Oera Linda Book

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Page 48 of the Oera Linda manuscript

The Oera Linda Book is a 19th-century manuscript written in Old Frisian. It purports to cover historical, mythological, and religious themes of remote antiquity, compiled between 2194 BC and AD 803.

The manuscript's author is not known with certainty, and it is hence unknown whether the intention was to produce a hoax, a parody or simply an exercise in poetic fantasy.

The manuscript first came to public awareness in the 1860s. In 1872, Jan Gerhardus Ottema published a Dutch translation and defended it as "genuine". Over the next few years there was a heated public controversy, but by 1879 it was universally recognized that the text was a recent composition. Nevertheless, a public controversy was revived in the context of 1930s Nazi occultism, and the book is still occasionally brought up in esotericism and "Atlantis" literature.

Goffe Jensma published a monograph on the manuscript in 2004, De gemaskerde god ("the masked god"), including a new translation and a discussion of the history of its reception. Jensma concludes that it was likely intended as a "hoax to fool some nationalist Frisians and orthodox Christians", as well as an "experiential exemplary exercise" by Dutch theologian and poet François Haverschmidt.[1][2]

History of reception[edit]

19th century[edit]

The Oera Linda Book, known in Old Frisian as Thet Oera Linda Bok, came to light in 1867 when Cornelis Over de Linden (1811–1874) handed the manuscript, which he claimed to have inherited from his grandfather, via his aunt, over to Eelco Verwijs (1830–1880), the provincial librarian of Friesland, for translation and publication. Verwijs rejected the manuscript, but in 1872 Jan Gerhardus Ottema (1804–1879), a prominent member of the Frisian Society for History and Culture, published a Dutch translation. Ottema believed it to be written in authentic Old Frisian. The book was subsequently translated into English by William Sandbach in 1876, and published by Trübner & Co. of London.

There was some debate on the book's authenticity during the 1870s,[clarification needed] but by 1879 it was widely recognized as a forgery.

Nazi Germany[edit]

More than forty years later, beginning in 1922, Dutch völkisch philologist Herman Wirth revived the issue. Wirth published a German translation of what he dubbed the "Nordic Bible" in 1933, as Die Ura Linda Chronik.

A panel discussion on Wirth's book at the University of Berlin on 4 May 1934 was the immediate impulse for the foundation of the Ahnenerbe Nazi "think tank" by Himmler and Wirth, together with Richard Walther Darré. Because of the infatuation of Himmler's with the Oera Linda Book and its consequent association with Nazi occultism, it became known as "Himmler's Bible". Wirth's book was by no means universally acclaimed among the Nazi era Nordicist academics, and the 1934 panel discussion was steeped in heated controversy. Alfred Rosenberg and his circle rejected it. Gustav Neckel had praised Wirth's work before publication, but upon seeing its content published a dismayed recension.[3]

Speaking in defense of the book's authenticity were Walther Wüst and Otto Huth, besides Wirth himself. Speaking against its authenticity were Neckel, Karl Hermann Jacob Friesen (who identified it as a satirical hoax by Cornelius Over de Linden) and Arthur Hübner. Hübner was one of the most respected Germanists of his generation, and his verdict of the Oera Linda being a falsification settled the defeat of Wirth's party. The public defeat of Himmler's pseudo-scholarly brand of "esoteric Nordicism" resulted in the foundation of Ahnenerbe, which attracted occultists such as Karl Maria Wiligut and was viewed with suspicion by the mainstream Nazi ideologues of Amt Rosenberg.[4]

Modern esotericism[edit]

The book later experienced a revival of popularity in the English-speaking world with the publication of Robert Scrutton's The Other Atlantis (1977) and Secrets of Lost Atland (1979).

Within the first few years after the appearance of the Oera Linda Book, its recent origin was established not only based on the exceptional claims being made, but also because of a number of anachronisms it contained. Research was performed on the quality of the paper, and it was claimed to have come from a papermill in Maastricht circa 1850.[citation needed] The text was nevertheless a source of inspiration for a number of occultists and speculative historians. The authenticity of the book is supported by at least some Neo-Nazi groups, possibly because it indicates a Northern European origin for several Middle Eastern civilisations.[citation needed]

Another figure to formulate a contemporary Neopagan tradition influenced by the Oera Linda was Tony Steele, a self-professed English "Traditional Witch", who considered the book to reveal the genuine truth about the megalithic culture.[5]

Authorship[edit]

The most likely candidates for the author of the manuscript are Cornelis Over de Linden or Eelco Verwijs. A popular third choice is the Protestant preacher François Haverschmidt (1835–1894), well known for writing poetry under the pseudonym Piet Paaltjens. Haverschmidt lived in Friesland and was an acquaintance of Verwijs.

Goffe Jensma (2004) argued that Haverschmidt was the main writer of the book, with the help of Over de Linden and Verwijs. According to Jensma, Haverschmidt intended the Oera Linda Book as a parody of the Christian Bible. An article in late 2007 by Jensma [6] says that the three authors of the translation intended it "to be a temporary hoax to fool some nationalist Frisians and orthodox Christians and as an experiential exemplary exercise in reading the Holy Bible in a non-fundamentalist, symbolical way."

However, ignoring clues that it was a forgery, it was taken seriously by J.G. Ottema and achieved popularity for the reasons given above. Its creators felt unable to admit that they had written it, and it became the foundation for new occult beliefs. Jensma concludes his article by saying "It is a perfect irony that a book written to unmask the Holy Bible as a book of human making was to become a bible itself."[7]

Contents[edit]

Themes running through the Oera Linda Book include catastrophism, nationalism, matriarchy, and mythology. The text alleges that Europe and other lands were, for most of their history, ruled by a succession of folk-mothers presiding over a hierarchical order of celibate priestesses dedicated to the goddess Frya, daughter of the supreme god Wr-alda and Irtha, the earth mother. The claim is also made that this Frisian civilization possessed an alphabet which was the ancestor of the Greek and Phoenician alphabets. Modern historiography is essentially ignored, particularly in the area of basic chronology of known events in the recent and distant past of Europe. Geological as well as geographical evidence that was readily available even as far back as Over de Linden's time is also mostly absent from the manuscript.

The earliest portion of the Oera Linda Book, namely Frya’s Tex, was supposedly composed in 2194 BC, whereas the most recent part, the letter of Hidde Oera Linda, dates to AD 1256. Almost half of the entire book comprises The Book of Adela’s Followers, the original text around which the rest grew. It is purported to have been compiled in the 6th century BC from a mixture of contemporary writings and ancient inscriptions. The last two sections of the Oera Linda Book, the writings of Konered and Beden, contain a number of lacunae and the book itself breaks off in mid-sentence.

It also mentions Atland (the name given to Atlantis by the 17th century scholar Olof Rudbeck), which was supposedly submerged in 2193 BC, the same year as 19th century Dutch and Frisian almanacs, following traditional Biblical chronology given for Noah's flood.[7]

Chapter[edit]

  • THE LETTERS
  • THE BOOK OF ADELA'S FOLLOWERS
  • THE WRITINGS OF ADELBROST AND APOLLONIA
  • THE WRITINGS OF FRETHORIK AND WILIOW
  • THE WRITINGS OF KONERED
  • THE WRITINGS OF BEDEN

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ [1] ISBN / ISSN: 90-6550-841-4
  2. ^ Zeker ook nieuw aan mijn boek is wat ik op grond van het handschrift zelf kon concluderen over de tijd van ontstaan en over de wijze waarop het is gemaakt, namelijk in een aantal fases en niet door één auteur, maar zeker door twee en vermoedelijk door drie auteurs. [2]
  3. ^ Der Tag, Berlin, 31. December 1933.
  4. ^ Gerd Simon, Himmlers Bibel und die öffentlichkeitswirksamste Podiumsdiskussion in der Geschichte der Germanistik
  5. ^ Steele, Tony (2001). The Rites and Rituals of Traditional Witchcraft. Milverton, Somerset: Capall Bann.
  6. ^ Extraordinary professor of Frisian Language and Culture, in particular the literary-historical aspects of Frisian, at the Faculty of Humanities of the Universiteit van Amsterdam
  7. ^ a b Jensma, Goffe (November 2007), "How to Deal with Holy Books in an Age of Emerging Science. The Oera Linda Book as a New Age Bible", Fabula 48 (3–4): 229–249, doi:10.1515/FABL.2007.017. 

External links[edit]