Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The Christ Conspiracy: Ch 16: Etymology Tells the Story

This chapter reaches some of the lowest depths this far in scholarly quality throughout the book. Murdock - who claims to be a linguist[1] - showcases her utter lack of care or understanding for linguistic methodology (for the relevant subfields of linguistics, obviously, as e.g. generative linguistics is of no or little relevance to her thesis). Few of the etymological claims she makes in it are built on any foundation whatsoever, and the few that stumble close to realistic guesses are interpreted in ways that derive too much mileage out of them.

Throughout this book has been a recurring theme that essentially weaves a tapestry of human unity not widely perceived. In order to appreciate further this unity, we can turn ot etymology, or the study of the origin and development of words, to demonstrate how closely cultures are related and how there has been basically one mythos and creed with many different forms. We will also discover, therefore, further evidence of what has been demonstrated herein concerning the Christ conspiracy.[2, p. 255]
Commendable as it is to claim human unity for the sake of peace, I think the unity she claims indeed is false. What is superior - to be peaceful due to a history of unity, or to be peaceful in spite of a history of conflict? It is better to learn from history (and not redo the mistakes of the past) than it is to learn from fabrication.

Many people believe that the concept of God as Father originated with Christianity, but this assumption is erroneous, as numerous pre-Christian cultures had their God the Father as well. [...]In the Greek mythology, the sky-god father-figure, aka "Zeus Pateras," who is a myth and not a historical figure, takes his name from the Indian version, "Dyaus Pitar." Dyaus Pitar in turn is related to the Egyptian "Ptah," and from Pitar and Ptah comes the word "pater," or "father." "Zeus" equals "Dyaus," which became "Deos," "Deus" and "Dios"--"God."[2, p. 255]
Although she indeed is correct that the idea of a fatherly God indeed predates Christianity and can be found throughout the early civilized world, and right in connecting Dyaus Pitar (द्यौष्पितृ), Jupiter and Ζεῦ πάτερ, she has the order of the connection down wrong - Jupiter, द्यौष्पितृ and Ζεῦ πάτερ all three derive from a common source, Proto-Indo-European *Dyēus phter. I have earlier documented this in a blog post about general abuse of linguistics.
Although most people think the name Jesus originated with the Christian godman, it was in fact quite common, particularly in Israel, where it was Joshua. As such the name appears in the Old Testament over 200 times. As demonstrated, the name Jesus also comes from the monogram of Dionysus, "IES," "Yes" or "Jes," among others. Jacolliot elaborates on these widespread names:
As we have seen, all these names of Jesus, Jeosuah, Josias, Josue derive from two Sanscrit words Zeus and Jezeus, which signify, one, the Supreme Being, and the other, the Divine Essence. These names, moreover, were common not only amongst the Jews, but throughout the East. 
[2, p. 256. 3, p. 301; the surrounding text does not contain any justification for the claim.]
Indeed, Jesus was a common name in Roman-ruled Israel, and may very well have been common before the Roman conquest too. Every serious scholar of early Christian history knows this, and it is also widely repeated in newspaper articles on findings that in some way or other have been interpreted as pertaining to Jesus of Nazareth, such as the (fabricated) James ossuary. I seriously doubt the claim that most people think that the name Jesus originated with Jesus of Nazareth - certainly I have run into the occasional ignoramus who genuinely believed something along those lines, but except for pre-sunday school kids, very few seem to hold such a notion. Obviously, there does not appear to be any need to debunk this particular mistaken belief. Murdock may want to be thorough, but if so I think that effort should have been invested elsewhere.

Jacolliot just makes an assertion without anything to back it up, no philological reasoning or anything, and Murdock quotes this wholesale in support of her position. Something more substantial is required.

As we can see, the source Murdock refers to does not establish the relevant correspondence by argument. If such an argument exists, it is somewhere else in that book - which the phrasing kind of suggests ("as we have seen" - where? It is not in the same chapter). For clarity and ease of following the argument, Murdock should have referred to wherever Jacolliot actually shows this correspondence. She does not. Furthermore, Jacolliot 's life span does not significantly overlap with the neogrammarian school of linguistics, and thus every etymology he suggested is suspect until shown to be in agreement with more methodological linguistics.
In other words, anyone anointed would be called "Christ" by the Greek-speaking inhabitants of the Roman Empire, who were many, since Greek was the lingua franca for centuries. As noted, in Greek Krishna is also Christos, and the word "Christ" also comes from the Hindi word "Kris" , which is a name for the sun, as is evidently "Krishna" in ancient Irish.[2, p. 256]
The claim that Krishna is ancient Irish for sun has been debunked previously in this blog. It would be good if she would specify which version of Greek Krishna is Christos in - in modern Greek, at least, I have found Κρίσνα, but then again my Greek is almost non-existent and it is possible there are texts where Χριστός does refer to Κρίσνα. I find it unlikely, though. The "As noted" part seems to be a kind of trick - nowhere is this noted elsewhere in the book, so I guess she thinks she can get away with not showing it if she indicates she has indeed shown it already. does almost exclusively find Χριστός in works related to Christianity, but does not find Κρίσνα or potentially different variants at all - seems as though its corpus of Greek texts either use a different name altogether, or are not interested in him whatsoever. It is of course possible that I just did not happen upon the name ancient Greeks used for him, or that their corpus is too small or that Krishna is not much discussed in the entire corpus of Greek texts of antiquity (although I found a suggestion that he is referred to as 'Herakles' by Megasthenes).
 Satan is an adaptation of the Persian representative of evil "Ahriman," the twin brother of "God," the same as the Egyptian Set, Horus's twin and principal enemy, also known as "Sata," whence comes "Satan." Horus struggles with Set in the exact manner that Jesus battles with Satan, with 40 days in the wilderness, among other similarities, such as the revealing from the mount "all the kingdoms of Earth." This myth represents the triumph of light over dark, or the sun's return to relieve the terror of the night. Horus/Set was the god of the two horizons; hence, Horus was the rising sun, and Set the time of the Sun-SET.[2, p. 257]
Satan, properly speaking, comes from the Hebrew verb שָׂטַן - to oppose, withstand, to be an opponent. There is of course no etymological connection between Set the Egyptian God and sunset. Whether Set and שָׂטַן are etymologically connected is less trivial to answer, as both Hebrew and Egyptian have several consonants that somewhat inconsistently are transcribed by s, and the same holds for t as well, and the Egyptian and Hebrew consonant systems were somewhat different. The Egyptian Seth apparently may have been pronounced something like Sutah originally, which doesn't really make it any more similar to Satan.  Set/Seth is a short word - which is rather significant as it increases the chance of random similarities. Finally, functionally Seth seems to occupy a rather different role in the Egyptian religion than Satan occupies in different Abrahamic traditions. To show that they somehow have the same origin, Murdock has to present some reasonable manner in which the two have diverged to reach their known forms from a common source. She does not do so, and is content with making just another assertion. 

In Hebrew, the name "Satan" or "Shaitan" merely means "adversary," not absolute evil being. The title of Satan as the "adversary," also at 1 Peter 5:8, refers to the sun as "Lord of the Opposite, which means a sign or constellation opposite to the sun at any given point." [2, p. 258]
As a source for this claim, she gives Kersey Graves' The Biography of Satan. He does indeed say the exact same thing, but provides no further source. Murdock, in a defensive rant about the quality of Graves' works, says she has researched his sources and found his claims justified. Why does she not then give a reference to the relevant source, instead of the un-verifiable Graves? I have attempted to find astronomical/astrological uses of adversarius and ἀντίδικος on, but to no avail (duly note my Greek and Latin are weak, and it takes me quite some time to work through the relevant texts). Some attestation of an astronomical use of either of these words - but preferrable the greek one - would be good. I doubt there is one, though. If someone knows of such a use, I would be happy to admit to this being a reasonable claim!

As for the defense of Graves' quality, I would suggest Murdock produces an annotated and referenced edition of his books, if she really thinks his value has been as underrated as she seems to think. In this case, Graves, as is his wont, omits to provide any source for his claim, so tracing it down is well-nigh impossible.
The origin of the "devil" also can be uncovered through etymology, in that the word comes from the Sanskrit term "deva" or the Persian "daeva" both of which originally referred to angelic entities, usually female, who were demonized by Christian propagandists. In actuality, "devil" shares the same root as "divine." In addition, the word "demon" is a Christian vilification of the Greek word "daemon," which likewise referred to a divine spirit. [2, p. 258; ]
Devil is not derived from Deva. Looking at the path the word has taken, it is pretty clear it is the result of several layers of sound changes on top of several layers of borrowing - it comes from Latin diabolus, from a Greek word of similar form, Διάβολος. Other languages throughout Europe have forms that have gone through fewer or different sound changes, and when we try and reconstruct what the ancestor of Swedish djävul, Dutch duivel, German Teufel, Russian дьявол, Spanish diablo, Irish diabhal, Italian diavolo, etc, we are led to conclude that the scholarly consensus on this particular word is pretty solid. Again, Murdock is misled by accidental similarity between English and "eastern" languages. It is not clear, by the way, that the devas primarily were feminine. In fact, there is a separate Sanskrit word for feminine beings of the same kind, viz. devi. Divine and devil do not share a root - divine comes from divus (whence also deus), devil ultimately from Greek διαβάλλω, to slander. The daevas were already considered evil by the Zoroastrians, so any Christian demonization of them does not have to be posited. An old Zoroastrian creed states "I declare myself a Mazdah-worshipper, a Zoroastrian, an enemy of the Daevas, holding Ahura's law"[4, p. 125, see also 137-138.]. Ultimately, the amount of confusion present in Murdock's claim here is staggering.

Of course, the English word 'devil' and deva/devi/daeva do look (and sound) similar, but a linguist would realize this kind of coincidence does happen. Murdock further focuses too much on English - as though English reliably contains hints as to secrets about religion and history that other languages do not. She claims to know Spanish, French and German - why does she never use hints hidden in these languages to support her case, or is English somehow special in retaining them? Is the Volksgeist of the anglosaxons especially well suited to be consciously deceived (explaining why so many of them do believe in the existence of the devil as the main opponent of God) but unconsciously somehow retain an unusual number of hints towards the truth in the shape of their words? Magic thinking is magic. 

As Hazelrigg says: The "Holy City" is likewise a term essentially solar, being the same as the Phoenician word hely, and having its root in the Greek helios, Sun; whence Heliopolis, the city of the Sun.[2, p. 259]
Except, in the Bible it was עִיר קֹדֶשׁ, ʿi:r qodeš. Greek helios and Germanic holy have no connection, and it is worth noting that holy, heilig, helig, etc were not used in Christianity until Germanic tribes were converted. In Greek, holy was hieros, in Semitic languages it was derived from qodeš and in Latin, obviously, sanctus. Hazelrigg tries to deduce the origins of a concept through looking at a linguistic coincidence in a language spoken over a millennium later. Hazelrigg was an astrologer, and not a linguist. His understanding of the world lacked all scientific rigor. 
"Bethany", site of the famous multiplying of the loaves, means "House of God," and is allegory for the "multiplication of the many out of the One." [2, p. 259]
Except "Bethany" does not mean "House of God". There has been some debate as to its meaning, with suggested translations being house of dates, house of misery and a few others. The claim that it is allegory for the "multiplication of the many out of the One" should be given some kind of supporting argument - assertion does not quite cut it.
The "great" king Solomon, so-called wisest man in the world, with his 1,000 wives and concubines, should today be considered an immoral criminal, were the story true. obviously, this absurd tale is not historical. In fact, "Sol-om-on" refers to the sun in three languages: "Sol" is Latin, "om" is Eastern, and "on" is Egyptian. "On" means both "sun" and "lord," reflecting an association found in countless cultures. Solomon can also be  traced to the same root as "Salvation," which is related to "Salivahana," the Indian savior-god. [2, p. 260]
 Again, as said elsewhere, Solomon does not come from Sol-om-on - in fact, in the Hebrew language his name was (and still is) Šəlomo, a transparently semitic name, with the -n on the end in European renditions of the name stemming from a Greek grammatical addition, much like how Philo was rendered Philon in Greek. "Om" or "on" signifying sun in the relevant languages needs some back up as well, and there are of course more than one Eastern language. Her source for this claim claims that On is Ethiopian, rather than Egyptian, so she is at the very least misreading or misrepresenting her source on a tiny detail there as well (although I cannot find such a word in either). As for Salvation, it derives from Indo-European *solo, which meant whole, and by Latin had changed meaning towards safe. Salvation, thus, is making safe, as in saving. As for Salivahana, the provided source is Higgins, whose credibility should by now be recognized as worthless. All other sources I have found on Salivahana seem to indicate his life-span was significantly later, and the similarity may very well be entirely random. Few sources I have been able to obtain say much about him, though. India has had a significant amount of royalty (of which Salivahana was a member), deities and royal deities, and finding one whose name is superficially similar to someone else cannot be particularly challenging.

I have previously pointed out fabricated words in her works - including the claim that Scandinavians call the sun "John" and that Persians call it "Jawnah" [2, p 262]. There is further rather tendentious interpretation of Jesus' mentioning the sign of Jonah at Matthew 16:4, as in that sign being the sun. The very same gospel makes it clear what the sign of Jonah is supposed to be, though: "For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth." Yes, an astrotheological interpretation is still possible, but Murdock's interpretation skips over the important bit of actually explaining what the sign of Jonah is supposed to be, and hurries along to a JESUS = SUN conclusion a bit too carelessly.

Towards the end of the chapter, she goes on with some made up words, such as old Irish "budh" for the sun (which I previously have written about), conflating "Bull" and "Baal", and so on.

Like all other sciences, etymology is not exact or perfect, and etymological speculation at times may be faulty. Nevertheless, the theme demonstrated is too overwhelming to be dismissed.[2, p. 263]
Etymology is especially far from exact or perfect when no attempts to separate the wheat from the chaff are made, when unbridled speculation is the order of the day, and when it is driven by ideology rather than genuine scientific curiosity tempered by rational skepticism. Murdock's attempt showcases all these problems The theme she tries demonstrating is far from overwhelming, and in fact is easily dismissed - and on good grounds even then. However, the theme I have been trying to demonstrate - her credulity, unscientific mindset and lack of scientific rigor - is indeed too overwhelming to be dismissed. Indeed, there are more problematic claims in this chapter - some, I have decided not to include because obtaining sources gets tedious at some point, some I have decided not to include because they are similar to other problematic claims that I did include, and so on.

As a final comment, the chapter does not produce a coherent argument, just showcasing a bunch of supposed connections between religious ideas in disparate places. The linguistic evidence presented is too often English-centered (for regions where no Germanic languages ever have been widely spoken) or just pure speculation (often even demonstrably mistaken speculation). Together, these two problems combine to make the chapter lack direction, coherence or even a proper point. Meanwhile, easily impressed ignoramuses will be convinced and the arguments presented will be repeated on every religion-oriented forum ever as undeniable truths, and people will be mislead into thinking that this is genuinely how linguistics is done.

[1] D.M. Murdock,, on her website she also has a repost of a third-party blurb for or review of her book The Christ Conspiracy where she is called a linguist, The first link contains this explicit statement: "Again, I am not a "skeptic" with some passing interest in mythology. I am what I say I am: an archaeologist, historian, mythologist and linguist."
[2] D.M. Murdock, The Christ Conspiracy
[3] Jacolliot, Bible in India
[4] James Hope Moulton, Early Zoroastrism, 1926. Hartz, O'Brien and Palmer also concur in their Zoroastrism, 2010 (pages 91 and 140).

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