Saturday, November 9, 2013

The Christ Conspiracy: Chapter 15, pt II

The fifteenth chapter, The Patriarchs and the Saints are the Gods of other Cultures contains several more problems than the ones listed in the previous post. I have been trying to list only the significant problems I run into, as otherwise, this review would take forever.

The chapter presents the following Biblical characters and post-Biblical Christian saints, with some associated characters:

  • Noah
  • Abraham and Sarah
  • Moses
  • Joshua
  • David
  • Joseph (Jesus' father)
  • Mary
  • St. Josaphat
  • St. Christopher

I have already covered the (main) problems of the Noah subchapter, and one problem with the Abraham subchapter. There are more problems with the Abraham subchapter, so I will return to that chapter further down. By and large, most of these characters probably indeed did not exist - and that is a significant fact that does lend some credibility to the thesis that Jesus might not have existed either.

Regarding Abraham - who very probably is mythical, of course - Murdock states:
Although Abraham and Sarah are held up as the patriarch of the Hebrews and Arabs, the original Abraham and Sarah were the same as the Indian God Brahma and goddess Sarasvati, the "Queen of Heaven," and the story of Abraham's migration is reflective of a Brahmanical tribe leaving India at the end of the Age of Taurus. This identification of Abraham and Sarah as Indian gods did not escape the notice of the Jesuit missionaries in India; indeed, it was they who first pointed it out. [1, p. 239]
The claim that Jesuit missionaries were the first to point it out is supported by a source, but the rather more remarkable claim about Brahmanical tribal migrations more than 4000 years ago is given no supporting sources. Is there any evidence for this claim? Good form would be to provide some kind of references, so that the reader is able to assess the weight of the evidence. Again, Murdock fails at this.

She further emphasizes some kind of connection between Abraham and Brahma, but the only piece of evidence ever given is the similarity of the names - no thematical similarities, no shared qualities, no shared narratives are given.
Brahma and Sarasvati were apparently also turned into the Indian patriarch Adjigarta and his wife Parvati. Like Abram/Abraham, in the Indian version Adjigarta beseeches the Lord for an heir and eventually takes a young red goat to sacrifice on the mountain, where the Lord speaks to him. As in the biblical tale, a stranger approaches Parvati, who gives him refreshments, and tells her that she will bring forth a son named Viashagagana (Isaac), "the reward of Alms." When the child is 12, the Lord commands Adjigarta to sacrifice him, which the father faithfully begins to do, until the Lord stops him and blesses him as the progenitor of a virgin who will be divinely impregnated. [...] Of the near-sacrifice by Abraham, Graham says, "This too is an old story and like so many others in the Bible, originated in India."[1, p. 239]
The source given for these statements is Lloyd Graham's Deceptions and Myths of the Bible, a book that provides no primary sources for any claims given in it. Graham's shoddy understanding of linguistics - showcased in the previous post I made - is so bad as to be funny:
In Persia the name was originally Abriman, which also acquired an h and became Ahriman-- an "evil deity; the ruler over the kingdom of darkness." the[sic] Babylonians also had their Abraham, only they spelt it Abarama. He was a farmer and mythologically contemporary with the Hebrew Abraham. [...] Now to form an earth every Creator, except the Jews' and Christians' must have a female consort, matter. In the Greek myth the Creator marries his sister, shocking indeed; in the Hebrew he marries his half-sister, which is quite all right. To our Bible students these little touches are called "Jewish refinements." Here the consort was Sarai, and as with Abram and Brama, an h was added and she became Sarah. But it so happens that Brahma had another name, Ishvara, and his wife was Shri. And when you take the vowels out of Sarai, as the Hebrews did, and add the h, you have Shri. The letter h signifies life, and thus did Brama, Abram and Sarai in due time receive life, or being, which implies that in the beginning they did not have it. [2, p 111-112]
Although in some languages - particularly western European ones - the first consonant in Shri is written using the sequence sh, this does not signify any particular "aitchiness" to that sound. In the languages where Shri was spoken of, the first consonant of the name was written with a single letter. This addition of aitches to signify something simply does not work like Graham thinks it does. He was an ignorant fool, and one that didn't care to provide sources for his oftentimes outrageously outlandish notions. Similar conceptual confusion as the one pointed out above can be found everywhere throughout his terrible polemic. Using such sources does not inspire confidence either in the value of the thesis that refers to them or in the author's ability to assess the credibility of sources. There are credible sources that help establish that Abraham was not historical. This wild goose chase for an Indian connection is weird and weak.

As for Moses, she claims a Syrian parallel in 'Mises', an Egyptian 'Manes', Cretan 'Minos', Indian 'Manou', Bacchus as 'Misem' [1, p. 241, p. 243] - these claims mainly resting on the authority of the ever so reliable Lloyd Graham, meanwhile accurately noting the parallel basket-in-a-river theme appearing in stories regarding Sargon and several others.

Were it not for the shoddy scholarship showcased in the chapter - it mainly calls for better sources and less far-out speculation - it could actually be fairly good. Far-fetched and sometimes probably fabricated (by her sources or by the sources' sources) claims recur throughout the text. Meanwhile, she has the gall to accuse (admittedly, accurately so) others of salting excavation sites - her use of charlatan scholars as sources is no more excusable a behavior.

Indeed, a sufficient argument against Moses' historicity would have been the lack of archaeological evidence for the exodus ever having taken place, and the impossibility for such a sizable operation to have been carried out during that time. As for Abraham, anyone claiming historicity definitely bears the burden of proof on their shoulders. As for David, it is slightly less clear cut, but the lack of evidence for a powerful Israel at the time he was supposed to have lived, and the lack of any clear references anywhere else to him are problems for the claim of historicity. One steele mentioning the House of David (as a dynasty) does apparently exist, but that is probably not sufficient evidence per se. If Murdock only had picked that low-hanging fruit, this chapter would have been good. Not revolutionary, though - as seems to be her objective, even if she has to throw scholarly care and scientific caution to the wind in order to attain revolutionary results.

At times, she seems to descend into pure obscurity:
The Exodus is indeed not a historical event but constitutes a motif found in other myths. As Pike says, "And when Bacchus and his army had long marched in burning deserts, they were led by a Lamb or Ram into beautiful meadows, and to the Springs that watered the Temple of Jupiter Ammon." And Churchward relates, "Traditions of the Exodus are found in various parts of the world and amonst people of different states of evolution, and these traditions can be explained by the Kamite [Egyptian] rendering only." indeed, as Massey states, "'Coming out of Egypt' is a Kamite expression for ascending from the lower to the upper heavens." [1, p. 243]
What about these traditions can be explained by "the Kamite rendering only"? What does the Kamite rendering even entail? As for Massey, she gives the wrong source - The Historical Jesus and Mythical Christ - when in fact this statement can be found in The Natural Genesis vol II, p. 395, which again probably wasted quite an amount of time on my part. The Natural Genesis is not even mentioned in the bibliography. The source that Massey in turn gives is "Great Mendes Stele, Museum at Boolak, Records, viii. 92." Needless to say, I have been unable to locate any copy of Records, viii. 92. I have, however, found a translation[3] of the Great Mendes Stele, which does not confirm his statement. Due to his phrasing, it is unclear whether his source is supposed to support that claim or the next claim:
'Coming out of Egypt' is a Kamite expression for ascending from the lower to the upper heavens, which were divided in the equinoctial signs². [4, p. 395]
Even if 'coming out of Egypt' had such a significance in some religion, the fact that Egypt was a hugely influential power at times means people would come and go out of it. Thus, at times we must accept that people used phrases signifying leaving Egypt in a literal sense, and that probably not all uses of such a phrase is ancient religious  thing code for something. However, it does appear undeniable by now that Massey made shit up.

In some fairness, some parallels presented between Jesus and Joshua are intriguing, and the two saints presented are clearly mythical. These details do support her thesis more than most evemerists would admit,  but are not sufficient.

The problems in this chapter to a great extent reinforce my suspicion that Murdock has not understood that A implies B does not imply B implies A. That is, if a claim is true ('B'), it does not follow that every claim that supports B is also true. This is a very important thing to realize if you want to reason about things, it is downright trivial to make up untrue claims that support true ones - yet it seems to Murdock, no matter how outlandish a claim ('A') that supports her thesis ('B') is, if it ('A' )supports her thesis ('B'), it ('A') must also be true. This creates a circular structure to her argument: we are supposed to know her thesis is true based on the evidence, and we know the evidence is accurate because her thesis, which they support, is true.

With this, I conclude my review of chapter 15.

[1] D.M. Murdock. The Christ Conspiracy, Adventures Unlimited 1999
[2] Graham, Lloyd. Deceptions and Myths of the Bible, Bell Publications, 1979
[3] Birch, S. 'The Great Mendes Stela', retrieved on November 9, 2013
[4] Massey, Gerald. The Natural Genesis, pt II. Black Classic Press, 1998, originally published 1883.

No comments:

Post a Comment