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.

No comments:

Post a Comment