Monday, May 12, 2014

The Christ Conspiracy, Chapter 23: Abraham and Druids in the mix (pt 5)

Murdock goes on to work Abraham into this concept. 

Another inhabitant of the crossroads of Sumeria was purported to be the biblical “patriarch” Abraham, whose story in fact reflects the merger of the Aryan/Egyptian cultures. [1, p. 384]
So, first Murdock comes up with a way of pretending that Sumeria was Aryan, then she uses this to show that Abraham is a symbol of Aryan-Egyptian cultural merger. This is not just conjecture, it is conjecture stacked on top of conjecture. Even then, Murdock is pretty unclear on what she means by any of this, but no matter what interpretation I can come up with, there's still quite the striking lack of evidence.
As demonstrated, the Abraham myth is paralleled in India, such that the “Ur of the Chaldees” apparently represents not the Sumerian city but an “Ur of the Culdees” in India, and the story of Abraham’s migration to Harran reflects the movement of an Aryan Brahmanical tribe into the Levant. [1, p. 384]
I have previously dealt with this particular claim, which is much weaker than Murdock's reference to it here implies.

The Abraham myth evidently represents the fanatic patriarchal followers of Brahma leaving India during a war over gender brought about by the change of the equinoctial ages, i.e., that from Taurus to Aries. [1, p. 384]
Is there any evidence for such a war? If there is evidence of such a migration out of India due to such a war at the time specified, where can we find it? How did the change of the equinoctial ages trigger this war? Where Murdock previously referred to it, no credible evidence was presented, only conjecture.

This Brahmanic tribe ostensibly migrated from the Indian region of Oudh (Judea), possibly from the village of Maturea, westward through Persia, ending up in Goshenz, “the house of the sun,” i.e., Heliopolis in Egypt, where it established a place named Maturea/Mathura. As the tribe migrated from India, it named various landmarks wherever it settled by the same or similar name as those of its homeland. The Abramites or Brahmans later moved back into Canaan from Egypt to create their own nation, dividing the land and extant peoples into the 12 zodiacal sections under “Jacob,” or Seth the Supplanter, and his “sons,” who were in reality tribal gods.[1, p. 384]
Where is the evidence for this movement out of Oudh? One reason India is very useful for this kind of unbridled speculation where names look like names elsewhere is the sheer size of India - there is a huge lot of towns and villages, many of which have names in multiple languages; historical regions overlap each other and have multitudes of names as well, thus making the likelihood of finding similar names elsewhere almost certain. The name of "Mathura" in Egypt seems to be more recent - al-Matariyyah seems to be a name that was given after Roman times. Arabic etymological dictionaries are few and far between, so I have no handy way of verifying this, however.

This kind of argument is particularly shoddy, as it can be used to prop up any claim - again, the Birthday Paradox explains why it's likely to find similar names of towns in distant lands even though they share no language.
Among numerous other etymological examples to support this migration theory, many of which have already been provided, Higgins points out that Hebrews are called “Yehudi” and that the Sanskrit word “Yuddha” means warrior, which the Yehudi certainly professed to be in their sacred texts. In addition, the father of Krishna was Yadu/Yuda/Yudi, or Judi, and the word “Shaitan”—“adversary,” whence comes “Satan”—is the same in Hebrew and Sanskrit. Higgins further states that the cradle of Buddhist and Jainist faith was in the Indian town of Jessulmer, evidently the same as Jerusalem, which, as we have seen, is also found in Egypt. [1, p. 385]
However, in the Hebrew language, Judah clearly is from a root meaning 'praise', whereas in Sanskrit the root means 'fight'. Also, Judah was only one of the Israelite tribes. I do not find anything along the lines of Satan for such a meaning in Sanskrit. Some reasonable transliteration, or the actual Sanskrit form would be helpful in verifying that I am right about this, however.

I am forced to conclude this Jessulmer is the same as Jaisalmer, founded in 1156. CE.[2, p. 406] That does pose quite the problem for the claim that Jessulmer is the cradle of Buddhism and Jainism, and it also undermines pretty strongly the idea that Jerusalem is named for it.

As for the assertion "Jerusalem, which, ... is also found in Egypt", let us review Murdock's claim:

Jerusalem, the Holy City

The word “Jerusalem” simply means “City of Peace,” and it is evident that the city in Israel was named after the holy city of peace in the Egyptian and Babylon sacred texts. As Graham says:

 The word Salem is not Hebrew in origin. In a Babylonian poem of 1600 B.C. we find a city called Salem, home of a might hero Daniel on whose exploits the scriptural Daniel is based.dccxlix

Jerusalem in the Egyptian mythos is “Arru-Salaam,” or Salam, Shiloam, Siloam. Arru is the garden or fields where the wheat or barley is sown and harvested, the Elysian fields, where Osiris, the sun, takes his rest. It was said that in order to “reap” the Egyptian paradise or Arru-Salaam, one’s “sowing” had to be in proportion to the reward; hence, “As you sow, so shall you reap.” Arru-Salaam is the celestial Holy City to which the “angels” ascend and descend the zodiacal ladder of Set/Jacob. The Holy City has no single location on Earth but appears first in the heavens and afterwards is constructed around the globe, being “the Eternal City, the City of the Blessed, the Holy City, the City of the Great King, the Heavenly City, the Eternal City that was the model of Memphis and Annu, Thebes and Abydos, Eridu and Babylon, Jerusalem, Rome, and other sacred Cities of the world.”dccl [1, p. 259]
I have left in the references to sources here - notice how no reference to any evidence regarding the Egyptian claim can be found? Other problems in this particular passage will be dealt with in an upcoming post about chapter 15.

This is followed by a bunch of assertions, occasionally backed up by Jackson or Higgins, that Egypt and India were the same culture. The lack of evidence backing it up is well obscured by the amount of times the same mantra is repeated throughout this chapter. Murdock goes on to make quite the statement regarding the Rosetta stone: 
The meanings of the mysterious Egyptian hieroglyphics were purportedly lost and only rediscovered with the unearthing of the Rosetta Stone by Napoleon’s troops and his linguist, Champollion. However, Higgins averred that the Rosetta Stone is a fake. If this assertion is true, and it certainly could be, considering that fakery and forgery have been all too common, it would indicate that the meanings had never been lost and that the stone was made by members of the brotherhood, which had maintained the ancient knowledge. We may speculate that in releasing this hidden information these individuals either were interested in the glory of its discovery or wished for the hieroglyphics to become known,“rediscovery,” of course, that eventually led to the exposure of the Egyptian pre-Christian mythos and ritual echoed in the New Testament.[1, p. 384]
I do not think I need to comment the level of delusion this hints at. After this, Murdock goes on to debate the druids.In the 19th century, some scholars - Higgins among them - wanted to show that the early settlers of Britain were Buddhist missionaries. 
The debate as to the origins of western culture does not end with Egypt and India but extends to the mysterious Druidic brotherhood, composed of ancient priests of the sun and masons who inhabited the British Isles. Like many others, A. Churchward averred that the Druids were an “exodus of Solar Cult people from Egypt.” As Pike also says: The first Druids were the true children of the Magi, and their initiation came from Egypt and Chaldea, that is to say, from the pure sources of the primitive Kabalah. They adored the Trinity under the names of Isis or Hesus, the Supreme Harmony; of Belen or Bel, which in Assyrian means Lord, a name corresponding to that of Adonai . . . The Druids, in fact, shared the same ancient “Chaldee” culture with the Egyptians, Indians and Phoenicians, including the proto-Hebraic sacred language. We have seen many demonstrations of the linguistical connection in cultures from Egypt to India, but the correspondence is also found in Britain. For instance, in Hebrew “Brith” means not only “covenant” but evidently also “holy land,” the same as the Sanskrit “Bharata,” meaning “pure or holy land,” which in turn is related to the “Britain” of the Druids. [1, p. 386]
Bharata is a cognate to English 'bear' (the synonym of 'carry', that is), with a secondary meaning of 'maintain'. Brith does not mean 'holy land' in Hebrew, although it appears in collocations with eretz - land -, to mark 'the land of the covenant'.  Britain comes from a Proto-Celtic word kwriteni - we know this since likely cognates in Q-Celtic languages have a k there, i.e. Old Irish Cruthne. Both the Welsh cognate prydyn and Old Irish cruthne refer to the picts. Linking Britain to Hebrew 'brith' is a favorite fallacy of the British Israelites. Again, very short words and bad linguistics cause unscholarly conclusions. The idea that the Celtic Druids "had" proto-Hebrew is weird and based on very shoddy linguistics, although indeed the Phoenician traders with whom we know they interacted spoke a language closely related to Hebrew.
Pike further reveals the difficulty of disentangling the influences on the British Isles:
The Druidical ceremonies undoubtedly came from India; and the Druids were originally Buddhists. The word Druidh, like the word Magi, signifies wise or learned men; and they were at once philosophers, magistrates, and divines. There was a surprising uniformity in the Temples, Priests, doctrines and worship of the Persian Magi and British Druids. The Gods of Britain are the same as the Cabiri of Samothrace. Osiris and Isis appeared in their Mysteries, under the names of Hu and Ceridwen. . .[1, p. 386]
This similarity can be accounted for by assuming that both are branches of Indo-European religion, the same religion from which the Brahmanical religion developed. Religion naturally changes over time, by external influences as well as internal ones. There is no need to posit any particularly weird hypotheses to explain this - what Murdock essentially is giving great support to here without realizing it, is the idea that Indo-European cultures derive from an Indo-European culture with a number of external influences.

And Hislop says:
Some have imagined that the Druidical worship was first introduced by the Phoenicians, who, centuries before the Christian era, traded to the tin-mines of Cornwall. But the unequivocal traces of that worship are found in regions of the British islands where the Phoenicians never penetrated . . .
[1, p. 386] 
Are Celts who have adopted religious trappings from Phoenician traders incapable of disseminating it further by themselves? This ascribes a very passive role to the Celtic peoples, which I guess fits with 19th century British views of imperial subjects.
Throwing yet another side into the debate, some authors, such as Conor McDari in Irish Wisdom: Preserved in Bible and Pyramids, have attempted to demonstrate that Western and Near Eastern culture emanated out of the British Isles, specifically Ireland, instead of the other way around. McDari’s hypothesis recognizes that “the pyramids and the Bible, when properly deciphered, reveal that the oldest and truest religion is sun worship.”mxliv [1, p. 386]
Similar contentions are made by any number of nationalist crackpots. Almost every nation has its pseudo-scholars whose sole desire it is to demonstrate that European culture or even global culture emanated out of their own native lands. Finland had Ior Bock, Turkey had the sun language hypothesis, the British isles have Conor McDari, the Greek have a number of them as do the Indians. Less extreme fabrications - in that global/western cultural origins are not posited, but in that a significant load of local history is invented from scratch can also be found among scholars from minority background. My own ethnicity of Swedish-speaking Finns have our very own crackpot along these lines, who interprets every archaeological find and toponym she can work into her thesis as evidence that the speakers of Swedish settled Finland before the Finnish-speakers. References to such pseudoscholars are not convincing.

As a final comment on this paragraph, it is a fact that sun worship goes back very far in human history. McDari's hypothesis recognizing such a claim, however, does not per se make his wider hypothesis true.

The chapter goes on with even wilder conjectures.

[1] D.M. Murdock, The Christ Conspiracy, 1999, Adventures Unlimited.
[2]  (Balfour, Edward (1885). The cyclopædia of India and of Eastern and Southern Asia:. Original from Oxford University: B. Quaritch. p. 406.) Credit for finding this source goes to Wikipedia.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

The Christ Conspiracy: Chapter 23: In and Out of Sumeria? (pt 4)

Murdock goes on to present evidence as to why Sumeria cannot be the origin of civilization. She however ascribes certain importance to it, as the melting pot at which Egyptian an Indian influences met:
In fact, as noted, the current paradigm favors Sumeria as the birthplace of human culture. While that may not be so, Sumeria has an important place in the debate, in that it serves as a crossroads between the cultures of Egypt and India. Like Egypt, Sumer had the god “Anu,” and, as Stone says, the “inference that there was some contact between Egypt and Sumer at the time is confirmed by the presence of Jemdet Nasr type seals.” Stone also notes that the tombs of Egypt’s 1 st Dynasty were influenced by Mesopotamia, based upon brick-building evidence and other artifacts, and that a fish trap depicted in Egyptian tombs is identical to that used by northern Europeans, evidently the same race as the early Sumerians, who, it is claimed, consisted of the infamous “Aryan invaders.”  [1, p. 383]
Firstly, contact between Sumer and Egypt is of no surprise to anyone. Who claims the Sumerians were "Aryan invaders"? Even wikipedia disapproves of such weasel words! We know the Sumerians spoke a language that is not related to Semitic, Indo-European, Hurro-Urartian, Dravidian, Uralic, any of the Caucasian families, etc. Contact between Egypt and Sumeria is attested, though, but this does not in suffice as evidence against Sumeria as the main source of western civilization. Nowhere does Stone identify the Ertebølle culture with the Sumerians, although she does mention a depiction of a similar fish trap as theirs. Of course, no sources or references given, so how are we to go about verifying whether these fish traps at all are similar or even the existence of that particular depiction? How are we to compare them?

It seems there is no scholarly consensus on where the Sumerians came from - were they tribes that had lived in that region for ages, did they move up from the Persian gulf as water levels rose, did they move south from the Persian, Anatolian or Caucasian mountain ranges? For some reason, it seems people want to know where else some group came from for every group ever. Obviously, mankind has emerged out of somewhere in Africa, and everyone living somewhere outside of the original human range have come there from somewhere - but generally when we answer the question where did this or that tribe come from we just pass the bucket one step further down a long chain, where every step gets less certain than the previous one. To our minds, it seems we are still rather satisfied when we know that this or that group came down from the nearby mountains, or whatever along those lines. We seem to be happy whenever we can posit some movement, because movement is something we perceive as giving a sufficient answer.

Of the Aryan/Iranian invaders, Larson says: 
These Iranians did more than drive the Semitic races into permanent eclipse: themselves descended from older Sumerians, they were the pre-historic conquerors of Egypt and India as well as the progenitors of the Greeks, the Romans, and the Teutons: in short, they have ruled most of the civilized world for two and a half millenniums.
[1, p.  383]
Were the Semitic peoples in a "permanent eclipse"? Several centuries later, Arabic Semites had one of the greatest empires of the world, and Semitic languages are still spoken by about 400 million people; certainly fewer than the three billion speakers of Indo-European languages, but still a significant amount compared to most linguistic families of the world, and definitely an increased geographical coverage compared to any time during antiquity. Of course, we shouldn't even compare the number of Semitic speakers to the number of Indo-Europeans - we should compare the number of speakers of Semitic languages versus Iranian languages (since the Indo-Europeans have not acted as anything even lightly along the lines of a 'metaethnicity' in thousands of years), anything else would not be comparing like with like in this case. Arabic itself is one of the world's major languages. As for Iranians being progenitors of the Romans, Greeks and Teutons, it suffices to say that such a notion has long been rejected for a good number of reasons - considering the Iranians, the Greeks and the Romans to be branches of an earlier root shared with the Iranians is a more realistic understanding of the history of the Indo-European tribes.
As noted, the Hebrews/Israelites were a mixture of different peoples, as confirmed by “Ezekiel,” who said of them, “your father is an Amorite, your mother a Hittite,” which is to say an Aryan. Thus, the Israelites were a combination of “sons of Japheth” (Indo-European/Aryan) and “sons of Shem” (Semitic), as well as “sons of Ham” (Canaanite/African/Cushite).[1, p. 384]
Can we really use Ezekiel as anthropological evidence? It seems to me that Ezekiel's statement, when taken in context, is far from a statement of anthropology - but is veiled in such terms. (This is yet another time when Murdock reads the Bible even more literally than Bible-believers tend to. The prophet's rant seems to be against foreign practices that Hebrews were adopting that he disapproved of, and he framed his criticism as an attack on the legitimacy of the people - they are not the offspring of Abraham, they are offspring of Hittites and Amorites. Compare how he also says Sodom is a sister of Jerusalem! Murdock's argument is taken directly from Merlin Stone's When God was a Woman, a work that relies on a rather historicist view on some of the early parts of Genesis. In fact, Stone assumes Ezekiel is referring to either Sarah or Abraham's mother. What is the chance that Ezekiel had accurate knowledge about Sarah's or Abraham's mother's ethnicity?[2, 108] What is the chance he had accurate knowledge about the origins of the Hebrew ethnicity? Alas, Stone gives no further references, so it is hard to tell whether other scholars have any more detailed reasons to think the Levites were Indo-Europeans. Her phrasing in the relevant chapter does seem to indicate she is aware his hypothesis will not convince a great many scholars (and thus also an admission that the scholarly consensus is not in her favor), which is probably the reason for the weasel-words in the next bit of Murdocks' work:
Indeed, as also noted, it is posited that the Levitical priesthood was Indo-European/Aryan, or Japhethite. In addition to their fiery mountain god and other factors, the Levitical marriage customs are similar to those of Indo-European peoples.[1, p. 384]
Yes, in fact, it seems this is posited at most by a handful of scholars, nearly all parroting the work of Merlin Stone. Also, "other factors" is not really sufficiently specific, thus again qualifying as a weasel word. Murdock further misread Stone, as he was not speaking of Levitical marriage customs, but of quite a different thing here: Levirate marriage customs, which the Torah prescribes for all tribes. The relevant passage in Stone's When God was a Woman that Murdock refers to (in fact, the reference goes just after "Indo-European peoples" in the above quote, to illustrate which particular claim Murdock is using the source to back up) says this:
Another curious similarity is the Hebrew custom of levirate marriage, that is, the law by which the widow of a man is assigned to her dead husband's brother, or if there is none, to her father-in-law. [2, 108]

Levirate marriage is the custom whereby if a married man dies without having fathered offspring, his brother is supposed to impregnate the widow in order that the deceased man's name continue. Levirate marriage does occur among some Indo-European tribes (but Stone does not tell us which), but it also occurs among African tribes [3, the title of the paper should suffice to prove the point], Turkic tribes, various tribes all over Africa, etc. In the African and Central Asian cases, this cannot be attributed to Islam having spread the practice, as Islam disapproves of it. (But the mention of it in the Quran[4, 4:19] may indicate it was practiced in pre-Islamic Arabia? On the other hand, Muhammad at times railed out against what he perceived as flaws in Jewish and Christian ethics, so the fact that the custom exists in Judaism may be sufficient to explain Muhammad's mentioning it in the Quran.)

The similarity between the words levitical and levirate is purely random chance. Levite comes from Levi, which comes from a Hebrew stem meaning 'join', whereas levirate comes from Latin lēvir, "brother in law", and is a modern designation for this type of marriage, a term not used in the Bible. If levirate marriage uniquely linked Indo-European and Hebrew societies, this would be somewhat remarkable. As I have demonstrated, it is not a custom uniquely shared by them, nor is Murdock's understanding of the topic even up to the level of understanding what she is reading, confusing two quite significant but distinct concepts as gravely as she does here. Her (unintentional?) misrepresentation of the source gives her thesis a much stronger apparent support than the actual source provided.

What further is somewhat misleading about this is the actual existence of levitical marriage practices, mainly consisting of restrictions on whom levites were permitted to marry: no widows, no divorcees, exclusively virgins, no harlots, etc. The mistake is easy to make, but also rather hard to spot - but should not cause a scholar to slip! Further, levitical also could refer to the book of Leviticus, but the levirate rules do not appear in that book.

Finally, it is of course quite likely that levirate marriage was a practice that spread throughout the Middle East at some stage of history, and later fell into disuse. Levirate marriage is absent in Hammurabi's law, but do appear in Assyrian and Hittite laws. I am not knowledgeable enough to determine where they originated. Any claim as to where the custom originated should have quite a bit of backing up. Murdock's sources do not provide enough data to conclude whether it originates with Semites, Indo-Europeans or some of the non-Semitic non-Indo-European groups of the region.

There's a weird undercurrent in the entire argument: it is as if Semites could not have come up with something like Judaism without the help of Aryans, thus a strong Aryan influence must be posited. Simultaneously, the argument does presuppose that many of the Aryan influences were bad, and that, in fact, Brahmanism is responsible for many of the bad traits of many religions. The argument, however, can mainly be rejected due to its circuitousness, lack of evidence and the weak reasoning presented in its favor. Occam's razor favors simpler explanations for the appearance of Judaism.

[1] D.M. Murdock, The Christ Conspiracy, 1999, Adventures Unlimited.
[2] Stone, Merlin, When God Was a Woman, 1976, Barnes & Noble
[3] NGA101045.E, see link
[4] The Quran, see

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

The Christ Conspiracy: Chapter 23: Out of India? (pt 3)

Murdock goes on to provide evidence that India is the origin of the Abrahamic religions.
The influence of Egypt is evident, but Higgins, Jacolliot and others have been equally insistent that culture emanated out of India, not Egypt, coming in waves beginning several thousand years ago, such as with Mitanni, the Indian kingdom in Syria (1400 BCE) whose inhabitants were called “Horites” in the Bible, and as otherwise noted, with a fresh infusion brought west by Alexander the Great three centuries prior to the Christian era. As Walker says, “From the time of Alexander the Great, Jain monks traveled westward to impress and influence Persians, Jewish Essenes, and later, Christians.” In fact, as we have seen, the correspondences
between the Judeo-Christian mythology/religion and that of India are numerous and important.[1, p. 380]
If Higgins and Jacolliot are the main scholars on which a hypothesis rests, the hypothesis really does not have good chances of holding up. The similarities of Judeo-Christian mythology/religion and that of India given in TCC are not all that convincing - several of them are rejected by scholars of Indian religion, for instance, and to a large extent Murdock is asserting the existence of these similarities without mentioning them. Granted, listing them more than once would be superfluous, but those that have been listed elsewhere in the book are far from convincing, and often based on either tendentious reading of evidence, bad sources or thin air. Murdock provides no source for identifying the Horites as Mitanni, nor has a cursory search through scholarly literature turned up any. The closest connection is that the Mitanni ruled over a Hurrian population, but I have found no scholar willing to identify the Horites and the Hurrians. The language spoken by the Hurrians is related neither to Indo-European or Semitic, its only known relative being Urartian, whereas the names of leaders of the Biblical Horites appear Semitic. More o nthe Horites will appear in the next installment.

As for the Mitanni, Bryant says:
Another alternative, to which most Western historians subscribe, is that these Aryans were a segment of the Indo-Aryans (after the split with the Iranians) somewhere in north Iran or central Asia who peeled off from the main group of Indo-Aryans who were migrating east toward India. Leaving the larger body, they sought their fortunes in the Near East, where, although successful, they eventually became subsumed by the local population.  [2, p. 136]
Bryant also mentions three other hypothesis: that the bulk of the Indo-Aryan population passed through the Mitanni lands and settled there for a while during their eastwards migration (almost universally rejected), that they are a group that reached India and later migrated westwards (held by a few), and finally a slight variation on the last one. Right now, if a hypothesis depends on the Mitanni coming out of India, it needs also to provide some backup for the claim that they do come out of India.
That the culture and religion of India are very old is obvious. As the “celebrated Orientalist” Sir William Jones pointed out, the Indian scriptures, the Vedas, appear to be of an “antiquity the most distant.” Indeed, some scholars have posited that the Rig Veda contains mention of an astronomical configuration that could only have occurred 90,000 years ago. The Hindu chronology, in fact, goes back millions of years, and there has been effort to push back true human civilization, rather than man’s apelike progenitors, to that era.[1, p. 381]
"...and there has been an effort...". By whom? There has also been an effort to show that certain races are inferior, and in the Soviets, there was an effort to show that acquired traits are inherited (Lysenkoism). It would also be worth providing sources regarding the astronomical claims - have the Vedas been correctly parsed? Have the astronomical calculations been carried out correctly? By not providing any references, Murdock is covering her back quite well.

It is standard scientific procedure not to make claims for which there is no evidence. Throwing caution to the wind is not how science is made.
Obviously, such “forbidden archaeology” is widely dismissed by the orthodoxy for seeming lack of solid evidence. Nevertheless, something certainly is amiss in the current orthodox paradigm, such that an overhaul is in order. Of course, conclusive proof of such antiquity would be difficult to provide, because millions of years have elapsed, during which there has been much cataclysm and scouring of the earth’s surface.[1, p. 381]
The above quote essentially is another appeal to unfalsifiability. We can only accept these claims on faith, as evidence for or against never can be produced. Scholarly caution requires us not to accept claims without evidence.
As to the origins of Indian culture, the current theory of “Aryan invaders” has also been challenged, particularly by Indian scholars. The Aryan invasion theory posits that a caucasoid people from the northwest invaded India around 4,000 years ago and established civilization and the intricate sacerdotal law of Brahmanism. This theory presupposes that prior to the “invasion” the Indian natives were barbaric and uncivilized. However, Indian scholars maintain that India produced a high culture long before the Aryans purportedly arrived, a theory evidently validated by the archaeological and historical record.[1, p. 381]
Murdock presents here a very outdated strawman version of the Aryan invasion theory. Again, Murdock would do well to give sources for these statements.
There were, in fact, pre-Brahmanical cultures and religions in India, those of the rishis and the Jainists, who profess their religion to be the oldest in the world. [1, p. 381]
Religionists professing something about their religion are not often the best source for the truth of the matter. If that were a valid line of inquiry, we would have to accept that Jesus rose from the dead and ascended, that Moses received divine law on mount Sinai, and that more than half of the religions of the world are the oldest religion. Jainism genuinely does seem to have pre-Brahmanic roots, though. This does rather support some relatively weak variety of the Aryan invasion theory, rather than Indigenous Aryans or Out of India hypotheses. Murdock does not make it clear what exactly her model in this regard is, so we are left to guess what she thinks. A source she refers to when mentioning Jain proselytization previously in this chapter - viz Barbara Walker's Women's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secret says they are a more recent development, the 6th century BCE.
Moreover, aspects of Brahmanism are in actuality similar to those of the Aryan Zoroastrianism, as well as of the Egyptian religion.[1, p. 381]
Which is just one further argument in favour of the Aryan Invasion theory. As for similarities with the Egyptian religion, Murdock seems to have thought assertion does cut it.
Brahmanism represents, in reality, a degradation compared to the earlier rishi culture, much as later Egyptian culture never reached the heights of the Pyramid builders. Indeed, fanatical Brahmanism was as base as Catholicism during the Inquisition, and the Catholic inquisitors took their hierarchy and methods of torture from the Brahmans. [1, p. 381]
The claim that Catholicism took methods of torture from the Brahmins would really require some backing up. Given that the Indian and European communities had similar levels of technology, and the human body is the same in both places, it is no surprise if methods of torture were the same in both. As to whether Brahmanism is a degradation of earlier rishi culture, such value-judgments are hard to make. Especially as we know very little thereof.

Based on all the evidence, Jacolliot was adamant that western culture emanated out of India, not Egypt. Says he:
Enquirers who have adopted Egypt as their field of research and who have explored and re-explored that country from temple to tomb, would have us believe it the birthplace of our civilization. There are some who even pretend that India adopted from Egypt her castes, her language, and her laws, while Egypt is on the contrary but one entire Indian emanation. . . . The Sanscrit is itself the most irrefutable and most simple proof of the Indian origin of the races of the Europe, and of India’s maternity.
 [1, p. 382]
Murdock pretends to be a linguist. She also quotes people who thought Sanskrit is the language out of which the Indo-European languages developed, and she quotes their statements as though they were authoritative and current. By the time of Jacolliot, historical linguistics was not well understood, but even then most serious Indo-Europeanists held that Sanskrit was only among the earliest of offspring of Proto-Indo-European. Basically, Sanskrit was one among a bunch of siblings - Hittite, Proto-Italo-Celtic, Proto-Balto-Slavic, Proto-Armeno-Hellenic, Proto-Germanic, etc were at about the same level. Sanskrit was, however, the earliest such close derivative to be attested (now, however, at least Hittite and Mitanni evidence predates Sanskrit. Also, the Sanskrit records were apparently only written down after being passed down orally for quite a while). Indo-Europeanists of today seem to think that 19th century scholars assigned too much weight to the Sanskrit evidence, thus 19th century attempts at reconstructing Proto-Indo-European ended up too close to Sanskrit in form, reinforcing an inflation of the supposed age of Sanskrit. More recent reconstructions have incorporated more evidence from other branches of the Indo-European family and found Sanskrit to be more distant than what scholars originally surmised, thus also reducing the supposed age thereof.
It is not definite that there is a single source of all human languages, but much western language certainly comes out of India, a fact known for millennia and now being revamped with the “Nostratic theory,” which seeks to trace language to India around 12,000 years ago. This Nostratic language was possibly either “Chaldee,” the ancient sacred lingua franca used by the brotherhood, or an even older version. [1, p. 382]
I have previously pointed out how this misrepresents Nostratic theory, which, by the way, is not accepted by almost any serious linguists outside of a few departments of historical linguistics in the former Soviet Union. Based on this, I am also lead to understand that either Murdock's understanding of historical linguistics is pretty weak or she is making claims she knows are wrong. Either way it is fairly damning regarding her scholarly credibility.
Jacolliot also states:
We shall presently see Egypt, Judea, Greece, Rome, all antiquity, in fact, copy Brahminical Society in its castes, its theories, its religious opinions; and adopt its Brahmins, its priests, its levities, as they had already adopted the language, legislation and philosophy of that ancient Vedic Society whence their ancestors had departed through the world to disseminate the grand ideas of primitive revelation.
[1, p.  382, in turn mainly quoting Jacolliot's The Bible in India, p. 68]
Except they did not adopt the language of India. The religions of Greece and Rome clearly were cognate to that of India, but none of the three were the proto-religion from which the other two stemmed - they all developed from a common stock over time. A claim such as Jacolliot's requires back up in form of facts, Jacolliot, as is common for Murdock's favorite sources, only makes assertions. As for Egypt and Judea, these clearly did not even have languages related to those of India (except for the Greek settlers in Ptolemaic Egypt). Relying on the scholarliness of Jacolliot is not something a scholar can do with the knowledge we have today.

Higgins likewise says:
There is not a particle of proof, from any historical records known to the author, that any colony ever passed from Egypt to India, but there is, we see, direct, positive historical evidence, of the Indians having come to Africa.
The various Indian migrations are further evidenced by the fact that Buddhism, far older than acknowledged, is found widespread beginning thousands of years ago. In addition to those examples previously explored, the Macedonians invoked Bedu (Buddha), and the Egyptian Pharaohs or shepherd kings were Rajputs, or royal Buddhists.[1, p. 383]
I guess we can reject this simply due to the sources being pretty unreliable. Rajput's etymology rather seems to be raja-putra, 'royal son'. The sources for all the claims in this paragraph are Higgins, whose scholarliness regularly fails to impress.
However, A. Churchward equally resolutely asserts, “The Buddhists and Brahmins in many of their religious ceremonies make use of words that are not Sanskrit, but are said to belong to a very ancient form of speech now dead. These words can be traced back to their Egyptian origins.” [1, p. 383]
Which words? Churchward does not care to mention what these words are, assuming his readers are willing to work that out for themselves.
In addition, the very ancient Egyptian god Osiris was purportedly remembered in remote regions of India, where a legend existed about him arriving there many thousands of years ago and establishing his religion. In fact, in “Sanskrit sat means to destroy by hewing into pieces,” and Osiris, of course, was cut into pieces by Set. [1, p. 383]
Sources? I find "zad" for that meaning in Sanskrit, which is probably close enough, but this still falls under chances for random similarity. I also duly note the lack of standardized transliteration. In addition, the number of words meaning something like "hew" or "cut" in Sanskrit is quite large, creating quite a good chance for such a coincidence. Maybe Murdock thinks misspelling it intentionally to make them look more similar is ethically acceptable? Maybe she thinks of her readers as incapable of understanding ideas like sound changes and therefore best spared from having to know things like this that make her thesis look less convincing? Is she intentionally trying to pull the wool over our eyes?

As usual, Murdock would be served by looking things up in dictionaries from time to time.
As can be seen, in our quest to establish the provenance of the mythos and ritual that became Christianity, we are at an impasse in choosing between Egypt and India.[1, p. 383]
As I have previously stated, might it be because this is a false dilemma? As I have shown, her evidence is far from convincing, and quite a significant portion of it rests on fabrication, misunderstanding or misrepresentation. Next installment will deal with her treatment of Sumeria and the middle East in general.

[1] D.M. Murdock, The Christ Conspiracy, 1999, Adventures Unlimited.
[2] Bryant, Edwin. The Quest for the Origins of Vedic Culture: The Indo-Aryan Migration Debate. 2001, Oxford University Press.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

The Christ Conspiracy: Chapter 23: Out of Egypt? (pt 2)

Murdock presents a summary of the arguments in favor of the claim that western civilization and in specific the Abrahamic religions mainly derive from Egypt. In doing so, she quotes a fair share of fairly bad scholars, ones whose claims now are known to be wrong - in many cases, this was also the case at the time they penned their fanciful alternative theories. There is a fair share of pretty bad reasoning in here as well. She does not question any of the statements made by her sources, and provides a rather hollow excuse for taking their claims at face value:
In actuality, these pioneers had access to information and discoveries now destroyed or lost—and there have been plenty—and were closer to the events, such that at times their assessments were even more accurate than those of today. For example, archaeologists and other scientists 200 years ago were dealing with a Great Pyramid that had several feet of debris around it, such as alluvial sand, salt and sea shells that indicated the massive structure was at some time partly underwater. As Joseph Jochmans relates:
The medieval Arab historian Biruni, writing in his treatise The Chronology  of Ancient Nations, noted: “. . . The traces of the water of the Deluge and the effects of the waves are still visible on these pyramids halfway up, above which the water did not rise.” Add to this the observation made when the Pyramid was first opened, that incrustations of salt an inch thick were found inside. Most of this salt is natural exudation from the chambered rock wall, but chemical analysis also shows some of the salt has a mineral content consistent with salt from the sea.
 [1, p. 378]

Fascinatingly enough, Jochmans does not tell us who carried out these chemical analyses, or when they did so, or by what method or how this mineral content is consistent with sea salt [2]. In fact, no sources whatsoever for any of the claims are provided in Jochmans' little fanciful essay. Further, the source in which his article can be found goes by the name Atlantis Rising, a zine not exactly known for its passion for genuine scientific reasoning. Jochmans does not even provide the page number or folio where Biruni's curious claim appears in The Chronology of Ancient Nations. I think this is because Jochmans misrepresents what his source says, and therefore decided not to make it easy for his readers to verify it:
The Persians, and the great mass of the Magians, deny the Deluge altogether; they believe that the rule (of the world) has remained with them without any interruption ever since Gayômarth Gilshâh, who was, according to them, the first man. In denying the Deluge, the Indians, Chinese, and the various nations of the east, concur with them. Some, however, of the Persians admit the fact of the Deluge, but they describe it in a different way from what it is escribed in the books of the prophets. They say, a partial deluge occurred in Syria and the west at the time of Tahmûrath, but it did not extend over the whole of the then civilized world, and only few nations were drowned in it, it did not extend beyond the peak of Hulwân, and did not reach the empires of the east. Further, they relate, that the inhabitants of the west, when they were warned by their sages, constructed buildings of the kind of the two pyramids which have been built in Egypt, saying: "If the disaster comes from heaven, we shall go into them; if it comes from the earth, we shall ascend above them." People are of opinion [sic], that the traces of the water of the Deluge, and the effects of the waves are still visible on these two pyramids half-way up, above which the water did not rise. Another report says, that Joseph had made them a magazine, where he deposited the bread and victuals for the years of drought.[3, p. 27-28, my bolding]
So, Biruni is reporting hearsay, which Jochmans' distorted quoting leaves out - this, if any, is quote mining. A cursory look at Biruni's book indicates he believed in a lot of hearsay that simply cannot be accurate - on the very same page, he quotes a decision made by Persian antediluvian kings in response to the encroaching flood.
Since the Pyramid was cleared, however, too few modern analyses take this fact into account in determining the edifice’s age.[1, p. 379]
Might it be that modern scholars ignore this due to it being bogus? Keep in mind here that not a single proper source is given along this chain of reasoning, and no pages are given for the single work that is referred to - a work of about 500 pages, a work that originates well and proper before the time when chemical analysis of salt encrustations could have been carried out with any reasonable accuracy.

In reality, the antiquity and sophistication of Egypt are profound, and, as has been seen, the Egyptian culture was highly influential in the creation of Judaism and Christianity, both of which carnalized and historicized much of the mythos and ritual in their scriptures. Indeed, many scholars have insisted that the Bible is entirely Egyptian. Of the Egyptian influence on the Hebrews, A. Churchward says:
The “Sacred historical documents” of the Hebrews are not historical at all, only traditions and copies from some other documents much older, which can only be traced to Egypt. . . . Modern research discovers in the Hebrew writings a composite work, not as the autogram of the Hebrew legislator, but as the editorial patchwork of mingling Semitic legends with cosmopolitan myths, which were copied from the Egyptians, either directly or indirectly, but without the gnosis.
Furthermore, the Phoenician city of Byblos, whence comes the word “Bible,” was an Egyptian colony as early as the 2nd Dynasty, i.e., 2850-2600 BCE. [1, p. 379]
Although one detail here indeed is accurate - the word Bible derives from the town name 'Byblos', the term signified books originally, and only later came to be applied to one specific book. We find a similar development in the Baltic Finnic languages: the Old East Slavic word gramota, from Greek grammata (singifying letters, writings) came to signify the Bible in Finnish, and books in general in Estonian, in the form raamattu/raamat. The etymological argument presented here is not, of course, presented as any kind of evidence, but why include it if not to help convince those readers who do not realize that this is an irrelevant fact? Granted, Byblos was in the geographical vicinity of Israel and Judah, and thus it had some influence on Hebrew society. There were more poignant Egyptian colonies in the region, though - so the reason Murdock mentions this factoid is probably to entice gullible readers.

It is also true, as she says, that the Bible is a patchwork. But this is not new or revolutionary knowledge by now - nor was it so when Murdock published The Christ Conspiracy. Those archaeologists and scholars that are not religiously predisposed to believing the Bible tend to reject rather large swathes of the historiography presented in it, and have done so for decades. The Copenhagen School is one prominent bastion of such thought, but such conclusions are not unique to the "minimalists". Academic scholars often provide a more nuanced picture of what probably went on in Israel than what Murdock and her sources do, while undermining religious beliefs even more efficiently. Alas, on Murdock's websites, her fans now present every scholar who disagrees with the Biblical account as confirmation of her particular thesis. [4]

Churchward also states:
The “Hebrew Scriptures,” no doubt were written in the Phoenician characters for many centuries, although they have not survived in this form, and the Phoenicians were first Stellar Cult and later Solar Cult Egyptians. . . . The whole of the imagery of the Hebrew writings can be read and understood by the original Egyptian, but not from any other source. The secret of the sanctity of the Hebrew writings is that they were originally Egyptian. The wisdom of old, the myths, parables, and dark sayings that were preserved, have been presented to us dreadfully deformed in the course of being converted into history.[1, p. 379]
Indeed, it seems the Hebrews only adopted the modern Hebrew alphabet from the Babylonians during the captivity. Until then - and to some extent all the way up to Mishnaic times, the Phoenician characters were still used in a mildly altered form in Hebrew writings - including on coinage from Bar Kochba's revolution. Rabbis of the Talmud discuss this parallel usage, having the to us mildly odd idea that sacred writings in Phoenician letters are less sacred - and therefore more acceptable for personal copies of the holy texts. It is of course well known that both the alphabets were used to write the Hebrew scripture (of which the Phoenician-derived variety still is in use in a slightly adapted form among the Samaritans) at various times in history, and thus no big surprise is presented here.

Ultimately though, which script was used for writing a thing is not really that significant. It informs us a slight bit about the influences a culture is exposed to - but we can clearly also see that the Hebrews subverted and rejected quite a number of the practices of their Phoenician and Aramaic neighbors, despite adopting their alphabets. Were the Phoenicians "first Stellar Cult and later Solar Cult Egyptians"? Such a claim requires some backup. The claim that the whole of the imagery of the Hebrew writings only can be read and understood by the original Egyptian is further rather daring - how would such a claim even be demonstrated? Even further, how would such a claim be proven wrong? Scholars have read and understood the Hebrew writings, and constructed reasonable scenarios for how they've developed and why they don't correspond to archaeological evidence (i.e. reasonable scenarios explaining what kind of social and political pressures led to these stories being composed). Churchward's approach would reject such hypotheses without looking at their merit simply because they aren't based on "the original Egyptian".

Churchward thus is guilty of making an unfalsifiable claim - in his view his Egyptian-based interpretation of the scripture was right because it is Egyptian based, and any other interpretation of it is wrong because it is not identical to his interpretation. Even if his claim is wrong, there can be no way of illustrating it that could convince anyone who has bought into his line of reasoning.
Jackson further relates Kuhn’s words concerning the origins of the Hebrew scriptures and Christian religion:
The entire Christian bible, creation legend, descent into and exodus from Egypt, ark and flood allegory, Israelite history, Hebrew prophecy and poetry, Gospels, Epistles and Revelation imagery, all are now proven to have been the transmission of ancient Egypt’s scrolls and papyri into the hands of later generations which knew neither their true origin nor their fathomless meaning. . . . [F]rom the scrolls of papyri five thousand to ten thousand years old there comes stalking forth to view the whole story of an Egyptian Jesus raising from the dead an Egyptian Lazarus at an Egyptian Bethany, with two Egyptian Maries present . . . Egypt knelt at the shrine of the Madonna and Child, Isis and Horus, for long centuries before a historical Mary lifted a historical Jesus in her arms. Egypt had from remote times adored a Christ who had raised the dead and healed the lame, halt, blind, paralytic, leprous and all afflicted, who had restored speech to the dumb, exorcised demons from the possessed, dispersed his enemies with a word or look, wrestled with his Satan adversary, overcame all temptation and performed the works of his heavenly Father to the victorious end. Egypt had long known a Jesus, Iusa, who had been born amid celestial portents of an immaculate parenthood, circumcised, baptized, tempted, glorified on the mount, persecuted, arrested, tried, condemned, crucified, buried, resurrected and elevated to heaven. Egypt had listened to the Sermon on the Mount and the sayings of Iusa for ages.
 [1, p. 379-380]

Papyri ten thousand years old? Come on. The oldest evidence of papyrus is on the order of 4500 years, and Kuhn wants us to believe he had some kind of relatively accurate idea about the contents of Papyruses twice as old as that? One questionable practice in Murdock's writing here is quoting Jackson quoting Kuhn; if I want to see what Kuhn is saying in context, I have to look up Jackson's book, then Kuhn's. This is not good scholarly practice. I do know harping on about that will not magically change the next chapter I review, but keeping tabs on this habit of hers is necessary in order to sum up the shortcomings of her book.

These Sayings of Iusa are, of course, the Logia Iesou that existed in the mystery schools long prior to the Christian era.[1, p. 380]
I find nowhere any mention of Logia Iesou prior to 150CE. Murdock does not provide sources here either. Nor does Kuhn anywhere in the quoted work declare the identity of Logia Iesou with any earlier texts from any mystery schools.[5, Introduction p. xi]

The next post will deal with her treatment of an alternative hypothesis: Western Culture emanating from India.

[1] D.M. Murdock, The Christ Conspiracy, 1999, Adventures Unlimited.
[2] Joseph Jochmans, How Old are the Pyramids, available at, originally published in Atlantis Rising.
[3]  The chronology of ancient nations  an english version of the Arabic text of the Athâr-ul-Bâkiya of Albîrûnî, or "Vestiges of the past" collected and reduced to writing by the author in A.H. 390-1, A.D. 1000. Translated and edited, with notes and index, by Dr. C. Edward Sachau., 1879,  Pub. for the Oriental translation fund of Great Britain & Ireland by W.H. Allen and co., London
A fair share of the claims in this thread only superficially agree with Murdock's claims, and then only if read without the kind of reading comprehension that science requires.