Examination

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Personal Examination

Egyptian mask

Regarding some of what I will be writing here, a more extensive collection of scholars' insights can be found gathered especially in a small volume - More Evidence that demands verdict (volume two), by J. McDowell - which delves into 'higher criticisms of the Bible.' (Volume One centers on Jesus Christ but it's opening chapters also discuss numbers of copies of translations, etc. and origins of our modern Bible).

pyramid

The modern pagan assertions to me recently are, that various portions of the first five books of the Old Testament are derivative initially of pagan religion, etc. The assertions are there especially since Moses as author, was educated in Egypt. Some may conclude he drew on ancient Sumerian and Egyptian writing to supplement his own - and hence leading to the conclusion the Bible has original pagan sources - as opposed to the Bible stories being the original artifact, and those pagan stories being derived from the Bible stories (or coming from the same source such as natural disaster - the flood - but with different religious-based interpretations of why it happened)... Similar views that monotheism evolved out of polytheism have also been set forth by Hegel, compounded by others, and quickly refuted by scholars (various argument and debate is laid forth in the above volume and will not be repeated here).

wall with Egyptian drawings & hyropgliphics

The essence of the overall analysis leads me to see that from the beginning, the Bible text is quite different, although similar terms from the surrounding culture may be borrowed to help with comprehension, or plugged for useful concepts. But the overall theology behind it is quite different, despite any similar terms. Firstly I will discuss the use of 'El' in the name of God in the Bible - since it is recognized that it does appear in the heathen religions of the time, then discuss the various accounts of Noah, the creation story and the name "Eden" - since creation and the flood story especially are two stories which are found more widely in various tribal legends and stories.

Elohim and Yhwh (pronounced Yaweh or Jehovah)

Appearance of 'El' (from Elohim) in other writings:

"That name Elohim, reminds me of the Earth Chronicles by Zecharia Sitchin books. He is looking at ancient artifacts, mostly clay tablets that tell the stories of Ancient Gods of old as they were called. In them is one about a God called El as being the topmost or head of the Gods. The ending 'him' is reminiscent of ancient Sumarian writing of the written language of the Anunnaki."

The use of Elohim verses YHWH (YHWH being the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, etc).

[Umberto Cassuto - Jewish Scholar & late professor at the Hebrew University.]

"First consider the character of the two Names. They are not of the same type. The designation 'Elohim' was originally a common noun, an appellative, that was applied both to the One God of Israel and to the heathen gods (so, too, was the name 'El). On the other hand the name YHWH is a proper noun, the specific name of Israel's God, the God whom the Israelites acknowledged as the Sovereign of the universe and as the Divinity who chose them as His people. Let me cite a parallel by way of illustration. A certain city may be called Jerusalem or simply city. The appellation city is common to her and to all other cities; the name Jerusalem belongs to her alone. When the ancestors of the Jewish people realized that there is but One God, and that only 'YHWH, He is Elohim' (I Kings xviii 39), then the common substantive 'Elohim also acquired for them the signification of a proper noun, and became synonymous with the name YHWH. If Jerusalem had been the sole city in the world of those who spoke Hebrew, then of course the word city would have become a proper name synonymous with Jerusalem." (119)

"The great innovation on the part of the Israelites consists in the fact that, while the writings of the pagans give expression, on the one hand, to the abstract and general notion of Divinity, and, on the other, make mention of some particular god, in Hebrew literature the concept of the specific God of Israel is completely identified with that of the God of the whole earth. YHWH, whom the children of Israel recognize and before whom they prostrate themselves, is none other than 'Elohim, of whose dominion over them all men are more or less clearly conscious, and whom they are destined to acknowledge fully in time to come. This is the sublime thought to which the Biblical poets give expression through the variation of the Names" (123)

Thus here we have the first clear distinction between the use of El, Elohim and YHWH with regard to regular old paganism and the Old Testament writings.

hyrogliphicsHandbook to Life in Ancient Egypt by Rosalie David goes on to say,

"Egypt dominated the politial arena for many centuries, and it is, therefore, not surprising that aspects of their civilization permeated the beliefs and customs of neighbouring and successive cultures."

She explains the possible influences of Egyptian writings could be in Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomen, Psalms and Job in style and content - especially Proverbs which David adds "The text was composed in the Ramesside when Egyptian influence on the Israelites was probably at its height. The author of Proverbs possibly had direct access to the instruction of Amenemope, although it is conceivable that they both derive from a lost source." (128)

However, where religion is concerned, David sees a clear distinction:

Christianity and Judaism were fundamentally different from Egyptian religion [emphasis mine] in that they are considered to be scriptural religions - based on God's revelation to mankind - whereas Egyptian religion was founded on ritual and cultic practises." (128).

Mummy

Indeed the picture above of an 'Osiriform' coffin lid represents Isis in the form of a kite being impregnated by the mummified Osiris. "The fruit of this union was Horus, archtyoe for all the 'Horus-Kings' of ancient Egypt" (pic. 31, Graham H.R. Bauval, The Message of the Sphinx). Nowhere in the Biblical text is any kind of human-animal mating - even symbolic of the divine - noted as anything other than perversion:

"Do not have sexual relations with an animal and defile yourself with it. A woman must not present herself to an animal to have sexual relations with it; that is peversion." - Leviticus 18:23.

Noah & Flood Stories

One 'Outside' Interpretation: (i.e.: outside the Biblical text) ancient stone with writing

"In the Sumarian account of Noah... His name was Ziusudra. In brief this account tells of Earth suffering from an Ice age and the polar caps becoming unstable with bacterial slime growing under them. The reason Noah, which means 'Respite', was so named was his father Enosh was hoping his birth would signal a respite from the suffering they were undergoing due to this Advancing Ice age. Accounts tell us they even stooped to cannibalism as food was in short supply. It was during these trying times that the Gods sons saw the daughters of men. In The Sumerian texts, it relates the hardships as well as some of the Gods dislike for their sons taking daughters of men for sexual gratification and producing children. So briefly they were going to let the impending flood they knew was soon to take place wipe all of mankind out.

"They got all the Gods to swear to keep it secret and not tell mankind about it. But one cared a lot for his Noah, actual name to the Sumarian King Priest God being Ziusudra. So the account goes he figured out a way to tell Ziusudra, Noah, but not directly. He stood behind a screen and told him about the impending flood and even gave him details of how to build a vessel that could weather the storms to come etc. per Genesis account of it.

"The reason these Gods knew exactly when it would occur was because their planet the 12th in our Solar system that orbits in a wide eliptical orbit entering our system every 3,500 years, was due to swing in and too close to Earth. Its gravitational pull was going to slide the unstable Ice caps off their bases and cause tidal waves, flooding of all the Earth and wipe all life away."

A Personal Christian Perspective:

stone tablet with flood story from another ancient culture

It has been written that those who do not accept the Bible as God's word insist the flood story was borrowed from surrounding cultures - yet evidence of it in surrounding cultures is what we expect to find if the flood happened. And various flood stories and legends do exist with native Americans, Aboriginees, and Eskimos (in addition to world wide scientific evidence of a global flood). Memories of it are less distorted in cultures geographically and chronologically closer to the Middle East (since mankind now originates from Noah's family) than those far removed, like the flood legends of the native Americans and Aboriginees. Parallels are amazing, often including the part about sending out the birds, the sacrifice after the flood, sometimes the rainbow and how many people were saved - see the ancient Chinese pictogram:

ancient Chinese pictogram

What we can know from this point in history is that the flood was a historical reality - regardless of how it was written about religiously. Archeology is useful insofar that it can tell us if something existed - such as the 2 tablets with the 10 commandments - but not that God's finger wrote them. That is in the realm of belief. Where you have so many stories about such an event paralleling each other, you can discern the reality of the event. But, whether God or gods are in control of the external realities is faith, again. It is equally possible to say that the heathen cultures distorted what originated with God, YHWH and his chosen as written in the Bible, into the many pagan deities worshipped by some of Adam's descendants.

Creation

One 'Outside' Interpretation: (i.e.: outside the Biblical text)

"Genesis came into mention. This is one of the first of 5 books Moses wrote. Keep in mind a few facts about it. (These are facts as far as I know) Moses was raised as an Egyptian to become the next Pharoh. So he had access to the ancient tablets of Hyergliphical writings of old. Many were passed down from Sumarian teachings of Mesopotamia. The language he was taught to write and read was in this format. Hyrogliphics or pictorial writing. He undoubtedly wrote the account of Genesis, copying the ideas and concepts from the Sumarian origins of man. We know this as he used the term E.DEN a Sumarian word. Then 800 years after he wrote the Genesis account I believe it was Jacob who translated it to Hebrew. Again the ? comes up how accurate was the translation?

"This Bibical name Eden is of Mespotamian origin stemming from the Akkadian 'edinu', meaning "plain". The divine title of these acient Gods, who were E.T.s that came here in space ships or rockets was DIN.GIR = 'the righteous/just ones of the rockets." The Sumerian name for the Gods abode was E.DIN = 'home of the righteous ones'. E. being the term for home, DIN being the word for 'righteous ones".

A Personal Christian Perspective:

Mesopotamian Seal

As with the usage of 'El' as a common noun or 'God' in the more general sense which everybody understood, versus YHWH, the specific name of the Hebrew God, I see a similar usage of Eden from the surrounding cultures - or at least that which Moses might have studied. If it is true that Eden's stem is from the Akkadian for 'plain' - then it could be another appellative which has become a proper name in Hebrew literature, much as the Hebrew word for 'mankind' has also become the proper name for 'Adam.' That is to say, Moses does not refer to Sumerian religious legends in the Biblical text - but the language is possibly the same because of Moses' education. He could be using the overall philosophical idea of 'Eden' as 'home of the righteous ones' since Adam and Eve were righteous in Eden. After the fall, and when sin entered the world, they were kicked out of Eden. Similarly, John used the philosophically loaded word 'logos' to apply to Christ, even though 'logos' and its inherent philosophical implications originated from the Greek culture. Moses could have simply borrowed from what he has studied in terms of language - but not to express pagan concepts that relate Eden as a place for literal deities other than THE God (YHWH). To further this point, one may observe that the specific name of the Hebrew God, YHWH, appears with 'Elohim in the story of the Garden of Eden. It is not 'Elohim only in the Garden of Eden. (See section above for the significance of the Names).

That Jacob translated it is without real validity if you go into greater detail. The book mentioned at the top goes into the various theories of who composed the first 5 books (there have been many theories at least since the 18th century) and where you can see Mose's influence - not merely in content but also with word studies, certain references to Egyptian customs, for example, Genesis 43:32. It also details apparent inconsistencies - which are not inconsistent at all in detail when taking into account the style of Hebrew literature. Again, there is no point in recounting here all the arguments which are already present in the McDowell volume.

One thing that separates out Biblical creation is that the overall powerful God creator makes a creation which is 'good' and finally 'very good.' Man's initial place in the creation is far above nature, to rule and subdue nature - not worship it. In other places in the Bible there is a good deal of mockery for anyone who worships things made out of nature's resources - wood and stones, silver, gold, etc. I.e.

Psalms 115:4-7 Their idols are silver and gold, the work of men's hands. They have mouths, but they speak not: eyes have they, but they see not: They have ears, but they hear not: noses have they, but they smell not: They have hands, but they handle not: feet have they, but they walk not: neither speak they through their throat.

Deuteronomy 4:28 And there ye shall serve gods, the work of men's hands, wood and stone, which neither see, nor hear, nor eat, nor smell.

Kings II 19:18 And have cast their gods into the fire: for they were no gods, but the work of men's hands, wood and stone: therefore they have destroyed them.

Such 'gods' are always linked to the 'heathens' (pagans) of the day - those essentially worshipping trees and stones - these being part of the created order, not the creator Himself. Spirits that are perceived in trees and stones and other idols are explained as demonic inhabitants (in the same way that the demons inhabited a herd of pigs in the New Testament), severely leading the converts astray by disguise.

Finally:

One 'Outside' Interpretation: (i.e.: outside the Biblical text)

"MY point is their God was perhaps human. Now if they were human as in the Sumerian records of the Akkadians, Gods of old who were in fact E.T.s with the ability to live forever, clone us, raise the dead etc. as the Sumerian accounts reveal, then it would be understandable. But to try to justify the deeds of this Heinious God as being alright, as nice or just, is to me too far out and one has to have blinders on. Of course if one doesn't in fact die it is just fun and games anyway. All a part of experiencing the Alpha and Omega, Yin and Yang, Dark and light, first and last of all."

A Personal Christian Perspective:

It is common for pagan deities to be more human like. My high school drama teacher when studying Greek plays remarked on that while the many pagan Greek gods always had at least one flaw, mirroring human flaws, the Judeo-Christian God is proclaimed perfect and flawless. Now, if we are not perfect, how can we imagine a perfect God or his actions unless he intervenes in our lives to tell us of Himself and present Himself (especially through Jesus Christ)? No, without God's intervention, it is understandable that mankind would create flawed gods - since that is all mankind can understand on his own, being flawed and imperfect himself. The temptation in Eden was indeed to let Eve think she could be like a god.

The following article may explain why the actions of the God of the Bible are far from heinous. It would be better to base questions, etc. on the nature of God's judgments after reading the following articles, and still realize our judgement of the issue can come from a lack of understanding for what perfection is - in justice and mercy.

How God could command the slaughter of the Canannties?

It is dangerous when we place ourselves in the position of judge. "Judge not lest ye be judged" can be applied equally to people as to the divine deity - and especially to The Diety. Our judgement can lead to a hardened heart. In any case, the best approach is humility.

It is the conclusion of this piece of work that the God of Genesis is in no way derived from pagan gods or the ideas of other cultures but rather something quite different from the standard - so different in fact that it's certainly worth asking oneself - could this be the real God who is so highly distinguishable from all the rest in form and nature?