Pterosaurs in the Bible

Yes, you read that correctly.

Jason Colavito just posted about this piece of wacky Bible interpretation. It’s a good post, made entertaining by the fact that the notion of pterosaurs in the Bible comes to us from Ken Ham’s creation ministry. It’s biblical paleobabble like this that discredits the serious scientists who believe in creation from contributing to the discussion. They don’t want to be put in the same category as Ken Ham. Who can blame them?

At any rate, if you read Jason’s piece, which links to Ben Stanhope’s blog where Ben posted about a trip to Ken Ham’s creation museum, you’ll discover that some of the wackiness relates to the “flying serpents” mentioned a couple times in the Old Testament. Scholars have known for some time, based on word study (especially the noun seraph) and comparison of the biblical material with Egyptian material, that there are likely two explanations for the language: (1) the “fiery seraph” likely speaks to the spitting cobra (“fiery” = the burning sensation that comes when you’re unlucky enough to get sprayed or bitten); and (2) when cobras are ready to strike the flanges of skin on either side of their head spreads out, giving the impression of “wings” – hence “flying seraph”. Egyptian has the same word (seraf) for this type of serpent, which was also conceived of as a cosmic throne guardian (recall the cobra motif in Egyptian iconography).

A good scholarly article on the above (if you have access to scholarly journals via a library membership to the ATLA or JSTOR databases) is:

Philippe Provençal, “Regarding the Noun SERAPH in the Hebrew Bible,” Journal for the Study of the Old Testament 29:3 (2005): 371-379.

Note that “SERAPH” in the article title is actually in Hebrew characters, so you probably won’t be able to use it as a keyword search term. I just used English characters here.

Sorry Ken. No pterosaurs in the Bible.

But let’s hope Project Pterosaur has better luck!


New Scholarly E-Book Launch for Greek and Latin Literature

My employer, Logos Bible Software, announced a new brand today — Noet, the beginning of our effort to do for classical Greek and Latin literature what we did for biblical studies. You can read our CEO’s blog post about the launch to get introduced to what Noet’s all about. Here are some excerpts:

Noet (rhymes with “poet”) is the Logos platform repurposed for scholarly ebooks outside biblical studies: Greek and Latin classics, philosophy, literature, Shakespeare, Judaica, etc. We will reuse the key Logos platform components with Noet branding, from the online bookstore to desktop software to web viewers to mobile apps on iOS and Android.

But more excitingly, we’ll customize Logos 5’s tools to support the special needs of disciplines beyond biblical and theological studies: we’ll support powerful searching of philosophical themes, interlinear editions of classical texts, word-for-word comparisons of different editions of Shakespeare, and even specialized timelines and infographics.

Logos has offered a wide range of content for many years, and there’s a lot of content in other fields that our users find useful: Greek and Latin classical literature is important to serious biblical study and lexicography; philosophy is of interest to theologians and seminary students. We want to develop the tools that will support students of the Bible in these adjacent disciplines.

Learn more at

Did Muslims Discover America in 999 AD?

Short answer: No.

Longer answer: Jason Colavito’s post: Did Ibn Farrukh Discover America in 999 CE?  (CE is the “non-Christian” abbreviation commonly used in academic convention in place of “A.D.”).

As usual, Jason has done a great job here. I recommend the post to readers since, as Jason reports, this nonsense is all over the internet on blogs and websites focused on Muslim apologetics and alternative history.

The Geo-Centric Universe: Yep, There are Still People Who Believe It

The Exposing Pseudoastronomy podcast devoted a recent episode to this long held myth. It’s a classic mis-reading of the Bible, which never actually makes the claim, though church authorities of all stripes assumed it (assisted by “creatively” reading into the text) throughout history. I recommend it to PaleoBabble readers since you don’t hear too much about it these days (for what I thought were obvious reasons). There are some good links to resources about the model and its critique.

Ancient Astronauts, Esotericism, and Utopian Politics

Jason Colavito has a short post on the relationship of these three areas of study that’s a good interest-piquing piece if such connections are new to you. I can recommend it since it links ancient astronaut myths to utopian thinking on both sides of the political spectrum.

Last January one of my lectures at Future Congress was about alien mythology and utopianism. In simplest terms, the alien myth is a useful substitute for both religious and political rationalizations of fascism. Fascism, correctly understood, is about coercion, control over people’s lives. That wish is in no way isolated to the political right. The political left is in love with it as well, and it isn’t hard to demonstrate that, especially in academic source material.

Robert Ripley: A More Honest Showman Than Steven Greer

I just blogged this over at UFO Religions so I thought I’d reproduce this here.


In the latest twist to the Steven Greer ET disclosure shell game (hat tip to BK), Greg Newkirk of the Who Forted? blog and Lee Spiegel of the Huffington Post (photo credit for the image below) have produced evidence that Robert Ripley of Ripley’s Believe it Or Not fame had found a 6.5-inch “alien” he called “Atta-boy” (Ripley’s specimen was from Peru, not Atacama, Chile, the region from which Greer’s “alien” hails, so the phonetic similarity seems coincidental).


Ripley of course believe the specimen to be a mummified human. That’s still where my money is, since the 91% of the DNA that is identifiable to this point is human (and again, DNA testing of ancient specimens like this rarely produce completely identifiable genomes — that’s why there’s more than one way to DNA test such things).

The mummification thing keeps coming up. Readers know this is what I suggested at the beginning. I didn’t do that because I’m clairvoyant. Rather, I read things like scholarly journal articles on mummification like this one (the Atacama region is referenced on pp. 258 and 260). The abstract states in part:

This essay explores the idea that arsenic poisoning was the impetus for the origin of the oldest mummification practice in the world. The Chinchorro people artificially mummified fetuses and infants starting 7000 years ago, but we do not know why.

It stands to reason that mummification might have something to do with this (these) specimen(s) and thus account for anomalies (were the process known).

Incidentally, Atacama is also a region of Chile known for “cranial modification” — just like certain Peruvian regions. Cranial modification refers to deliberately shaping of the *human* head to a conical form (sorry, folks, those pictures you see on the internet are neither mysteries nor nephilim skulls). I can’t provide links to full articles on that due to copyright laws, but here you go:

Christina Torres-Rouff, “Cranial Vault Modification and Ethnicity in Middle Horizon San Pedro de Atacama, Chile,” Current Anthropology 43:1 (Feb 2002).

Christina Torres-Rouff, “The Influence of Tiwanaku on Life in the Chilean Atacama: Mortuary and Bodily Perspectives,” American Anthropologist 110:3 (Sept 2008): 325-337.




Extraterrestrial Hippies? New Research on Egyptian Technology Tries to Get Noticed Online

A few days Biblical Archaeology Review (BAR) posted a link online to an article entitled, “Extraterrestrial Elements in Egyptian Equipment.” Ancient astronaut believers (and Giorgio Tsoukalos’ hairdresser) no doubt saw the title and got pretty excited about the possibilities.

Sounds startling, doesn’t it? The word “elements” conjures up mental imagery about physics, metallurgy, and “space age” technological knowledge on the part of the Egyptians. It’s nice titling if you want to generate hits online. At least someone working at BAR isn’t a crusty field archaeologist in their seventies. But when you actually read the article you’ll find out it’s about iron beads.

You read that correctly. Beads.

The focus of the essay is about the extraterrestrial source of the iron in certain Egyptian beads. No, the iron didn’t come from a UFO crash, or alien gods trading advanced material in exchange for . . . something. Rather, the iron came from meteorites.

Rocks that the Egyptians saw fall from space, not intelligent visitors from space. But still interesting.