Monday, February 10, 2014

Oneiromancy - Interpretation of Dreams

Here's a tidbit from The Bible Cyclopedia ©1841 on the Interpretation of Dreams.

DIVINATION, the art of foretelling future events by previously recognised signs. The word is derived from the Latin divinatio, and that again from divinus, forming an acknowledgment of the text—" Secret things belong unto God."
5. The fifth species of divination to which we shall advert, and in many respects the most important of all, is Oneiromancy, or as it has been sometimes called Oneirocriticism, the interpretation of dreams.
It will be quite unnecessary here to enter into the philosophy of sleep, because it will not be denied that in the periods previous to the Christian dispensation, God did speak to his people "by dreams and visions of the night;" and there are instances on record in the New Testament of similar interpositions. The truth, therefore, of the idea upon which oneiromancy is founded will account for its extensive prevalence. Oveipos, a dream, and fzavTeia, will give us the derivation of the word, and suggest to us also the remark of Homer, Kai ryap Tovap eic Aio<; eariv, "For dreams also come from Jove." Thus in the earliest records of profane antiquity, as well as in the Scriptures of truth, we find a recognition of the Divine will conveyed to man by means of dreams.
On reading the accounts preserved in the Sacred "Writings, we are struck with a circumstance which at once does away all suspicion of imposture on the part of the "interpreters of dreams." They were sent for on one occasion by Pharaoh, (Gen. 41. 8,) who related to them his dreams, and demanded an interpretation, "but there was none that could interpret them unto Pharaoh." A similar case is found in the dreams of Nebuchadnezzar. Once he required the dream as well as the interpretation to be given him, and the case is not, therefore, an exact instance in point, but afterwards (Dan. 4. 7) we find the king himself saying, "Then came in the magicians, the astrologers, the Chaldffians, and the soothsayers; and I told the dream before them; but they did not make known unto me the interpretation thereof."
From all this we gather that the interpreters of dreams were not (in the ordinary sense of the word) impostors, for had they been such, they would not so frankly have acknowledged their inability to expound the dreams of Pharaoh and Nebuchadnezzar. To an impostor one dream is as easy to interpret as another. The nature of this case is obvious: they interpreted dreams according to a system; whatever could be reduced within the rules of that system admitted of an exposition, but when dreams, sent by the Supreme Being, and probably for that very cause not reducible to any rules with which they were acquainted, were proposed for their consideration, they were too wise to attempt any imposition, but at once acknowledged that the boundaries of their art did not extend to these visions. Many works have come down to us from ancient times on the art of interpreting dreams; the most remarkable is the Oneirocritica of Artemidorus, who gives instructions for explaining four hundred and nine species of dreams, many of them such as could never occur to a Christian educated in our day, and which exhibit, perhaps, the darkest picture of fioman morals anywhere to be found.

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