Saturday, February 9, 2013

The Christ Conspiracy, chapter 10, pt 1


In chapter 10, Acharya enters a long sequence of eisegesis. Her main contention here is that
The Bible is, in actuality, basically an astrotheological text, a reflection on what has been occurring in the heavens for millennia, localized and historicized on Earth. This fact is further confirmed by numerous biblical passages concerning the influences of the heavenly bodies, but it also becomes clear through exegesis of the texts from an informed perspective.[1]
 She does point out one thing accurately - the church has, through history, had a rather shifting and inconsistent view on astrology, condemning it at one point, embracing it at another. The same can be found in medieval Judaism, with even less condemning of it. In medieval Judaism, Moses ben Maimon stands out as pretty much the singular voice to reject astrology - and on a rather scientific basis at that. Even Maimonides' followers came up with ways to accept most of Maimonides' philosophy without having to reject astrology.

As a slight diversion, medieval kabbalah and probably also earlier forms of Jewish mysticism have had a variety of views on astrology. One of the views common among kabbalists was that astrological powers ruled the other nations, but the Jews were independent of that influence or at least capable of evading it.
Those individuals who believe the Bible to be the "literal word of God" are not only unaware of its symbolism, they are also ignorant of the passages within the Bible itself which clearly reflect that at least certain aspects of the biblical tales are allegory. ... Just as we get to the good stuff, "Ezekiel" springs it on us that he is speaking allegorically about the cities of Samaria and Jerusalem, ... It is also evident that this type of allegorical speech is used more often in the Bible than its writers and proponents would wish to admit. As in the lusty Ezekiel tale, a number of other biblical places, nations and tribes are frequently referred to allegorically as "he" or "she," which makes it difficult to figure out whether the speaker is talking about a person, group, place or thing. [1]
Acharya is barking up a rather small tree here; very very few believe the Bible to be exclusively literal. Most literalists admit that there are bits that are allegorical. (I doubt there are even a handful of any measurable intelligence that believe the prodigal son is a historical person, nor do I think there are more than a few in an insane asylum that believe in a literal fulfillment of "All my bones shall say, LORD, who is like unto thee, which deliverest the poor from him that is too strong for him, yea, the poor and the needy from him that spoileth him?", or that the net in the same psalm necessarily has to be a net, most literalists understand it to include any instrument of deceit: "For without cause have they hid for me their net in a pit, which without cause they have digged for my soul.")

The use of "he" or "she" as a pronoun for a tribe is not necessarily allegorical, though, as Hebrew lacked a neuter pronoun - if the author was referring to a tribe, a nation or a town as a unit, he had to use either the masculine or feminine pronoun. Anyone with a rudimentary understanding of grammatical gender would understand this, and realize that there is nothing weird about it. Of course, at times there is genuine allegory going on, and feminine and masculine pronouns occur in allegorical and metaphorical portions as well, their presence is neither sufficient nor required to establish whether something is an allegory or not.

 In the same way, it is not metaphorical when "Babylon is fallen" in Jeremiah 50:2 has a verb inflected for a feminine subject [see appendix], as Babylon in Hebrew is a feminine noun. To do as Acharya and indicate there is something necessarily metaphorical about that is pulling the wool over the eyes of those who are ignorant of languages different from English. Acharya, learn linguistics already - you are after all calling yourself a linguist on occasion! And while you are at it, try not to miseducate people about language. But what do I know, maybe German Wikipedia is being allegorical when it says "Die Schweiz hat aufgrund ihrer topographischen Struktur und vor allem aufgrund der Vergletscherung während der Eiszeiten rund 1’500 Seen, ein Grossteil davon sind kleinere Bergseen."[2] - "Switzerland has, because of her topographical structure and especially due to the glaciation during the ice age, 1,500 lakes, the largest part of which are small mountain lakes".
The Christian cheerleader "Paul" also knew that there was allegory in the Bible, as he so stated at Galatians 4:22-5, in reference to the story of Abraham having sons by two women. As to these women, who we are led in the Old Testament to believe are real, historical characters, Paul clarifies what they actually represent:
 Now this is allegory: these two women are two covenants. One is from Mount Sinai, bearing children for slavery; she is Hagar. Now Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia; she corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children.[1]
Is that really what they actually represent? Did the author of the Pentateuch really mean that Hagar was to represent the adherence to the law? This sounds ... very iffy. And very much adhering to the idea that the authors of the entire Bible all shared a single theology, one which was explained and revealed by later authors - that Paul knew genuine secrets about the intended meaning of the Pentateuch.

Or Acharya should phrase herself differently, saying that Paul provides an allegorical interpretation or something - at the very least omitting the word actually unless that is what she genuinely means. On the other hand, she uses intense words like "actually" routinely without considering what they actually mean as a way to impress the reader.

Now, it may seem like an unwarranted reading - who would write something with such a meaning, after all, certainly it must be me misreading her. Further into the book, she makes claims that do fit with the idea of a secret meaning of the pentateuch being passed down behind the scenes from the authors until Paul unveiled it.
 Thus, again, we discover that biblical characters are not actual persons but allegory for places. We also discover that certain places are allegory for other places:
... and their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city which is allegorically called Sodom and Egypt, where their Lord was crucified. (Rev. 11:8) 
 Of course, this fact is hidden by some translators, who render the word "allegorically" as "spiritually".[1]
Although I have pointed out and will be pointing out in greater detail that excessive literalism in translation is  a mistake, Acharya here goes to excessive literalism in combination with fabrication. The word in the Greek text is πνευματικῶς, of which the first morpheme, pneuma- means spirit. Acharya, a purported Greek scholar, etc. You know what I am going to say there already.

In Psalms 19, we hear about the heavens "telling the glory of God ... there is no speech, nor are there words; their voice is not heard; yet their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world." To the uninitiated, this sounds strange- how can the heavens tell the "glory of God?"[1]
If Acharya even tried a bit, she would realize she herself provides us with an explanation that is both simpler and more reasonable than what she presents here - allegory! The heavens, through being such immense and awesome things, were seen by the Psalmist as witnesses to the even more awesome and immense creator.

Appendix: A few instances of Babylon as subject of verb phrases in the Hebrew bible

 with KJV translation:
  • וְהִנֵּה־זֶה בָא רֶכֶב אִישׁ צֶמֶד פָּֽרָשִׁים וַיַּעַן וַיֹּאמֶר נָפְלָה נָֽפְלָה בָּבֶל וְכָל־פְּסִילֵי אֱלֹהֶיהָ שִׁבַּר לָאָֽרֶץ׃"And, behold, here cometh a chariot of men, [with] a couple of horsemen. And he answered and said, Babylon is fallen, is fallen; and all the graven images of her gods he hath broken unto the ground.", Isa 21:9 [3]
  • הַגִּידוּ בַגֹּויִם וְהַשְׁמִיעוּ וּֽשְׂאוּ־נֵס הַשְׁמִיעוּ אַל־תְּכַחֵדוּ אִמְרוּ נִלְכְּדָה בָבֶל הֹבִישׁ בֵּל חַת מְרֹדָךְ הֹבִישׁוּ עֲצַבֶּיהָ חַתּוּ גִּלּוּלֶֽיהָ - "Declare ye among the nations, and publish, and set up a standard; publish, [and] conceal not: say, Babylon is taken, Bel is confounded, Merodach is broken in pieces; her idols are confounded, her images are broken in pieces." Jer 50:2 [3]
  • אֵיךְ נִגְדַּע וַיִּשָּׁבֵר פַּטִּישׁ כָּל־הָאָרֶץ אֵיךְ הָיְתָה לְשַׁמָּה בָּבֶל בַּגֹּויִֽם - "How is the hammer of the whole earth cut asunder and broken! how is Babylon become a desolation among the nations!", Jer 50:23 [3], goes on with 2nd person feminine in next verse, as the text metaphorically addresses Babylon as though it were the personal addressee of the text.
  • Similar examples can be found - about maybe a dozen or so; the method I've used to check a bunch of these was looking for Babylon on, pick every hit where Babylon is the subject in the English translation, but a sample of the other hits tends to bear out that the KJV maintains the voice of the Hebrew relatively well; a few other indications of Babylon being grammatically feminine exists, such as a few possessive suffixes that pretty much exclusively make sense if they refer back to Babylon, all of which seem to be feminine, unless I have missed some out. As a speaker of a language with three genders - the standard Indo-European masculine, feminine and neuter - I am not surprised at all. And some things, I can even refer to by two or all three of these, because some nouns that can refer to the same thing differ in gender. In Germanic languages, though, there seems to be a stylistic avoidance of referring to countries by pronouns. 
[1] The Christ Conspiracy, Acharya S, 1999
[2], 9th february 2013.
[3], as to the gender marking on the verbs, c.f. any Biblical Hebrew verb paradigm ever, for instance this: . For a further understanding of verbal gender congruence in Biblical Hebrew, any Biblical Hebrew grammar ever. For an understanding of verbal gender congruence in general, there's ...

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