Monday, February 27, 2017

Old Testament Cosmology

I've been working on a project on ancient Near Eastern cosmic geography (which I can't say much about right now) and thought I'd share a diagram I've been working on. Of course, all of the features in ancient Israelite cosmology also have their counterparts in the texts and drawings of surrounding civilizations so the cited passages are just a small representation of our source material for reconstructing the ancient conception.


The geek stuff:
This illustration draws on the attempts of previous scholars, including Nahum Sarna, Understanding Genesis: the Heritage of Biblical Israel (New York: Schocken Books, 1966), 5. Incorporating the iconography of Leviathan and the seraphim is an idea I owe to Othmar Keel’s illustration in Altorientalische Miniaturkunst (Mainz am Rhein: Verlag Philipp von Zabern, 1990), 15. Foremost of all, I have benefited from a graphic entitled “Ancient Hebrew Conception of the Universe” produced by Karbel Multimedia for Logos Bible Software (2012), which has been recently published in the excellent NIV Faithlife Study Bible: Intriguing Insights to Inform your Faith, ed. Barry, Mangum, Brown and Heiser (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2017). An excellent survey orientation of Israelite cosmology among biblical linguists has been written by John R. Roberts, “Biblical Cosmology: The Implications for Bible Translation” Journal of Translation 9.2 (2013), 1-53.

On the heavenly serpents of ancient Israelite religion shown in the upper register of this illustration (the seraphim), s
ee Philippe Provençal, “Regarding the Noun שרף in the Hebrew Bible,” Journal for the Study of the Old Testament 29.3 (2005), 372; Othmar Keel, Jahwe-Visionen und Siegelkunst: Eine neue Deutung der Majestatsschilderungen in Jes, Ez 1 und 10 und Sach 4 (Stuttgart: Verlag Katholisches Bibelwerk, 1984), 102, 104, 109; William A. Ward, "The Four-Winged Serpent on Hebrew Seals." Rivista Degli Studi Orientali 43.2 (1968), 135-43, and the T. N. D. Mettinger entry “Seraph” in Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible ed. K. van der Toorn, Bob Becking, and Pieter Willem van der Horst (Leiden: Brill, 1999), 743.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Response to atheist Jaclyn Glenn on Jesus being a copy of pagan gods

I created this machine-gun-style refutation of some mythicist claims a while back. If anyone throws these ideas at you, the video may be a good source to link to them.



Original video:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_2kO7...

Citations:
1] Yamauchi sent me his article “Easter—Myth Hallucination, or History” elaborating on this. It can be accessed in digital format here: http://www.leaderu.com/everystudent/e.... The portions in this video are quoted from him in a more recent interview by Lee Strobel, The Case for the Real Jesus: A Journalist Investigates Current Attacks on the Identity of Christ (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2007), 168-169.
2] Leonard Patterson, Mithraism and Christianity (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1921), 94, cited by Yamauchi in Strobel, 170. I was embarrassed after making this video, when I realized Patterson was writing in the 1920s. More recently, Bart Ehrman was asked about Freke and Gandy’s book which emphasizes Mithras worship and he responded: “This is an old argument, even though it shows up every 10 years or so. This current craze that Christianity was a mystery religion like these other mystery religions-the people who are saying this are almost always people who know nothing about the mystery religions; they've read a few popular books, but they're not scholars of mystery religions. The reality is, we know very little about mystery religions-the whole point of mystery religions is that they're secret! So I think it's crazy to build on ignorance in order to make a claim like this.” Bart Ehrman, interview with David V. Barrett, "The Gospel According to Bart," Fortean Times (2007), 221.
3] Gary Lease, “Mithraism and Christianity: Borrowings and Transformations,” in Aufstieg und Niedergang der Römischen Welt, vol. 2, ed. Wolfgang Haase (Berlin/New York: Walter de Gruyter, 1980), 1316. Cited by Yamauchi in Strobel, 170. “After almost one hundred years of unremitting labor, the conclusion appears inescapable that neither Mithraism nor Christianity proved to be an obvious and direct influence upon the other in the development and demise or survival of either religion.”
4] Strobel, The Case for Jesus, 169.
5] “Mithras” in Encyclopedia of Religion, 2nd Edition, vol. 9, Ed. Lindsay Jones (2005 Thompson Gale), 6091.
6] Manfred Clauss, Richard Gordon, The Roman Cult of Mithras: The God and his Mysteries, (New York: Routledge, 2000) 62-3. Quoted by Strobel 168.
7] Andrew McGowan, “How December 25th Became Christmas,” BiblicalArcheology.org (Feb 12th, 2015). Accessed, May 26th, 2016. Available at: http://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/da...
8] Quoted in Strobel, The Case for Jesus, 172.
9] Richard Gordon, Image and Value in the Greco-Roman World (Aldershot: Variorum, 1996), 96.
10] Godfrey Higgins, Anacalypsis: An Attempt to Draw Aside the Veil of the Saitic Isis; or, an Inquiry into the Origin of Languages, Nations and Religions, vol. 1, (London: Longman, 1836), 1836, 781.
11] “Salon’s Ridiculously Stupid Historical Jesus Article,” Remythologized, (March 2, 2015), http://benstanhope.blogspot.com/2015/....
12] Günter Wagner, Pauline Baptism and the Pagan Mysteries (Edinburgh: Oliver and Boyd, 1967), 260ff. I should add that Jaclyn is at least correct that Mithraists had communal meals. Most religions do.
13] Benjamin Walker, The Hindu World: An Encyclopedic Survey of Hinduism, vol. 1 (New York: Praeger, 1983), 240-1. Cited by Michael Licona, “A Refutation of Acharya S’s book, The Christ Conspiracy,” (TruthQuest Publishers, 2001). Available at: http://www.risenjesus.com/a-refutatio....
14] Thompson relates this in his critique of the Zeitgeist film “Zeitgeist Debunked Part 3,” (Uploaded 2008), https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vh8cm....
15] Personal correspondence reported by Michael Licona, “A Refutation of Acharya S’s book, The Christ Conspiracy,” (TruthQuest Publishers, 2001). Available at: http://www.risenjesus.com/a-refutatio....
16] Link from Heiser’s website opens lecture PowerPoint: http://drmsh.com/wp-content/uploads/2.... Cf. Slide 19.
17] Walter Burkert, Ancient Mystery Cults, (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1987),101. The Burkert quote is referring to the water receptacles in temples of Isis.
18] Carrier, in a Tapee3i interview which has been preserved here: http://godsnotwheregodsnot.blogspot.c....
19] Quoted by Daniel Moynihan, “’Zeigeist’ Online Movie: Part One Refuted,” (Preventing Truth Decay, 2007). http://www.preventingtruthdecay.org/c....

Sunday, January 1, 2017

The Golden Sayings of Epictetus: A New Illustrated Translation

I recently published a new edition of The Golden Sayings of the Stoic philosopher Epictetus. It's by far the best edition of the Golden Sayings in existence. (Hey, the only competition is over a century old!)

Epictetus is likely the most blunt of the Roman Stoics, and The Golden Sayings have had a major impact on my life. For a long time I wanted to be able to share the book with others. I looked around everywhere for a good edition I could give to friends, but there was a huge problem: Virtually all the editions of the text being circulated right now are so old they are major pain to read due to the archaisms. Also, I couldn’t find a single existing version of the book which includes the contextual footnotes which are necessary to understand much of the text.

Thanks to thinkers like Tim Ferris and Ryan Holiday, the internet has seen a revival of Stoicism, and especially Epictetus, so this new edition is sorely needed and ideal for someone wishing to engage with Epictetus for the first time. It includes:

  •          12 of my ink illustrations
  •          A fresh translation designed for accessibility
  •          An introductory essay on Stoicism and Epictetus
  •          Explanatory footnotes interfacing with leading Epictetus scholars
  •         18 selected fragments attributed to Epictetus


The book can be found here on Amazon.
















Some Sample Illustrations: