3
$\begingroup$

We have a religion and a church. Said religion is similar in background and style to Abrahamic religions, but originating from people who prioritise farming over breeding livestock. Hence, all of our metaphors are different now: the lord isn't your shepherd but a gardener and the believers aren't his (I'm assuming this religion to remain patriarchal unless there's reasons why this would change) flock but his seed. He tends to his garden with mercy and justice (I know you can't have both at once, but if real religions can contradict themselves, so can fictional ones) by weeding out the sinners and watering the pious, he is the sun, the soil and the seasons and we're all awaiting the final harvest (now the iconography suddenly lines up again).

As this religion is purposefully designed to be an analogue for Judaism/Christianity, only with a different metaphorical language, you can assume that where information is missing, the gaps can be filled with what that actual religion has to say on the subject. However, I assume that prophets from a crop farming background would develop slightly different traditions and cultures, value slightly different traits and abilities etc. than more nomadic shepherds would, thus changing the direction of the religion at its point of origin.

Now I'm aware that human culture is determined by myriad factors and cannot be accurately predicted, but I'd like to ask if there are any particularly obvious or significant changes besides metaphorical language that can be expected or would make sense to occur in the instance that an otherwise pseudochristian church centred its outlook on farming and plants from the beginning. I'm particularly interested in societal structure, mores, structure of the church as institution and the like.

Note: this doesn't have to go beyond the late medieval.

EDIT: As this seems to require clarification, I am asking about the perspective of the authors of scripture. Farming was known and practiced when Judaism developed, it just wasn't the lens through which the prophets viewed it.

$\endgroup$
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I can just imagine how the annual harvest would go down with the population $\endgroup$ – Separatrix Sep 12 '17 at 14:14
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ I would argue that by the late medieval period, Christianity had mixed with so many other religions and cultures that such things did not matter anymore in the slightest. The Egyptians had such a farmer's religion, didn't they? Well, Judaism is heavily influenced by them $\endgroup$ – Raditz_35 Sep 12 '17 at 14:15
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ You cannot have Abrahamic background without livestock. Abraham's cultur was that of a sheperd. It's like asking "can I have vegan people who still eat meat?" $\endgroup$ – L.Dutch Sep 12 '17 at 14:27
  • $\begingroup$ @L.Dutch No. The ancient Canaanites certainly had farmers, it's in scripture from Genesis onwards. Cain is a farmer and probably Adam too. Only the perspective of the scriptures is centred on shepherds and that is what my question is about. $\endgroup$ – Pahlavan Sep 12 '17 at 14:46
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Only if you accept vicarious redemption (also called scapegoating) as just, which is questionable. $\endgroup$ – Pahlavan Sep 12 '17 at 20:01
5
$\begingroup$

Judaism already has a significant focus on land. The whole point of the exodus from Egyptian slavery was to receive the torah (law) and then go to the promised land. God's promise to Avraham was progeny and land. The torah has commandments about tithing crops, leaving the corners of your field for the poor to glean, giving the land every seventh year off... and also commandments about how to conquer and occupy the land.

Land and agriculture are already pretty important, in other words.

So if you wanted an Abrahamic-style religion that's centered on farming, you could nudge this one in that direction. For example:

  • Avraham's story starts with "go forth from your father's house", and that actually still works. But you can de-emphasize the nomadic aspect and focus more on settling in the land of Canaan. Instead of shepherding disputes with his nephew Lot, the trouble could be about choicest farmland. Perhaps the complex process of acquiring a grave for Sarah transforms into a much-earlier acquisition of a whole farmstead to settle on.

  • Make Yitzchak and Yaakov less nomadic too, and build it up as superior so that when Yosef is saving Egypt from the famine, he does it through better farming techniques and not just through storing grain. There's a nice opportunity here to have careful cultivation of crops in the land defeat "foreign" reliance on flooding. (Yes, Egyptian agriculture was careful too, but you get to spin the story how you want.)

  • Focus the exodus from slavery on getting (back) to the promised land, where their forefathers had bountiful harvests etc. Add more agricultural laws -- laws about planting, plowing, crop rotation, irrigation, etc -- and make produce, not livestock, the focus of communal offerings.

  • Make a bigger deal out of Adam and Chava being given the garden to care for. Maybe they don't get expelled for disobedience but, rather, take what they learn in the garden and apply it to the larger world. In this version the garden is sort of their "starter farm".

I'm not saying you should do all those things; those are just suggestions. You could, of course, make up whole new stories that fit your theme.

Once you have the baseline narrative, you can then adjust prophetic messages, legends, and history to fit.


That's a lot about how to get there, but you asked about effects. A land-based religion will be more focused on place -- on ancestral holdings and the traditions that come with them. Extended families will stay closer together because they want to stay on their land. Kids leaving home for places far away will be less common -- they have land now, after all. There might be some pressure to not have huge families, so that more people can stay together.

Of course, as populations grow people will be forced to spread out. Middle-ages Europe was also pretty land-centered for a lot of people, and over time "extra" children had to find other ways to sustain themselves because you can't keep subdividing a family holding forever. In your farming-focused religion this would probably be very distressing, but there might be offsetting religious faith and fervor to guide those leaving the existing holding. In your society, settling on previously-uncultivated land and making it rich in crops would be a major accomplishment -- something they might see as divinely guided. Making the desert bloom would be a bigger deal than military conquest and the spoils of war.


A tangential note: Judaism and Christianity are quite different in focus and themes, despite the latter starting from a version of the former. You'll probably do better to stop thinking of "Judaism/Christianity" as a single thing. In particular, Christianity doesn't have as much focus on land even now as Judaism does, and that might be hindering your thinking. Also, there's a third Avrahamic religion, which I haven't touched on in this answer.

$\endgroup$
3
$\begingroup$

Some spotlights:

One major aspect is the circle of life similar to the circle of seasons. Everything dies in autumn, everything comes back in spring. Reincarnation is typical a farmer's religion aspect. (This in opposite to your intention of "the last harvest").

Farmers work hard, but have a peaceful mind. Shepherds protect and care for their animals until they take a knife and kill them. This is sin and guiltiness, forcing people to be hard. This brings up a need for forgiveness.

A core event in the origin of judaism was Abrahams's close-on sacrifice of his own son, slaughtering him like a sheep. Books are written about this one aspect. I postulate this event would not have taken place in a farmers society.

I am far from seeing all aspects of Abraham's sacrifice. One major point is submission to god. A farmer's god rather needs gratefulness.

$\endgroup$
2
$\begingroup$

None.

Abraham was a nomadic shepherd in approximately 2100 BC. The Israelites conquered the land of Canaan in 1400 BC. That’s only 700 years before they become largely settled farmers. Aside from your language I doubt there would be significant changes. 700 years is just too short of a time.

Biblical vs historical note: There is argument on whether the Israelite’s actually conquered Canaan as depicted in the bible. Regardless of whether they settled and intermarried, or actually conquered, it is widely accepted that they were a settled farming people by that time.

$\endgroup$
2
$\begingroup$

There are many references to agriculture in the Judeo-Christian scripture already. In your creation, I would suggest simply excluding references animals. Below are some examples for inspiration.

Isaiah 5:1-7 compares the nation of Judah to a vineyard

Luke 20:9-16 also compares Israel to a vineyard.

Matthew 13:3-8 and 18-23 refer to people's hearts as different types of ground in which the word of God is planted.

1 Corinthians 3:9 refers to believers as God's cultivation or husbandry. This is part of a lengthier discussion the actions of ministers by presenting a metaphor of farmer workers in that one planted, one watered, etc.

Romans 11 uses a metaphor of grafting a branch in a fig tree describe the inclusion of the Gentile (i.e. non-Jewish person) into the promises of God.

Revelation 14:15-19 describes the Apocolypse in terms of an angel harvesting a field with a sickle.

Additional references: Joel 3:13, Hosea 6:11, Jeremiah 51:33, Isaiah 17:4-6, Proverbs 22:8, James 3:18

$\endgroup$
0
$\begingroup$

The main reason for this is that people even back then were intelligent enough to know to distinguish Fauna and Flora. As human is a part of Fauna, their lord is shepherd. IF those people were part of Flora, they would be his seeds.

There is a race of Sylvari in PC game GUildWars2. Those are technically "botanical humanoids", they are not born, but sprouted from Pale Tree. Despite they don't have any gods themself, they have the spiritual connection with the Pale Tree they came from (that could be described as a same relationship as with a god, the only thing is that this one is real). However, they call Pale Tree a mother, rather than farmer or similar names. But they can be reffered as seeds, seedlings(which they technically are).

So I would really say that the reasons for the terminology used is the conclusion, that humans are part of Fauna and not part of Flora, we are not plants, that is why we do not use plant-oriented language.

After all, people do really behave as a herd of sheep.

$\endgroup$

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.