Sunday, April 11, 2021

Where Judaism and Christianity Part Ways


Is Christianity an extension of Judaism? Historically, Christians and Jews share many values, read the Old Testament texts, and have similar liturgical practices such as Scripture readings, recitation of the Psalms, creeds, sermons, feasts and fasts, etc. However, Christians and Jews do not agree on the substance of Abraham's faith whereby he was justified (Genesis 15:6; Romans 4:3; Galatians 3:6, and James 2:23).

Judaism emerged long after the time of Abraham. We trace its development through post-exilic texts and through history, especially the Persian Period. The biblical narrative begins with Cyrus II of Persia who reigned from 559-530 BC.

The Book of Ezra continues where 2 Chronicles ends with Cyrus's proclamation permitting residents of his empire who were deported from Judah to return their ancestral home. The proclamation was not limited to people of Judah. Cyrus encouraged many peoples to establish their own temples in their indigenous lands. Ezra arrived in Jerusalem in 458 BC, so he was among the earlier immigrants. At that time Judah (Yehud) was a province of the Persian Empire and the appointed governor was Sheshbazzar.

Cyrus assumed control of Syria-Palestine when Babylon fell. He replaced some key officials with his own men, and Sheshbazzar was one of his appointees who enforced the policies of Cyrus. That meant aiding in the rebuilding of the Temple. During the reign of Cambyses (530-522 BC) Zerubbabel was appointed governor of Judah and the rebuilding of the Temple continued until it was finally completed during the reign of Darius I (522-486 BC). The Second Temple was dedicated in 516 BC.

During the reign of Xerxes I (486-465 BC) there was a concentrated effort to finish rebuilding the wall and Nehemiah was sent to assist with this project in 445 BC. Nehemiah became the governor of Judah and served under both Artaxerxes I and Darius II (423-405).

The Persian political influence on the returnees (who we can now refer to as “Jews”) was strong. However, they worked to establish an identity that rested on the authority of Moses as the Lawgiver. Ezra and Nehemiah insist that their innovations are applications of Mosaic Torah. They helped the Second Temple community develop as sense of being the fulfillment of the Land promised to Abraham and his descendants. This is the foundation of the religion of Judaism.

Judaism is the elaboration of rabbinic thought over 2500 years, and though it claims Abraham as its founder, Abraham was not a Jew. He was Horite Hebrew and the Horite Hebrew believed in God Father and God Son. Clearly, Judaism is not the religion of Abraham.

Prominent Jews readily admit that Abraham's Hebrew faith and Judaism are not the same. Rabbi Stephen F. Wise, former Chief Rabbi of the United States, wrote: "The return from Babylon and the introduction of the Babylonian Talmud mark the end of Hebrewism and the beginning of Judaism. This break came around 500 BC, at least 1500 years after Abraham.

For Jews, the greatest authority is the Talmud, as SUNY professor, Robert Goldberg explains: “The traditional Jew studies Talmud because it communicates ultimate truth—truth about God, truth about the world, and most important, truth about how God wants the holy community of Israel to live.”

The Rabbis are trained in argumentation and the Talmud is a record of their disputations. One drawback is the tendency of the rabbis to debate minutiae and esoteric matters. Over time the Talmud came to be of greater authority than the Hebrew Scriptures. The Talmud encourages this. Consider this exhortation: “My son, be more careful in the observance of the words of the Scribes than in the words of the Torah." (Talmud Erubin 21b), and this: "My son, give heed to the words of the scribes rather than to the words of the law." This also, "He who transgresses the words of the Scribes sins more gravely than the transgressors of the words of the Law." (Sanhedrin X, 3 f.88b)

Related readings: The Substance of Abraham's Faith; Abraham's Faith Lives in Christianity; Trinitarian Correspondences Between the Nile and Mesopotamia; Christianity is the One True Messianic Faith

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Something to Consider


Wall painting at Thebes

Many of the topics explored at this blog are also discussed in the international Facebook forum The Bible and Anthropology. Those discussions are lively and informative. 

That forum is not for theological conversation. Rather, we identify and discuss anthropologically significant data in the canonical texts. The purpose of the group is to advance the science of Biblical Anthropology.

These are a few of the topics we consider at that forum:

  • The social structure of the biblical Hebrew
  • Kinship analysis
  • Ancient biblical populations
  • Burial practices and grave goods of biblical populations
  • Artifacts and dating
  • Solar symbolism
  • Origins of the Messianic Faith (before Judaism)
  • The dispersion of the Horite Hebrew ruler-priest caste
  • Linguistic connections between Sumerian, Akkadian, and other Semitic languages
  • DNA studies that pertain to biblical populations

If you enjoy reading the posts at Biblical Anthropology, you will enjoy the discussions at The Bible and Anthropology. The members come from around the globe and represent different religions, including Judaism, Hinduism, Islam, and Christianity. We even have a few agnostics. Consider joining the forum. You would be welcome!

Alice C. Linsley

Friday, March 19, 2021

Two-Headed Statues


One of three 8000-year two-headed figures found at 'Ain Ghazal.

Two-headed busts have been found in Africa, Anatolia, Cyprus, Jericho, 'Ain Ghazal, Tell Brak (Syria), and Çatal Hüyük (Turkey). These may represent deities, honored ancestors, or deified rulers or chiefs. The oldest are classified as Pre-Pottery Neolithic statuary.

Among the Yoruba, the head is regarded as the seat of an individual’s essential energy and being.

Two-headed Nkisi from the Democratic republic of Congo (19th century).

The two-headed busts have parallels in the iconography of twin gods or goddesses from Neolithic times. Small statues and large reliefs showing two heads are found at Neolithic Çatal Hüyük and Tell Brak, and in Anatolia and Cyprus.

This practice of doubling is to images what reduplication is in language: it makes the message emphatic. It grabs the attention, and implies that the subject has extraordinary powers of seeing and hearing, suggesting omniscience.
Deities with two, three, and four faces are common in the iconography of many ancient populations. The Assyrian goddess Ishtar sometimes appears with two heads: “Istar of Nineveh is Tiamat … she has [4 eyes] and 4 ears...”

There are textual references in Enuma Elish concerning the two heads of the Babylonian hero Marduk. The following verses emphasize the divine nature of the subject.

Anu his father’s begetter beheld him,
And rejoiced, beamed; his heart was filled with joy.
He made him so perfect that his godhead was doubled.
… Four were his eyes, four were his ears…

In another translation:

“When Ea who begot him saw him, he exulted ... for he saw that he was perfect, and he multiplied his godhead … with four eyes for limitless sight and four ears hearing all ….”

The following verses of Enuma Elish convey the idea of the deity's omniscience, emphasized
by four eyes and four ears:

They (his features) were impossible to understand (and) difficult to behold.
Four were his eyes, four were his ears.
When he moved his lips, fire blazed forth.
Each of his four ears grew large
And (his) eyes likewise, to see everything.

Bicephalic anthropomorphic statuary is found in many parts of the world. This limestone sculpture from Papua New Guinea represents an ancestor.

This 3000-year two-headed figurine was found in Tlatilco.

This two-headed Buddha dates to c.1227.

This two-headed grave marker is in the Caldragh Cemetary on Boa Island in Ireland. It is estimated to be at least 2000 years old.

The biblical version of this concept is found in the multiocular celestial being of Ezekiel's vision (Ezekiel 1:18; 10:12). In certain manuscripts in the Old Church Slavonic this phrase is found with an rare glyph "серафими многоꙮчитїи" (serafimi mnogoočitii - "many-eyed seraphim"). Many-eyed creatures are also part of John's vision in Revelation 4:2-8.

The universality of the custom of two-headed figures attests to its great antiquity. 

Monday, March 1, 2021

Promoting YEC by Undermining the Truth


Alice C. Linsley

I am writing as a pioneer in the emerging science of Biblical Anthropology, an empirical approach to the canonical Scriptures that avoids denominational interpretations. A Biblical Anthropologist studies the Scriptures to identify anthropologically significant data that clarifies the cultural contexts of ancient biblical populations, and especially the social structure of the biblical Hebrew. This interdisciplinary approach considers kinship patterns, morphological study of human fossils, DNA studies, data about the migration of ancient populations, burial practices, and sacred symbols.

Biblical Anthropology is rigorous in that no assertion can be made without data and no assumption can stand untested. Anthropological data in the Scriptures can lead to a better understanding of the origin of the Messianic Faith among Abraham’s ancestors, shine light on contextual incongruities, and uncover antecedents of beliefs and practices. Where did the idea originate that humans were created from the soil? What is the origin of Messianic expectation? Where is the oldest known site of Hebrew worship? What is the significance of the ubiquitous solar symbolism among biblical populations?

Biblical Archaeology and Biblical Anthropology are complementary disciplines. The archaeologist digs artifacts to gain a better understanding of the material culture of populations associated with the Holy Land. The Biblical Anthropologist digs data out of the Bible to better understand the cultures and social patterns of biblical populations from Africa to Europe. The skill sets of the two disciplines are different, but they share a common objective to gain greater clarity.

I see a great deal of pseudo-science and half-truths among anthropologists who disdain religion in general and Christianity in particular. Their scholarship is like a map out of which numerous holes have been cut. Is it any wonder that so few anthropologists are people of faith? In the universities they are never shown the whole map. They miss the paths that lead to verification of the core Christian beliefs and the veracity of Scripture.

Yet anthropology has much to offer to the Church and to those to read the Bible. A principle in anthropological investigation states that the older culture traits, symbols, and beliefs are those found most widely dispersed globally. Expectation of a righteous ruler who would die and rise from the grave and lead his people to immortality was held by the Hebrew (Akkadian: Abrutu) ruler-priests 6000 years ago. They spread this belief wherever they dispersed in the service of kingdom builders like Nimrod. This means that their belief in bodily resurrection is central to the oldest known religion.

Young Earth Creationists consistently ignore anthropological data because it shows that humans have been around for millions of years. By insisting that the Earth is only 6000-8000 years, Young Earth Creationists deny the weighty evidence that God was laying the ground among archaic human populations for the Messianic Faith that would eventually be fulfilled in Jesus.

The hope for immortal life is evident in the widespread, archaic practice of burial in red ocher, a symbolic blood covering. Red ocher burials dating to 300,000 years ago have been found at site GnJh-03 in the Kapthurin Formation of East Africa, and at Twin Rivers in Zambia. 

Red ocher burials dating to 100,000 year ago have been found at the Qafzeh Cave in Lower Galilee.

A man buried at La Chapelle-aux-Saints in southern France was buried in red ocher 45,000 years ago.

A man was buried in red ocher in Paviland Cave, Wales 35,000 years ago.

Four bodies were buried in red ocher at Sungir in Russia 32,000 years ago.

A man was buried in red ocher in Goat's Hole Cave in Wales 27,000 years ago.

The "Fox Lady" of Doini Vestonice, Czechoslovakia, was buried in red ocher 26,000-23,000 years ago. Around the same time, Lake Mungo Woman (LM1) was cremated and her remains were sprinkled with red ocher in Australia.

A woman buried in Santa Maria di Agnano cave in Italy was buried 24,000 years ago with hundreds perforated shells and her head was covered with red ocher paste.

A man buried in Bavaria was buried with mammoth tusks and submerged in red ocher 20,000 years ago. Around the same time, a lady was buried in Paviland, Wales in red ocher. 

A woman was buried in red ocher in El Mirón Cave in Northern Spain 19,000 years ago.

A young child was buried in red ocher 11,000 years ago in Alaska.

The global nature of the practice of red ocher burial tells us that it is extremely old. It suggests that God has been pointing humanity to the Christ event for many thousands of years.

The Bible asserts that life is in the blood. That is true in terms of human biology and it is true in a metaphysical sense. The Blood covering that brings immortality has been revealed. Christians are to make this evident to the world. We cannot do that if we deny the facts or obfuscate the truth.

Related reading: Artifacts of Great Antiquity; On Blood and the Impulse to Immortality, The Age of the Earth and the Evidence of Human Occupation; Genesis and Inerrancy; Righteous Rulers and the Resurrection; Oldowan Culture of Archaic Humans 2.6 Million Years Ago

Thursday, February 4, 2021

Job the Horite Hebrew

“In the land of Uz there lived a man whose name was Job. This man was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil.” (Job 1:1)

Alice C. Linsley 

The land of Uz is named for the Horite Hebrew clan of Uz. Uz was a son of Dishan, a son of Seir the Horite Hebrew ruler of Edom who is mentioned in Genesis 36. The relationship of the Uz clan to Seir the Horite is shown on the diagram above.

Seir was a ruler in ancient Edom long before there was a king in Israel (Gen. 36:31) The Edom-Horite Hebrew connection is evident in Lamentations 4:21 - "Rejoice and be glad, O daughter of Edom, that dwells in the land of Uz…”  

In the book of Job, the last of Job's kinsmen to speak is Elihu, whose name means "word of God". El – is an ancient word for God, and Hu refers to the authoritative word in ancient Egyptian. (Pyramid Texts Utterance 251, and Utterance 697). Here we find a concept of the Divine Word that is similar to the Logos of John's Prologue.

Elihu was of the clan of Buz. Buz, Huz and Uz represent a three-clan Hebrew confederation. 1 Chronicles 5:14 says that the son of Buz was Jahdo (Yahdo), and Jahdo's son was Yeshishai, the Aramaic form of Yeshua/Jesus.

Most Old Testament scholars believe the book of  Job was written between the 7th and 4th centuries BC long after the time that Job would have lived. However, the book reflects more ancient Horite Hebrew customs and beliefs. Job is portrayed as a righteous ruler-priest who offers sacrifices daily to cover the sins of his family members. His connection to Seir the Horite ruler of Edom also connects him to the royal house of David whose hometown of Bethlehem was a Horite Hebrew settlement. That is why the Ark of the Covenant rested for 3 months on the property of Obed-Edom in Bethlehem. Obed was the first-born son of Boaz and Ruth. He is the grandfather of David. 

In 1 Chronicles 26:4 some of the Temple doorkeepers are designated "sons of Obed-Edom". Salmon, who married Rahab, is called the "father" (elder/chief) of Bethlehem in 1 Chronicles 2:54, and Hur (Hor) is named a "father" of Bethlehem in I Chronicles 4:4.

Edom is described in the Bible as one of the ancient seats of wisdom. The wisdom of the Horite Hebrew extended to medicine, astronomy, metal work, stone masonry, mining, animal husbandry, writing, commerce, navigation, agriculture, and architecture.

Monday, February 1, 2021

The Golden Calf in Anthropological Context

The celestial bull calf on an ancient Egyptian coffin; a symbol of salvation?

Alice C. Linsley

A detailed study of the biblical information about Aaron is revealing. He was a Hebrew priest who fashioned a golden bull calf, a Horite symbol of God's son, Horus (HR meaning "most High One" in Ancient Egyptian). The bull was a celestial symbol for God. In fact, the English word God likely comes from the anceint Akkadian word for bull, which is gud. This would explain why in Iceland, þjór' (thor) means bull and is the name of the High God of the Nordic pantheon, later displaced by Odin.

The Danish word for bull is tyr. In the Swedish language bull is tjur. Bull in Latin is taurus. These share the root TR which suggests a connection to blood, purity, radiance, the Sun, copper, gold, and holiness. The TR root is very old and it reflects the polysemic feature of the oldest known lexicons.

The terms for ritual purity in Sumerian, Akkadian, biblical Hebrew, Hittite, and Ugaritic are related to the idea of radiance. (See The Semantics of Purity in the Ancient Near East, p. 5.) The ancient Nilotes associated purity with the radiance of the sun, the emblem of the High God.

The Proto-Dravidian word tor refers to blood. In Hausa, toro means clean, and in Tamil tiru means holy. There is a relationship between tor and the Hebrew thr which means "to be pure." The people were made pure when the High Priest sacrificed the bull and made atonement with the blood of the sin offering (Ex. 30:1-10). In ancient Nilotic mythology, the deceased king must eat the celestial bull to achieve immortality.

Aaron's golden bull calf was a sacred symbol among the Horite Hebrew before Judaism. A late Jewish hand on Exodus suggests that this was an idol, and yet the bull was the central image at the shrines of Bethel and Dan. It represents the son's sacrifice that atones for the sins of the people. Judaism rejects the Horite Hebrew belief in God Father and God Son.

The sacrificial bull calf was shown overshadowed by the sun, a sign of divine appointment for the Horite Hebrew. This is a Messianic image. Aaron is not criticized for making this image. However, the people are criticized for worshiping the image. Here a distinction must be made between the symbolism of the golden bull calf and the actions of the people. To express this for people today, we make the distinction between worship of the cross and worship of the Messiah who died on the cross.

Monday, January 18, 2021

Zodiacs in Synagogues

In December 1928 a work crew from kibbutz Beth Alpha was digging a drainage canal when a worker's shovel started picking up pieces of mosaic. Soon after, Eliezer Lippa Sukenik and Nahman Avigad of Hebrew University began to excavate the site. They uncovered an almost complete mosaic on the floor of an ancient synagogue. When it was exposed, the mosaic measured 28 meters long (91.8 feet) and 14 meters wide (45.9 feet).

In the square panel of the Beth Alpha mosaic was a zodiac with 12 symbols, surrounded by four female figures at the corners, representing the seasons of the year. (Credit: Art Resource, NY)

In the center, a man is pictured driving a four-horse chariot through the heavens. He represents the annointed of the High God whose symbol was the sun. Among the ancient Horite Hebrew, the High God was said to have a son who rode his solar barque or solar chariot. This explains why rays of the sun radiate from the man's head.

Similar zodiacs with solar symbolism have been found in nunerous synagogues, testifying to the importance of solar symbolism in Judaism. The Jewish Sun blessing (Birka Hachama) is performed every 28 years.