The Cardiff Giant Hoax

Many of you have no doubt heard of the Cardiff giant — supposedly a genuine fossilized human giant discovered in 1869. Despite the conclusive evidence for a hoax, one can still find pictures of the giant on obscure websites where it is assumed tobe evidence for biblical giants. There’s a new book out on the hoax (2010) that looks like a definitive work. It’s entitled, “A Colossal Hoax: The Giant from Cardiff that Fooled America.” You can check out the book’s website here. It just went on my wish list.

Classes in the Book of Enoch

1 Enoch to be more precise. I thought I’d mention this since my MEMRA course sequence in 1 Enoch begins March 14. There are three six-week modules scheduled.  March 14 inaugurates Module 1. I’m hoping we get through chapters 1-36 in Module 1, but that may be optimistic.  At any rate, I also bring it up because there are already ten signed up, and I don’t like to have classes of more than 20.  Here is the link to enroll (scroll toward the bottom and look for the PayPal registration link; cost is $50).  Registration ends on March 6.

I should also note that this is an academic course, not paleobabble.  No Elizabeth Claire Prophet on Enoch nonsense.

Atlantis: The Myth That Keeps on Giving

Ever wondered how a few lines of Plato’s Timaeus that mention Atlantis somehow morphed into a myth so bloated that you can fill a library wing with tomes by “authorities” and “researchers” describing the science, technology, religion, and enlightened culture of a place that may well never have existed?  Yeah, me too. For the record, here’s what Plato actually said — the passing comments upon which a paper and ink mountain has been erected:

For it is related in our records how once upon a time your State stayed the course of a mighty host, which, starting from a distant point in the Atlantic ocean, was insolently advancing to attack the whole of Europe, and Asia to boot. For the ocean there was at that time navigable; for in front of the mouth which you Greeks call, as you say, ‘the pillars of Heracles,’ there lay an island which was larger than Libya and Asia together; and it was possible for the travelers of that time to cross from it to the other islands, and from the islands to the whole of the continent over against them which encompasses that veritable ocean. For all that we have here, lying within the mouth of which we speak, is evidently a haven having a narrow entrance; but that yonder is a real ocean, and the land surrounding it may most rightly be called, in the fullest and truest sense, a continent. Now in this island of Atlantis there existed a confederation of kings, of great and marvelous power, which held sway over all the island, and over many other islands also and parts of the continent (Timaeus 24e–25a, R. G. Bury translation (Loeb Classical Library).

The good news is that we now have a true work of scholarship (don’t be misled by the book’s cover) that helps us understand how Plato’s trickle became the gusher of crapulence we now know as “the great Atlantean civilization.”  I speak of Jocelyn Godwin’s recent Atlantis and the Cycles of Time: Prophecies, Traditions, and Occult Revelations.

For those unfamiliar with Godwin, he is a legitimate scholar of esoteric thought. Don’t be misled by the book’s cover. Don’t be misled by the fact that it’s published by Inner Traditions. Anything by Godwin is worth reading. Be warned that this book won’t be light reading. I’ve read Godwin’s earlier work, Arktos: The Polar Myth in Science, Symbolism, and Nazi Survival. That book has perhaps the worst cover art in publishing history, but it’s a scholarly feast. I expect the same for this book as well.

You can read a review of Atlantis and the Cycles of time over on the Magonia site. I’ll be ordering my copy right away.

Islamic Temple Mount Conspiracy?

Read about it here (the details of secret, off-limits digging are real; the motivation or object is the question). My guess is “no.”  It wouldn’t matter with respect to attempts to erase the Jewish altar remnants if Leen Ritmeyer is right (see the link at the bottom of the linked post) — and especially if Ernest Martin was right, that the temple mount isn’t the correct location at all.(See here as well).

Almost no one thinks Martin was right about the alternative location for the temple. I think his view deserves a serious hearing. (James Tabor agrees — hey, we actually do agree on some things!) The traditional, accepted view, really cannot account for two things: Josephus’ record of a long colonnade connecting the Fortress Antonia to the temple site (“he’s just wrong”) and the need for living (i.e., running) water in the temple (see here and here). Leen Ritmeyer has weighed in on Martin’s work — you can read that here (contains rebuttal by Martin).

On the Presumed Corruption of the Greek New Testament

Many of you know that Bart Ehrman has made something of a small fortune on arguing that early scribes “corrupted” the transmission of the Greek New Testament by making “orthodox corrections” [read: changes that reflected orthodox predilections about Jesus] during the process. Since Ehrman seems unable to avoid a television camera, his views have made their way into the popular culture, with the result that non-specialists assume all his claims are right and that his arguments cannot be overturned. Neither is the case. I’ve posted some critiques of Ehrman before (here and over on the Naked Bible), so news of this new book, edited by New Testament textual critic Dan Wallace, is germane for those interested: Revisiting the Corruption of the New Testament.  The link leads to the ETC blog, which has a link to purchase it. All that said, the essays are technical, and so those new to NT textual criticism might be better off beginning with an introduction to the discipline, such as one of these:

New Testament Textual Criticism: A Concise Guide

Introduction to New Testament Textual Criticism