of Er, a Pamphylian warrior. Er sees an afterworld vision of the workings of the cosmos. Revolving around a pillar of light that extends through heaven and earth is a huge cosmic structure, resembling a spindle and whorl. The biblical book of Ezekiel also features visions of cosmic proportions (chapters 1 and 10). Ezekiel sees four “living creatures.” These were of human form, but each had four faces and four wings. The creatures were arranged with their outstretched wings touching each other. Ezekiel saw four wheels beside the creatures and, over their heads, a throne with a numinous occupant. Although these visions appear distinct, on deeper examination they reveal close structural similarities. This article aims to compare and contrast the visions and to evaluate their relationship. The conclusion presents several modern scholarly constructs by which the similarities could be explained.

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