Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The Christ Conspiracy, Ch10, pt 2

Before going on to interpret the Bible in her own peculiar allegorical way, Acharya manages to squeeze in just one more iffy bit.
The Jewish nighttime worship is also reflected in the noncanonical Epistle to Diognetus, an early Christian writing which further demonstrates that astrology was important to Christians, as, while the author obviously does not like the way in which the Jews are consulting the heavens, he does consider the "cycle of the seasons" to be "divinely appointed":
As for the way [the Jews] scrutinize the moon and stars for the purpose of ritually commemorating months and days, and chop up the divinely appointed cycle of the season to suit their own fancies, pronouncing some to be times for feasting and others for mourning...
As we can see, the Hebrews/Israelites, like the other peoples around the world, revered a number of aspects of the heavens, both the night sky and the day. ... In fact, as is written in the Book of Jasher, which is given scriptural authority at Joshua 10:13 and 2 Samuel 1:18, but which was suppressed in large part because of its obvious astrological imagery, Abraham's father Terah "had twelve gods of large size, made of wood and stone, after the twelve months of the year, and he served each one monthly" (Jas. 9:8). Abraham himself is also represented as first worshipping the sun until it set, and then the moon. [1, p. 137]
The Book of Jasher? Well now, which particular book of Jasher is she speaking of? The Rabbinic book of Jasher? Ibn Ezra's Commentary on the pentateuch? Pick a century - 12th, 13th, 14th or 15th, each of those have had a book of Jasher written during its span. The Book of Jasher from Old Testament times is unknown. [2]

The particular narrative she is referring to does occur in a midrash collection by that name, with a terminus ante quem of 1550ish - maybe originally written as early as the 9th century, and the story she cites from it probably is somewhat older. However, projecting that back to Biblical times with no evidence in favor of the claim that this book has "biblical authority" is quite misleading.

Acharya's proffered explanation as to why this book is not in the Bible is that it was suppressed due to explicit astrology. However, no other medieval Jewish book has widely been accepted by Christianity either - no matter whether there was astrology in it or not (c.f. how widely accepted Moses Maimonides is in Christianity - not at all, yet few opponents of astrology take such a staunchly negative view of astrology as Maimonides does!). Again, Acharya S misleads her readers. A more reasonable explanation is simply that it was authored significantly later than the canonization of the Bible, and therefore it was clear by the time it started circulating that this is not the Book of Jasher mentioned in the Bible, and thus it was fairly clear both among Jewish and Christian scholars of the time that it was of much more recent vintage - that in fact, the name was given to it as a ruse by whoever authored it.

As for exclusion from the Jewish canon, other midrashes - not included in the canon, but used in Torah study and as important instruction in rabbinic Judaism - do include the same narrative.

[1] Acharya S, The Christ Conspiracy

[2] http://www.sacred-texts.com/chr/apo/jasher/index.htm

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