On Vacation

Just a note – I’m on vacation with limited online access.  I’m sure I’ll fall behind on posts and comments.  Back July 2.

Gnostic Archons = Aliens?

Ah, our first foray into the weird, wonderful world of John Lamb Lash. For those of you unfamiliar with Lash, he is a modern Gnostic. No, I’m not going to pick on Gnosticism. I am going to pick on Lash’s Gnostic nonsense at a specific point.
In his quest to argue the superiority of Gnosticism as a worldview, Lash has written that the Gnostic texts from Nag Hammadi (alone, since they are so wonderful) correctly tell us the story of an ancient alien intrusion into earth’s history. They do nothing of the sort. Now, don’t get me wrong. I wouldn’t deny that there are striking similarities between Gnostic cosmology and teachings and the messages that you’d read about (ad nauseum) from people who believe they have been contacted by aliens.  That’s true–but not for the reason Lash argues.  Lash wants you to believe that the similarities are due to the faithful recording in the Gnostic texts of real aliens who came to earth and kickstarted human civilization (and helped create humanity to boot). I’d say the opposite:  that the similarities are what they are because the ideas and worldview spoonfed to contactees and abductees is nothing more than Gnosticism rehashed for a 20th-21st century technological audience (with a dash of theosophy and a few other occult spices).  That’s the kind of thing I’m discussing on another blog, so I won’t park on that here.  On PaleoBabble, I have another issue in view.
Lash makes the following claim in his online article, “Alien Instrusion”:
Physical descriptions of Archons occur in several Gnostic codices. Two types are clearly identified: a neonate or embryonic type, and a draconic or reptilian type. Obviously, these descriptions fit the Greys and Reptilians of contemporary reports to a T. Or I should say, to an ET.

Delving into the Gnostic materials, it is quite a shock to discover that ancient seers detected and investigated the problem of alien intrusion during the first century CE, and certainly well before. (The Mysteries date from many centuries before the Christian Era.) What is amazing about the Gnostic theory of the Archons is not only the cosmological background (explaining the origin of these entities and the reason for their enmeshment with humanity), but the specificity of information on the alien m.o., describing how they operate and what they want from us. For one thing, Gnostics taught that these entities envy us and feed on our fear. Above all, they attempt to keep us from claiming and evolving our “inner light,” the gift of divine intelligence within. While I would not claim that Gnostic teachings on the Archons, or what remains of such teachings, have all the answers to the ET/UFO enigma, one thing is clear: they present a coherent and comprehensive analysis of alien intrusion, as well as specific practices for resisting it. They are far more complete and sophisticated than any theory in discussion today.
How can we test this claim? Easy–in future posts I’ll revisit my electronic corpus of the Nag Hammadi texts and search for such descriptions.  You don’t have to take Lash’s word for it (or mine)–I’ll show you.  Stay tuned.

Exposing the Work of Zecharia Sitchin, Part 2: Does the Bible Have the Gods Creating Humankind?

This is a Sitchin signature teaching. In an effort to marry his notion that the Anunnaki (a group of gods in the Sumero-Mesopotamian pantheon) created humankind to the biblical story, Sitchin teaches that the Bible itself has plural gods creating humankind in Genesis. This is just paleo-babble.

Genesis 1:26 is of course offered as proof of this idea, but this is not what the passage teaches. Let’s take a look at the passage in context (Gen 1:26-28), noting the underlining:

26 Then God said, “Let us make humankind as our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” 27 So God created man as his own image, as the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

If you are familiar with my work on the divine council, you know that God is not speaking to the other members of the Trinity, but rather to the members of his council. Among Old Testament scholars, this isn’t anything new. In “academese” the wording of Genesis 1:26 is called the “plural of exhortation”-a fancy way of saying one person is announcing something to a group. God comes to the divine council with an exciting announcement: “let’s create humankind!” It would be like me going into a room of friends and saying, “Hey, let’s go get some pizza” (which I have been known to do with some regularity).

The point is that the speaker is ONE entity. But do the other guys in the audience (the heavenly host) participate in the creating? This is what Sitchin teaches. Sadly for him, the Hebrew text says the opposite. How do we know that? At the risk of dredging up painful memories of your high school English classes, the answer is “grammar says so.”

If you take a close look at verse 27, it’s obvious as to who is doing the creating: “So God created man as his own image, as the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” One grammatical clue is obvious, even in English. If more than one god was participating in the creation of humanity, the text would read “they created.” What isn’t so obvious to those who can’t read Hebrew is that the verbs of creation in this passage (and in ALL passages where the God of Israel creates anything) are SINGULAR. Don’t believe me? Get out your popcorn and turn up your speakers! Here’s a video of me doing a search for where elohim is the subject of a verb of creation. I go through all the results and each time the God of Israel is the elohim referred to, the verbs are SINGULAR. Video just doesn’t get more compelling than this. It’s just under 21 MB ; 14:46.

Was Cain Fathered by the Devil? No, Wait — Extraterrestrials

I’ve gotten more emails on this topic than I can shake a stick at, so I’ve decided to blog it and then just direct people to this post in the future. I don’t know who started this on the internet-probably one of those “I found secret knowledge about the Bible” people who start followings in cyberspace. At any rate, he wasn’t anyone who knew anything about the Bible, the Dead Sea scrolls, or the other material I’ll touch on.

Cain Fathered by Satan or a Demon?

Though there are by no various expressions of it online, the nonsense goes something like this.

What really happened in Eden (Genesis 3) was that Eve was seduced by the serpent (whose name was Sammael), they had sex, and produced Cain (Genesis 4). This is why Cain was “marked” by God later on-God hated him since the serpent was his father. The Bible covers all this up since its editors removed it. Thankfully, the Dead Sea Scrolls preserve it. That’s just one reason the scrolls were kept from the public for so long.


Here’s the truth about this particular web gem. I’ll unpack each point briefly.

1. Genesis 4:1 was NOT found among the textual remains of the Hebrew Bible among the Dead Sea Scrolls. It is important to realize that much of the biblical material from Qumran is partial and fragmentary. Only the book of Isaiah can be said to be virtually complete (99% of it was found at Qumran). There are portions and scraps of every other OT book except Esther. Genesis 4:1, the account of Can’s birth, is not in the Dead Sea Scroll material. The closest you get is Genesis 4:2-11, which is 4QGenb or 4Q2 (read, Qumran, Cave 4, Genesis “b” – that was the name given to the fragment – also called Qumran, Cave 4, no. 2 by other researchers). This fragment was published in volume 12 (pp. 36-37) of the Discoveries in the Judaean Desert (DJD) series (Oxford University Press – the official publisher of scrolls material). The fragment is IDENTICAL to the Masoretic text of the Hebrew Bible used today. Therefore, the Dead Sea scrolls don’t preserve this weird view of Cain’s lineage. Readers can check on what I’m saying through two relatively inexpensive sources:

2. Since we already know the name doesn’t occur in the biblical scrolls (the point above), I thought I’d look for it among the other scrolls material – sometimes the other material has commentaries on the biblical material. A computer search for “Sammael” (or the alternate spelling Samael) yields ZERO occurrences in the non-biblical texts from the Dead Sea Scrolls. This is more proof that this “account” is not only absent in the biblical Dead Sea Scrolls; it isn’t present in the scrolls that covered other subjects besides copying and commenting on the Hebrew Bible. You can watch a video of me doing this search so you know I’m not making it up. (Turn your speakers up and use high speed – it’s 29 MB).

3. I knew that I wouldn’t find the name Sammael or Samael in any of the scrolls. The name does occur among the Pseudepigrapha. The video I made above includes this search and its results. Sorry, no sex between the serpent / Sammael and Eve. Boring, I know. Outside the name Sammael/Samael, n some pseudepigraphic material (4 Maccabees 18:8) the serpent gets blamed for all sexual sin, but that’s a lot different than fathering Cain.

4. Some rabbinic material does have the devil fathering Cain. Targum Pseudo-Jonathan has this idea. Here’s a brief video of me looking this up an explaining the reading [You can check my translation by consulting the English translation of Targum Pseudo-Joanathan at this link. This translation, though, does NOT have the variant that includes Samael]. The other Targums do not have this reading. Targum Pseudo-Jonathan is dated by Aramaists at roughly the sixth century A.D., or between 1500-2000 years AFTER Genesis was written (the date range depends on when one thinks Genesis was written). The Talmud relates a story that Yonatan ben Uziel, a student of Hillel (roughly contemporary with Jesus), fashioned an Aramaic translation of the Prophets. That translation is considered by some to be Targum Pseudo-Jonathan. However, the story makes no mention of any translation by him of the Torah, and so it cannot be argued that Targum Pseudo-Jonathan of Genesis 4:1 is as old as Jesus’ day. The sixth century A.D. is all the evidence allows. Targums can be very elastic translations, adding material quite freely with no Hebrew manuscript evidence at all. Everyone who does Aramaic knows this about the Targums-they can play pretty fast and loose with the text of the Bible; they INSERT all kinds of things into the translation, without regard to any prior textual manuscript history for support. IN plain language, the Targums often add made up material to the biblical text. Having Samael in Genesis 4:1 is a classic example – it was added at least 1500 years after the fact, and no other prior ancient Jewish material supports it.

Cain Fathered by Extraterrestrials?

Laurence Gardner, that pseudo-ancient text researcher of Jesus bloodline nonsense fame, wants Eve and Yahweh to be the ones having sex-or, “more realistically” in his mind, to have the extraterrestrial god known as Yahweh (who is really Sumerian Enki) genetically implant his DNA in her. In an online lecture on this topic Gardner (largely parroting Zecharia Sitchin) says:

Conventional teaching generally cites Cain as being the first son of Adam and Eve – but he was not; even the book of Genesis tells us that he was not. In fact, it confirms how Eve told Adam that Cain’s father was the Lord, who was of course Enki the Archetype. Even outside the Bible, the writings of the Hebrew Talmud and Midrash make it quite plain that Cain was not the son of Adam . . . Around 6000 years ago, Adam and Eve . . . were purpose-bred for kingship by Enki and his sister-wife Ninkhursag. This took place at a ‘creation chamber’ which the Sumerian annals refer to as the House of Shimta (Shi-im-tA meaning ‘breath – wind – life‘ ). Adam and Eve were certainly not the first people on Earth, but they were the first of the alchemically devised kingly succession. Nin-khursag was called the Lady of the Embryo or the Lady of Life, and she was the surrogate mother for Adam and Eve, who were created from human ova fertilized by the Lord Enki. 1

In regard to how the book of Genesis tells us Cain was not the son of Adam and Eve, Gardner has this quotation in his book about the birth of Cain. Let me go on record as saying this is one of my favorite Gardner quotations, only because it’s a crystal clear example of how Gardner DELIBERATELY misleads his readers, likely because he hates Christianity so much:

“In the opening verse of Genesis 4, it is written that Hawah [Eve] said, I have gotten a man from the Lord’. Other variations are I have got me a man with the Lord’ and I have acquired a man from the Lord’.”2

Gardner’s quotation creates the distinct impression for his readers that Genesis 4:1 contains ONLY this line about Eve saying she “got a man from/with the Lord.” It’s an incomplete citation, though-and you’ll see right away why Gardner wouldn’t give you the rest of the verse in his book. Here’s the whole verse in Hebrew and English (I have given the English and the Hebrew matching colors so you can follow the translation):

It’s easy to see here how Gardner only gave his readers the second half of the verse – omitting the part that explicitly says that ADAM “knew” Eve (a common sexual euphemism in the Bible) and so fathered Cain. How convenient. How self-serving. How dishonest.

Again, it’s just PaleoBabble.

  1. http://www.bibliotecapleyades.net/biblianazar/esp_biblianazar_21.htm
  2. Laurence Gardner, Genesis of the Grail Kings, 128

Exposing the Work of Zecharia Sitchin, Part 1: ELOHIM in the Hebrew Bible

Prior to this blog, I created a website devoted to exposing the flawed teachings and research of Zecharia Sitchin. Next to Erik von Däniken, Sitchin is easily the most well-known articulator of the ancient astronaut theory–the idea that the gods of ancient texts and religions were extraterrestrials, and those ETs came to earth long ago and either created humankind via genetic experiments with hominids (Sitchin’s view), or at least kick-started human civilization. Sitchin is different from von Däniken in one important respect: he claims to be a scholar of ancient languages, and his followers cast him as such. He isn’t a scholar of ancient languages, and has no credentials to demonstrate that he is. I’m someone who can hold him accountable, since I’ve got the degrees and coursework to show I know what I’m talking about. I don’t bother with von Däniken since he doesn’t pretend to be a scholar in my field.

My website is still online, but it’s outdated and pretty ugly (I’ve learned a few things about website design since 2001–at least enough to do a less ugly job). I’ll be updating my Sitchin critiques on PaleoBabble, and expanding them as well. My goal is to give out as much primary data as I can to readers. This is the first such effort. I want readers to be able to check the data, and I’ll do all I can to put it in YOUR hands. I want people to know I’m not making it up. Anyone who has read Sitchin knows he doesn’t do this–you have to depend on his (odd, to say the least) translations of texts, as well as his claims that certain readings in texts exist. Finding the source of his quotations is unbelievably frustrating most of the time.

With that intro, let’s get started.

One of my earliest PDF files regarding Sitchin’s work dealt with the word elohim in the Hebrew Bible. Sitchin and his followers claim that the word elohim (commonly translated “God”) is plural, and so it must be translated “gods” where it occurs. These gods are of course the aliens (the Anunnaki in Sitchin’s work), and so it is argued that the Bible actually says the extraterrestrial gods created humankind.

Here’s the truth. The word elohim is morphologically plural. Morphology refers to the “shape” or construction of a word – its form. The question, though, is that while elohim is plural in form, is it plural in meaning ? By itself, elohim can be either singular or plural in meaning. How can you tell? Two ways:

A. Grammar – Words have no meaning apart from sentences, and word relationships in sentences are determined by grammar. The grammar of Hebrew (like English) will tell you if elohim is singular or plural. Let me illustrate with English:

In English we have words that can be singular or plural: “deer”, “sheep”, “fish”. In these examples, you need other words to help you tell if one or more than one of these animals is meant. Sometimes these other words are verbs that help you tell. Compare the two examples::

1) “The sheep is lost” – the word “is” is a singular verb (It goes with a singular subject; one wouldn’t say, for example, “I are lost” – you would use a verb that goes with the singular subject (“I am lost”).

2) “The sheep are lost” – the word “are” is a plural verb (again, another word next to our noun “sheep” tells us in this case that plural sheep are meant.

All of this is just basic grammar – and every language has grammar. Biblical Hebrew has its own ways of telling us if elohim means one God or plural gods. And in EVERY passage in the Hebrew Bible where elohim creates humankind (or anything else), elohim is singular in meaning because all the verbs that go with it grammatically are singular. Sitchin is flat out, dead wrong. His view is DOA.

My original PDF is here if you want to read it. It was pretty basic, with an example or two. I even made a PDF that showed my view worked the same way in AKKADIAN, a language in which Sitchin is supposedly proficient. He isn’t. Here’s that file. On to the second way to tell singular vs. plural…

B. Context – I could call this “logic” as well, but we’ll go with context. Sometimes, the grammar doesn’t help. Sure, if elohim is the subject of a sentence and the verb it goes with is singular, then grammar tells you right away you have ONE deity. But what if elohim is another part of speech, like the direct object? Verbs won’t help at all then. Here’s where context becomes the determiner. Appealing to context may sound subjective, but it really isn’t; it’s usually VERY clear.

For example, consider the following sentence: “The Israelites sang songs of joy to Yahweh, praising elohim for delivering them through the Red Sea.” Is elohim singular or plural? It’s the direct object here, so we can’t depend on subject-verb agreement (grammar) to help us. But the context tells us that the songs of praise were to Yahweh–and Yahweh is not a plural! Yahweh was Israel’s God, and so the following elohim is obviously singular in context.

But enough of my examples. I don’t want to just tell you about this, since you have to take my word for it to some extent if you don’t know Hebrew, or if you have no experience with a foreign language. Instead, I want to SHOW you Sitchin’s view is bogus and give you the data to check up on me (and him!) at your leisure. I’m not afraid of giving you the data with the kind of tools real scholars use since the data are on my side and are a firm rebuttal to Sitchin’s view. To that end, I’ve made a few videos and have posted a few files for you.

First, I’ve made a video of me searching the Hebrew Bible with the LOGOS Bible software for (1) all occurrences of elohim in the Hebrew Bible; (2) all the places where elohim is demonstrated as singular through the grammar of subject-verb agreement; and (3) all the places where elohim could legitimately be translated as a plural because of the verb. The video is large (18.2 MB; 11:27 time), so you need high speed–and turn up your speakers.

Second, on the same video above I also search for all the places in the Hebrew Bible where the word elohim is identified as Yahweh–the singular God of Israel–showing that elohim is singular for context reasons. You can download the PDF file of these results as well – over 1,400 occurrences of Yahweh being match with elohim! It’s 2.7 MB and 201 pages.

One last thing. Followers of Sitchin are bound to come across this post. If you’re one of those, feel free to register and comment. Don’t send me emails, since I won’t read them. Use the comment space. I want the world to see your response. However, if you can’t express yourself without foul language, I won’t approve it. After years of dealing with fundamentalist Sitchinites, I know the kind of screed they typically offer in their rage. It’ll be ignored, since it’s worthless. But if you can disagree without becoming hysterical, I’d love to post your response. It’s often a lot of fun. But be warned, I’ll demand data and coherence from you, and if you can’t supply it in exchanges, you’ll look very stupid. And I won’t stop you.

Tom Bartlett Responds to National Geographic’s Defense of its Gospel of Judas

Tom Bartlett, the reporter who wrote the article about the sloppiness of National Geographic’s Gospel of Judas project, was kind enough to email his response to NG’s “rebuttal” of his article.  Here is his reply (NG’s rebuttal comments are marked by *):

The press release that National Geographic issued in response to my article “The Betrayal of Judas” is filled with errors and nonsense. Below are a few of the more egregious inaccuracies:

*  “Contrary to the article’s assertion, the translation took years (not months) to complete.”

Here’s what the article actually says:

“It all happened in record time. In the cases of other newly discovered ancient texts, the process of translation and interpretation has dragged on for years. But it was only about eight months from the time Marvin Meyer was brought on that the gospel was announced to the public.”

Meyer confirmed this timeline to me in an e-mail. Meyer was the primary English translator and it was his translation that other scholars, like Bart Ehrman, used as the basis for their own critical essays. This part of the project did not take years; it took months.

* “This was an enormously complex project, but hardly a ‘secret’ in biblical circles.”

My article does not say that the existence of the Gospel of Judas was a secret in biblical circles. I make it clear that other scholars knew of its existence for decades. The article does say that other scholars complained about the “secrecy” of the project, i.e., that the material wasn’t shared with scholars outside of the National Geographic team. There is a difference.

* “Virtually all issues your article raises about translation choices are addressed in extensive footnotes in both the popular and critical editions of the gospel. Unfortunately, Thomas Bartlett chose to ignore that fact …”

I did not ignore that fact. I mention both the second edition and the critical edition of the Judas book and note that some errors have since been corrected and that alternate readings are now included. I even quote from those footnotes. (For the record, the best-selling first edition of the book and the television documentary watched by millions do not include these caveats.)

* “What Bartlett doesn’t tell the reader is that DeConick’s criticisms, which appeared in an op-ed piece in the New York Times in December 2007, were timed to coincide with the release of her own book about the Gospel of Judas.”

Wrong.  Her book came out two months before the NY Times op-ed. Regardless, I mention both her book and the op-ed in my article and I include the publication dates for both.

I understand that National Geographic must be reeling from criticism of its Judas project by biblical scholars. But your sloppy, bewildering response to my article doesn’t help your case.

Was Jesus Married According to the Gnostic Texts from Nag Hammadi? (Videos 2, 3, and 4)

The format for these videos is the same as the first one, where I searched the Nag Hammadi Gnostic gospels for any occurrence of the word “marry” (including married, marries, marrying, etc.) connected to Jesus. In these videos I search for other terms:

  • Wife” and its other forms – are there any instances where the search term is connected to a marriage of Jesus? (12 MB)
  • Husband” – ditto (12 MB)
  • Bride” – ditto (11 MB)