ABOUT

My name is Mike Heiser, and I’m a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania (M.A., Ancient History) and the University of Wisconsin- Madison (M.A., Ph.D., Hebrew Bible and Semitic Studies). I taught on the college level for twelve years before accepting my present position working for Logos Bible Software, a company that produces ancient text databases and other digital resources for study of the ancient world and biblical studies.

While I’m not anti-creedal, I am opposed to treating creeds as though they are the final word on articulating biblical theology. Creeds are selective, historically-conditioned, limited by their context and the resources available to their formulators, and often agenda-driven. I’m more concerned with what the text says and what it can sustain in the way of interpretation than I am with creeds, especially if they are recent (read: English-Bible based and flavored with the hermeneutics of the 16-17th century or 20th century evangelicalism). Every post-first century religious context is alien to the Bible, and therefore not the context of the Bible. The context of the Bible is the worldview of the biblical writers who produced it, not contexts that came later. I’ll take my Bible unfiltered by foreign contexts, thank you. I also have what I think is a healthy disdain for the trendiness of academia and its own brand of self-assured dogmatics. I’d be a happier guy if every graduate student in biblical studies and theology was forced to take courses in logic and critical thinking. That’ll happen right after the Cubs win the World Series again.

A Brief Sketch of Beliefs

This really will be brief. Yes, I’m leaving gaps even in what’s here. As an academic I’m well aware of where other academics would want XYZ question addressed. But this is my blog and no one else’s, so deal with the brevity and its resulting incompleteness. If you want a bibliography on these points, I could give you one, but that would be sad.

Broadly speaking, my own beliefs flow from some pretty simple presuppositions, all of which have stood the test of time intellectually.

For example, I’m a theist – It’s more coherent than atheism. That is, the idea that there is a supreme intelligent being has more explanatory power for things we know and experience than the absence of that being.

As a theist, it makes more sense to me to think that if a God exists, that God would actually be capable of doing things, and interested in doing things (as opposed to merely existing and doing nothing). I’m not a deity and I’m not that mindless and uninteresting. I have to think God has intelligence and the desire to use that intelligence.

Continuing, I think it’s more reasonable to believe that things that exist had a cause as opposed to having no cause. When it comes to the material creation, it either (a) created itself, (b) was always there, or (c) was created by an external force. Options A and B are ruled out by the Big Bang (cosmological science) and by logic. They are also ruled out by revelation like the Bible, but if you think you need the Bible to hold this position, you’re sadly uninformed.1  Lots of intelligent people who assign no importance to the Bible hold position C. And although position A has adherents (setting aside the position’s infinite regress problem that has one universe burping another one into existence, thereby explaining why our universe bears the marks of a beginning) anyone who embraces a Big Bang has to (ultimately) reject it. I was taught in high school that there was no such thing as spontaneous generation of matter within a close system. It made sense then, and it still makes sense. God seems a good candidate for the external cause to the material creation, and that is quite independent of what one thinks about Genesis.

Since I accept theism and the need for a creative event for creation, I think God could do lots of things that, to me, seem of smaller magnitude. For example, he can probably influence people to write stuff down (I can do that one) that would eventually get collected and made into a book (the Bible). He could even oversee the process and make sure they don’t screw it up, and if they did, he could bring along an editor to fix it. Again, that isn’t hard. This God could also become incarnate and decide to give himself as an atonement for human sin – basically, to offer forgiveness for the moral and spiritual failings he sees in his creatures by putting the onus on himself, not them. If I were God, I not only could do that, I’d want to, especially if there was no way my creations could do that themselves.

I am also a Christian because it’s the only religious story that makes any sense for solving the fundamental problem all religions are supposed to address: right relationship to God. All other religions require perfect performance of imperfect people to please a perfect being. That’s impossible (and really incoherent). Christianity has the perfect being becoming incarnate in imperfect flesh (i.e., it could bleed, age, and die) to communicate to imperfect people that he had come to pay the penalty his own demands had placed on them (after all, he has the right to make demands of his own creatures – you do that if you have kids, and I’m guessing you don’t think it’s unreasonable). In other words, God, through Christ, becomes the solution for a problem we cannot solve. His motive? John 3:16. The requirement to have that applied to us? Faith — Trust the solution. That’s it. No endless and futile effort to appease an angry deity. The deity solves the problem himself on your behalf. That’s pretty nice of him, especially when you’re helpless to fix the problem yourself.2

That’s good enough for this space.

To contact me (other than through a posted comment), email me at mshmichaelsheiser [at] gmail [dot] com.

  1. Philosophical materialists and atheists would opine here on how this is unscientific, somehow never bothering to explain scientifically why so many scientists would disagree.
  2. And incidentally, for those Jesus revisionists out there – “Jesus is really a pagan deity” – feel free to shoot me the pagan text that has this same gospel. One hint: there isn’t one, and your comparisons are void of the content of the gospel message – which is sort of important when you want to compare the point of the gospel story to something else.

90 Responses to “ABOUT”

  1. Mike Balfour says:

    a few days ago, I saw and read Very fast

    a section you wrote about foreknowledge
    intent was to go back and re-read slower

    you mentioned a Bible verse? (please send me just the link) or the bible verse section.

    thank you, for your help, I truly enjoy reading your posts. I had and used the Logos Catholic version for years. (currently do not have on my new computer)
    Rev. Dr. Mike Balfour

  2. Gina Royer says:

    Hello, I have been reading your articles about escatology, demons and ufo’s. I am more interested in what it is you beleive about all of this. Where can I find that information? I like to have several viewpoints to think about. I have been taught the pre-trib/milleniest point of view. Thank you for your response.
    Gina Royer
    333 Rock Creek Rd #40
    Hansen, ID 83334
    208-944-0845

    • MSH says:

      For the UFO stuff, see my UFO Religions blog. Go to http://www.drmsh.com and then look at the top of the page for the link. For eschatology, stay tuned here. I’ll be going through a lot more material and then winding up with where I’m at (right now) and why. Angels, gods. divine beings, demons, etc. are my specialty (my academic focus). YOu can start at my website on the divine council: http://www.thedivinecouncil.com.

  3. jknbt says:

    Hello Dr. Heiser–

    do you watch Sid Roth’s It’s Supernatural on christian tv? what do you think about end time miracles? Almost every episode has testimonies of miracles. here is a link:

    http://www.sidroth.org/site/PageServer

    thanks!

    Jay

    • MSH says:

      haven’t seen it; I have no problem with the idea that God can intervene in “miraculous” ways, but usually that doesn’t involve suspension of the mechanics of the universe he has made. It may be that we don’t really understand the fabric of the universe as well as we think we do (but God does, of course).

  4. Jeff Kampfl says:

    Sir,

    You might want to consider having your 2003 article “The Jesus Ossuary: A Critical Examination,” removed from the i-net. Your assessment was anything but critical. If you have posted or written an update since then I would love to read it.

    • MSH says:

      First, I don’t even know where it is; I’d have to Google it. Second, the date is 2003, so it doesn’t address any of the later Talpiot furor and the associated research (i.e., I’m not clairvoyant). I do have something else on the web about the Jesus tomb, but your tone suggests you’re just looking for something you can agree with. Third, where is it uncritical? Maybe you’re reading something into the word critical – ? Maybe you mean to say “critical” = “that which affirms what I already think.” The paper was read at a society meeting, so I think if there was something so poorly done in it that I would have heard something by now. But I could be wrong, so let me know.

  5. I Have one question at this time, is there a hell with punishment by burning for ever?

    • MSH says:

      maybe. It depends on how one takes the “everlasting” terminology. Most uses of that term in either testament does not refer to a never-ending time, but a time of great duration, beyond normal comprehension (or even something shorter). However, there are in fact clear instances where the terms *do* refer to never-ending time (and even eternality, which is not the same thing as never-ENDING). That means that there are options for hell: (1) never-ending; (2) ending after a long time (some form of annihilation).

      This latter view can be (or not) held by what are called “universal salvationists” (not the same thing as universalists). Basically, that view has everyone being saved. Many are saved outright because they believed in Christ. Others are punished after death but then allowed to repent and believe, at which they join the former group in heaven. (Sort of like a purgatory idea but without the merit-based approach of catholicism).

  6. Sam says:

    Hello Dr. Heiser,
    Do you have anything on Gen 3:22.

    Thanks for reply.
    Sam

  7. Dear Dr. Michael S. Heiser:

    Thank you for your articles, (especially on Sumerian I was reading)…

    1. As I show in my own recent work, there were two councils (divine=of gods) in the early days: the Adam-Cain-Seth-etc. line 900-year-type, and the Ptah-AmunRa-Shw-etc. 9000-year-type, (Shw was killed ca-1033-years and birth-twin-brother T’Hwti replaced him as first-son-of-Ra)… POINT BEING– Two councils shared authority, the more-senior Ogdoad and the more-junior Ennead (both were missing many members due to murders) and some seniors served in both….

    The “Two Powers in Heaven” may refer to some of both serving in the Sumerian mountain-heaven council, early-on ApSu-Kinaka (Upsukkinaku, Shekinah, Apsu’s gold/sons) but later after Shw was killed, the senior probably included only Noah Utnapishtim -whom the gods made immortal (9000-year-type)- Eloah Eloi “the only living god” (the one surviving all the murders and massacres)…

    2. Nibiru/Neberu-tim bears a linguistic similarity to Nefer-Tem (cf even as Buranun Euphrates)… Nibiru/Neberu may have a larger sense of youth-early-fresh-beauty moreso than a crossing-starting-point (though obviously similar and assumptive)…

    3. JOB 38:7: “morning stars” -probably- refers not so much to the gods (as planets going across the field: DIN.GIR), but as Job’s Feb. 26 1953 BC 5-planet conjunction.

    4. N.B. On the point of birth-order, Adam and his rib–wife Eve were born the same year (see Jub.)… Get over it…. And too, Creation, was not Adam Geb and Eve Nuit, who’d had their childhood’s-distinction as the first Earthers (after the primordial), but Marduk’s first-chop removal of Cain Osiris’ genitals to inseminate aboriginal females, creating the new mankind whose later generations of daughters ‘were beautiful’….

    5. The real whole story is very much more interesting… Even the fight between Cain and Abel, which left Abel alive (Yes Shw favored him because he’d sired him, so he gave him Cain’s mark-of-first-lineage and renamed him ‘Cain’, because he wanted to keep Abel from the death penalty, and because he owed Ra a son)… but that fight– was because of the primordial gap in the senior-sires, required Thoth to sire Awan, whence Cain wanted Awan because she was first-daughter but Abel wanted her because she was second-lineage, like Abel was second-lineage… (Shw should’ve sired a sister for Cain instead of a brother… such is the ‘pivotality’ of being ‘gods’)….

    You might find my article, interesting, but do understand that I go for the actuality of the documented histories, the protolinguistics, over the assumptive linguistics, what the gods knew, over what mankind priesthoods struggled to learn, then to deduce….

    Cordially, sincerely, yours,

    Ray.

    • MSH says:

      this has nothing to do with this blog. I don’t plan on answering any of it unless it is posted on the proper blog for this material (PaleoBabble). And even then, break it up into shorter pieces.

  8. Mike Gantt says:

    I greatly appreciate what you have written above about creeds. I think you have clearly and rightly distinguished them from the Scriptures.

  9. Benjamin Smith says:

    Hi Mike. If you really wanted to stir up some controversy, you could do a ‘Naked Bible,’ approach in response to the New Perspectivalists – who claim they’re doing just that…

    – Ben.

    • MSH says:

      a decent idea; I just haven’t had much interest in it; it hasn’t caught my imagination in any way.

      • Benjamin Smith says:

        That’s interesting. How come?

        • MSH says:

          not sure what you’re asking.

          • Benjamin Smith says:

            Oh, sorry – was just wondering why you don’t find the New Perspective interesting, especially as it potentially completely redefines the gospel, justification, etc.

            • MSH says:

              Because I don’t think it really redefines the gospel or justification; I think it redefines what Paul meant by “works of the law.” Accepting the New Perspective doesn’t add works to the gospel. It probably makes the task of “reconciling” James and Paul easier, but that wasn’t unworkable before the new perspective.

              Maybe my lack of interest here stems from my apathy toward creeds and confessions. Since I wasn’t doing soteriology by virtue of them before the new perspective, I didn’t see an applecart being upset. Others married to creeds and confession would naturally be more disturbed by it, since it asks them to stop defining justification in only forensic terms. But I’d say that’s a distinctly reformed approach, not a biblical one. And that is not to say a forensic approach to justification isn’t biblical. I think it is, but I’d also say that the doctrine of salvation and terms like justification, redemption, atonement, etc. are multi-facted and defy a single definition. Defining justification in only forensic terms is too narrow, and as long as someone isn’t saying salvation is *merited* by human effort (in whole or part), I don’t see the gospel as compromised.

              • Benjamin Smith says:

                I think you’re right. I’ve actually benefited hugely from the NP in making me see those terms in those more multi-faceted ways. I think the danger comes when NP advocates say that the ‘new’ definition of, say, justification, is the only definition and can’t have elements of the ‘old’ definition at all. So, yes, I think justification is covenant membership… but is also the declaration that an individual sinner is in the right on grace alone, as the reformers declared.

  10. david says:

    Dr. Heiser,

    I have a couple of questions. First, is the Greek word “ouros”, which I understand to mean “mountain” strictly limited to a prominence in relation to ‘level land’ about it, or can it be applied to say “continents” or “islands” rising above sea-level. Second, since, the word “continent” as used for land-masses is a fairly recent term, are there any ancient writings (Scripture, in particular, either Hebrew or Greek) that might view the continental land- masses as “mountains”, in relation to the ‘world ocean’ ?

  11. David Brown says:

    Dr Heiser,

    have you, or do you plan on providing any work regarding the passage in Matthew 11:12?

    Thanks you.

  12. Junji says:

    Hi Doc, Just found your website, I was looking for a credible source against Sitchin. I am an open minded person and do not tend to believe right away, although at first if you read Sitchin’s work it would seem plausible.

    I think I ended up here from Sitchin is wrong.

    Just wanted to know what are your religious views that is if you believe that Jesus is a god, or do you even still believe in the Creator of all.

  13. DC Treybil says:

    While browsing in a used bookstore about 30 years ago, I happened upon a Bible with a preface with something in it about Hebrew/OT poetry. Unlike “modern” poetry, which relies upon rhythm and rhyme for effect, biblical poetry relies upon the repetition of key words, phrases and ideas. So I became interested in the repetition of words in Genesis 1:! – 2:4.

    I was just dangerous enough with a computer to write a BASIC program to do that count. I recall stats something like 860 some odd words total with 160 some odd unique words (in English, using King James version). From this, you’d expect an average of 5-6 uses per word.

    “God” appeared 35 times or so.

    “The” appeared 115 or thereabouts.

    “And” appeared 105 times or so.

    The high incidence of the word “And” is surprising. It suggests interconnectedness, ONE-ness, unity of creation. (again, in English)

    My question is: Is there a corresponding Hebrew word for “and”, or was this some adaptation of the King James translators? I am limited to Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance for my Hebrew. It omits about 47 words, “and” being one of those omitted words.

    I heard you on Coast to Coast 2/2/2012 and became aware of your knowledge of Hebrew. I’ve been hoping to contact someone to answer that question for 30 years now. I hope it picques your interest enough to dash out a reply.

    I was thrilled to hear a sane voice on late night talk radio and look forward to future shows when you are a guest.

    Dennis

    • MSH says:

      A couple of items:

      1) Hebrew poetry rhymes in thought, not sound, as you note. Rhyming in thought is not dependent of using the same vocabulary, though it will naturally involves similar vocabulary.

      2) You can’t judge anything about the Hebrew text using an English translation.

      3) As one who has actually been through every syllable of the KJV, matching it to all the Hebrew (it’s something I had to do for my employer, not a weird hobby!), I can tell you that the KJV tends to be very literal — meaning, the translators tried hard to account for most Hebrew words with a corresponding English word. They tended to use “and” for the waw-conjunction even when something better could have been chosen to reflect the context (like “but”; “so that”; “then”; etc.). But, as you have discovered, even the wooden literalism of the KJV didn’t mean that the translators would just choose not to translate the conjunction when they felt like omitting it. And in poetry that’s a good thing – it would sound very repetitive since the stanzas are short, and it would really mar the thought-rhyming (it would sound clunky).

      Personally, I have a high regard for the KJV as a translation, though I will never trust it in Job again. Job is full of rare words that the KJV translators literally had no idea what to do with. We have cognate languages (Ugaritic, Akkadian, for example) to help us in such instances. They didn’t. They did the best they could.

      • DC Treybil says:

        Thanks for your response to my question.

        I was prompted to ask by a comment you made about the monism of Buddhism. I have recently completed Goswami’s “Self-Aware Universe”. He proposes that a unitive consciousness is the foundation of the cosmos. He does a fair amount of comparative religion on points germane to the discussion (and supportive of his position). I began to revisit this old investigation of mine while I read various portions of his book.

        Since posting the original inquiry here, I found my complete profiles. LOGOS may or may not have a feature which gnereates similar profiles, so I am including those below.

        One list is sorted alphabetically, the other by number of occurrences.

        The exact stats are 856 total words, 166 unique words. “God” appears 35 times, “The” 111 times, while “And” appears 104 times.

        I gather from your reply that “waw” is the English version of the Hebrew word for which “and” was substituted. Also, if anything, “waw” may have appeared a few more than 104 times in the corresponding original Hebrew text . Ideas of ONE-ness or unity in a monistic religious text is probably not a stretch. Interconnectedness (such as “web of life” stuff) might be. This is new information, it’ll take some time to process more fully than that.

        Thanks again.
        Dennis

        **************************************************************************

        1 THE 111
        2 AND 104
        3 GOD 35
        4 EARTH 22
        5 OF 20
        6 IT 18
        7 WAS 17
        8 IN 15
        9 THAT 14
        10 LET 14
        11 DAY 13
        12 WATERS 11
        13 TO 11
        14 AFTER 11
        15 UPON 10
        16 SAID 10
        17 OVER 10
        18 LIGHT 10
        19 HE 10
        20 EVERY 10
        21 WERE 9
        22 THEM 9
        23 FIRMAMENT 9
        24 BE 9
        25 WHICH 8
        26 MADE 8
        27 SO 7
        28 SAW 7
        29 HEAVEN 7
        30 GOOD 7
        31 FROM 7
        32 THEIR 6
        33 SEED 6
        34 MORNING 6
        35 KIND 6
        36 FOWL 6
        37 FOR 6
        38 EVENING 6
        39 CREATED 6
        40 THERE 5
        41 ITS 5
        42 FORTH 5
        43 CALLED 5
        44 ALL 5
        45 YIELDING 4
        46 THING 4
        47 NIGHT 4
        48 KINDS 4
        49 HIS 4
        50 HAVE 4
        51 HAD 4
        52 FRUIT 4
        53 DARKNESS 4
        54 WORK 3
        55 TREE 3
        56 SEVENTH 3
        57 SEA 3
        58 RULE 3
        59 MULTIPLY 3
        60 LIVING 3
        61 LIGHTS 3
        62 IS 3
        63 IMAGE 3
        64 FACE 3
        65 DIVIDE 3
        66 CREEPS 3
        67 CATTLE 3
        68 BRING 3
        69 BLESSED 3
        70 AIR 3
        71 YOU 2
        72 WHOSE 2
        73 VEGETATION 2
        74 UNTO 2
        75 UNDER 2
        76 TOGETHER 2
        77 SEAS 2
        78 RESTED 2
        79 PLANTS 2
        80 PLANT 2
        81 OUR 2
        82 ON 2
        83 MOVES 2
        84 MAN 2
        85 LIFE 2
        86 LAND 2
        87 ITSELF 2
        88 I 2
        89 HAS 2
        90 GREAT 2
        91 GIVEN 2
        92 GIVE 2
        93 FRUITFUL 2
        94 FOOD 2
        95 FISH 2
        96 FILL 2
        97 EVERYTHING 2
        98 DRY 2
        99 DOMINION 2
        100 DIVIDED 2
        101 CREEPING 2
        102 CREATURES 2
        103 BROUGHT 2
        104 BEHOLD 2
        105 BEASTS 2
        106 ABUNDANTLY 2
        107 ABOVE 2
        108 YEARS 1
        109 WITHOUT 1
        110 WINGED 1
        111 WHEREIN 1
        112 VOID 1
        113 VERY 1
        114 US 1
        115 TWO 1
        116 THUS 1
        117 THIRD 1
        118 THINGS 1
        119 SUBDUE 1
        120 STARS 1
        121 SPIRIT 1
        122 SIXTH 1
        123 SIGNS 1
        124 SHALL 1
        125 SET 1
        126 SECOND 1
        127 SEASONS 1
        128 SAYING 1
        129 SANCTIFIED 1
        130 PLACE 1
        131 OWN 1
        132 OPEN 1
        133 ONE 1
        134 MOVING 1
        135 MOVED 1
        136 MIDST 1
        137 MAY 1
        138 MALE 1
        139 MAKE 1
        140 LIKENESS 1
        141 LESSER 1
        142 HOST 1
        143 HIM 1
        144 HEAVENS 1
        145 GREEN 1
        146 GREATER 1
        147 GATHERING 1
        148 GATHERED 1
        149 FOURTH 1
        150 FORM 1
        151 FLY 1
        152 FIRST 1
        153 FINISHED 1
        154 FIFTH 1
        155 FEMALE 1
        156 ENDED 1
        157 DEEP 1
        158 DAYS 1
        159 CREATURE 1
        160 BEGINNING 1
        161 BECAUSE 1
        162 BEAST 1
        163 BEARING 1
        164 APPEAR 1
        165 ALSO 1
        166 A 1

        856 856
        *************************************************
        1 A 1
        2 ABOVE 2
        3 ABUNDANTLY 2
        4 AFTER 11
        5 AIR 3
        6 ALL 5
        7 ALSO 1
        8 AND 104
        9 APPEAR 1
        10 BE 9
        11 BEARING 1
        12 BEAST 1
        13 BEASTS 2
        14 BECAUSE 1
        15 BEGINNING 1
        16 BEHOLD 2
        17 BLESSED 3
        18 BRING 3
        19 BROUGHT 2
        20 CALLED 5
        21 CATTLE 3
        22 CREATED 6
        23 CREATURE 1
        24 CREATURES 2
        25 CREEPING 2
        26 CREEPS 3
        27 DARKNESS 4
        28 DAY 13
        29 DAYS 1
        30 DEEP 1
        31 DIVIDE 3
        32 DIVIDED 2
        33 DOMINION 2
        34 DRY 2
        35 EARTH 22
        36 ENDED 1
        37 EVENING 6
        38 EVERY 10
        39 EVERYTHING 2
        40 FACE 3
        41 FEMALE 1
        42 FIFTH 1
        43 FILL 2
        44 FINISHED 1
        45 FIRMAMENT 9
        46 FIRST 1
        47 FISH 2
        48 FLY 1
        49 FOOD 2
        50 FOR 6
        51 FORM 1
        52 FORTH 5
        53 FOURTH 1
        54 FOWL 6
        55 FROM 7
        56 FRUIT 4
        57 FRUITFUL 2
        58 GATHERED 1
        59 GATHERING 1
        60 GIVE 2
        61 GIVEN 2
        62 GOD 35
        63 GOOD 7
        64 GREAT 2
        65 GREATER 1
        66 GREEN 1
        67 HAD 4
        68 HAS 2
        69 HAVE 4
        70 HE 10
        71 HEAVEN 7
        72 HEAVENS 1
        73 HIM 1
        74 HIS 4
        75 HOST 1
        76 I 2
        77 IMAGE 3
        78 IN 15
        79 IS 3
        80 IT 18
        81 ITS 5
        82 ITSELF 2
        83 KIND 6
        84 KINDS 4
        85 LAND 2
        86 LESSER 1
        87 LET 14
        88 LIFE 2
        89 LIGHT 10
        90 LIGHTS 3
        91 LIKENESS 1
        92 LIVING 3
        93 MADE 8
        94 MAKE 1
        95 MALE 1
        96 MAN 2
        97 MAY 1
        98 MIDST 1
        99 MORNING 6
        100 MOVED 1
        101 MOVES 2
        102 MOVING 1
        103 MULTIPLY 3
        104 NIGHT 4
        105 OF 20
        106 ON 2
        107 ONE 1
        108 OPEN 1
        109 OUR 2
        110 OVER 10
        111 OWN 1
        112 PLACE 1
        113 PLANT 2
        114 PLANTS 2
        115 RESTED 2
        116 RULE 3
        117 SAID 10
        118 SANCTIFIED 1
        119 SAW 7
        120 SAYING 1
        121 SEA 3
        122 SEAS 2
        123 SEASONS 1
        124 SECOND 1
        125 SEED 6
        126 SET 1
        127 SEVENTH 3
        128 SHALL 1
        129 SIGNS 1
        130 SIXTH 1
        131 SO 7
        132 SPIRIT 1
        133 STARS 1
        134 SUBDUE 1
        135 THAT 14
        136 THE 111
        137 THEIR 6
        138 THEM 9
        139 THERE 5
        140 THING 4
        141 THINGS 1
        142 THIRD 1
        143 THUS 1
        144 TO 11
        145 TOGETHER 2
        146 TREE 3
        147 TWO 1
        148 UNDER 2
        149 UNTO 2
        150 UPON 10
        151 US 1
        152 VEGETATION 2
        153 VERY 1
        154 VOID 1
        155 WAS 17
        156 WATERS 11
        157 WERE 9
        158 WHEREIN 1
        159 WHICH 8
        160 WHOSE 2
        161 WINGED 1
        162 WITHOUT 1
        163 WORK 3
        164 YEARS 1
        165 YIELDING 4
        166 YOU 2

        • MSH says:

          no idea what the point of such counting is supposed to be (in English or Hebrew for that matter).

        • DC Treybil says:

          I wasn’t sure what I’d find when I did this. I sorta’ expected to find “God” the most used word. It wasn’t. “And” & “The” were used about triple that.

          I began to entertain a sort of “weighting” idea. If ideas were rhymed, then the more times a related rhyme appeared, the more important the idea being rhymed. Since I was not sophisticated enough to look for that, I aimed at something I could do, which was count words.

          One interesting rhyme is “and the Earth”. This phrase ends verse 1 and begins verse 2. Except for the fact it is there, I can think of little to recommend it.

          It’s somewhat like the riddle: Why did the fly fly? Because the spider spider (as in “spied her”).

          Another phrase repeated verbatim is “after his kind”. Appearing 8 times, it had to do with procreation of plants and animals.

          The most prominent idea rhyme is “And the evening and the morning were the [next] day.”

          This lends the idea of progress to creation and history (as this introduces the OT, or the “5 books of Moses” at least) The universe is unfolding (as it should) – Desiderata.

          Back to “And”. It is tempting to ignore “The”. And, as you might gather from the fact I did not inquire about a corresponding Hebrew word, I did ignore it. But upon visiting this issue with you, I find myself challenging that decision. I notice that “an” is not used. “A” is used only once (Let there be A firmament . . .)

          With all the handy gadgets presently available to store and retrieve information, I have what would have 100 years ago been a terminal case of lazy brain. I say this because by some accounts, minstrels of old typically could hear 1,000 words once and repeat them verbatim, flawlessly and with confidence. The cited portion of Genesis is only 856 years. Even after studying it at length for many years, I could not recite it if my life depended on it.

          I say this because it may tell something about the likely abilities of the author(s) of this text and those who edited, copied and transmitted it. Myself, I may need a computer to arrive at this profile. It’s not hard to imagine that a devoted writer of some skill could compose something weighted and “rhymed” in this manner on purpose.

  14. Anne says:

    Hi Dr. Heiser

    Just a brief note to say “you’re cool!” I found you after trying to find something anti-Sitchin and came to you. I love the combination of scholarship and faith and look forward to studying more of your blogs/sites when I have time.

    Cheers,
    Anne

      • Anne says:

        !!! I just, on a whim, looked you up on Facebook. I can’t believe it. You are from my area. I worked in your hometown and now live closer to the capital. Amazing! Small world.

        • MSH says:

          Do you mean Lebanon, PA?

          • Anne says:

            I do!!! I worked there and loved the people I worked with. I now live in Middletown, which I am sure you know as well. I didn’t want to name it for your privacy, but I suppose given the Facebook info that is a moot point. May I ask you a personal question? I am a Christian too so I am not arguing with you…I would just like your informed justification. Why do you believe Judeo/Christianity to be true and not simply an age-old fable, or as I often read online “a stone age myth?” Thanks. Anne

            • MSH says:

              I have an uncle who still lives in Middletown.

              My answer to the question proceeds from basic presuppositions — e.g., theism vs. no God; then, if there is a God then it stands to reason he can do something; then, if he can do something why couldn’t he prompt people to write something down [heck, I can do that much]; then, if he prompted people to write something down, it stands to reason he wouldn’t do so for the express reason of contradicting himself at every chance [i.e., multiple religions can't all be right]. At that point, Christianity provides a clear description of the human condition that conforms to reality very well [all sin and come short of God's glory]. It then provides the only coherent solution (i.e., if it is true that humans have offended God and will always offend God at some point due to their imperfection, it is silly to think human works can solve that problem; it only makes sense to have God provide the solution, and if sin demands death, and all people at all times have sinned and are worthy of death, then the sacrifice for sin needs to be eternal; that can only happen if an eternal being comes to earth in a form that can die on place of humans; in that sense, a deity-human dying for sinful humanity, and whose death covers all sin past, present, and future, is the only thing that coherently addresses all the needs of the problem. And only love could motivate this. And that is the Christian story [John 3:16].

  15. Paul says:

    How did early Jewish scholars view Melchizedek in Genesis?
    How did early Christians view of Melchizedek in the book of Hebrews?
    Was Melchizedek a theophany?

    Thanks
    Paul

    • MSH says:

      In order:

      [1] It varied; there is a DSS text (11Q Melchizedek) that has Melchizedek as the singular elohim of Psa 82, so at least one scribe thought of him as a divine being or at least playing the role of a divine being in the eschaton. Here is an excerpt as an example:

      Second Enoch.
      The earliest and most extensive extrabiblical tradition about Melchizedek is found in 2 Enoch 71–72 (A and J manuscripts; see Enoch, Books of). Melchizedek is described as born “fully developed” as a three-year old. He has the mark of the high priesthood on him from birth and must be hidden lest the wicked kill him. God, through the agency of an archangel, hides the child Melchizedek in the garden of Eden for seven years. This child is finally placed at the head of the high priests of the future in the “center of the earth where Adam was created” (2 Enoch 71:35 [J]). In these texts Melchizedek is a title. There are multiple Melchizedeks “according to the order of Melchizedek,” though the greatest of these is the aforementioned.

      Melchizedek in Qumran Literature.
      Although fragments of Enoch dating to the early third century b.c. are found among the Dead Sea Scrolls, 2 Enoch is not found and is usually considered a later composition (c. a.d. 100–200). Still, it seems likely that the traditions in 2 Enoch have their origins in the Second Temple period, given other evidence for highly developed Melchizedek traditions in Qumran literature.
      The most prominent development of the Melchizedek traditions in Qumran literature are found in a thematic midrash (pesher) known as 11QMelchizedek (11Q13; van der Woude 1965). The midrash is quite fragmentary, with only one column of text well represented. It was apparently organized around Isaiah 61, which is cited repeatedly (see lines 4, 9, 14, 19–20). The passage from Isaiah raises the issue of the release (citing Lev 25:13; Deut 15:2), which points to the ten Jubilee periods that will end in “the day of the vengeance of ?el?hęnű.” Although the plain sense would suggest that ?el?hęnű means “our God,” the Qumran interpreter takes it as a reference to Melchizedek (note lines 24–25), citing passages where he understands ? el?h??m to refer to the holy angels who will judge the fallen angels (Pss 82:1; 7:8–9; 82:2; Is 52:7). Melchizedek is presented as the judge of both the saints of God and the fallen angels. The faithful of God will be included in Melchizedek’s lot, while the fallen angels are part of the lot of Belial. There is a similarity between the roles of Melchizedek and the archangel Michael in the War Scroll (1QM 9:14–16), though the two are never explicitly equated in Qumranic literature. F. Garc?a Mart?nez has suggested that Melchizedek may be identified with the “Son of God” in another Qumran composition, the Aramaic Apocalypse (4Q “Son of God” [4Q246]).
      An underlying dualism in the Melchizedek traditions is evident by the appearance of the anti-figure Melchiresha? (“king of wickedness”) in 4QAmram (4Q543-548) and 4QBenedictionsf (4Q280). 4QAmram is quite fragmentary, yet a few observations can be recovered. In 4QAmram, the father of Moses, Amram, describes his vision of the Watchers, including the chief Angel of Darkness. One of the three names of this angel is Melchiresha? (the other two names are lost). Melchiresha? addresses the leader of the army of light, who also has three names. One of the names of Melchiresha?’s counterpart, the leader of the army of light, was probably Melchizedek (and also perhaps Michael), but his three names are also lost. 4QBenedictions is also fragmentary, but it suggests that Melchiresha? is set apart “from the sons of light for evil because he turned away from following God.” In other words, it suggests that the Qumran sectarians read the Melchizedek traditions as part of the myth of the fallen angels (see Gen 6:1–4).

      Other Jewish Literature.
      The Palestinian Jew turned historian, Flavius Josephus, took a purely human interpretation of Melchizedek. He writes that Abraham “was received by the king of Solyma, Melchizedek, whose name means righteous king, and such he was by common consent, inasmuch as for this reason he was moreover made priest of God; Solyma was in fact the place afterward called Hierosolyma [that is, Jerusalem]” (Josephus Ant. 1.10.2 §180). Philo Judaeus lived in Alexandria and was roughly a contemporary with Jesus as well as the later stages of the Qumran community. He also took a strictly this-worldly view of Melchizedek: “God has also made Melchizedek both king of peace, for that is the meaning of Salem, and his own priest.… For he is named ‘the righteous king’ [ = Melchizedek], and a king is one who is opposed to the tyrant; the one is the author of laws, the other of lawlessness” (Philo Leg. All. 3.25–26 §§79–82). Both the second-century Aramaic Targum Neofiti and the Fragment Targum identify Melchizedek with Noah’s son Shem in its translation of Genesis 14:18: “The king of Righteousness (Melka-sedek), the king of Jerusalem—he is Shem, the great one—brought out bread and wine, for he was the priest who served in the High Priesthood before the Most High God” (also the later Targum Pseudo-Jonathan).Later rabbinic traditions understand the high priesthood to have first been given to Shem-Melchizedek (Gen 14:18–20) but then transferred to Aaron through Abraham. Psalm 110:4 was read, “You [Abraham] are a priest forever” (see b. Zeba?. 62a). From manuscripts of b. Sukkah 52b, we learn that Melchizedek is a righteous priest who was apparently translated into heaven and who would reappear in the messianic age. But he is a purely human figure. The connection of the Melchizedek tradition with the traditions about the fallen angels was thus marginalized by rabbinic Judaism, perhaps even in response to the prominence they were given in early Christianity.
      Stanley E. Porter and Craig A. Evans, Dictionary of New Testament Background : A Compendium of Contemporary Biblical Scholarship (electronic ed.; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2000).

      [2] Also varied; another sample (note the comment toward the end):

      elchizedek blessed Abraham; now “it is beyond dispute that the inferior is blessed by the superior.” Moreover, “here tithes are received by mortal men; there by one of whom it is testified that he lives.” The choice (in Ps 110:4) of the phrase “after the order of Melchizedek” rather than “after the order of Aaron” confirms Melchizedek’s precedence over levitical priests (Heb 7:14). The Letter’s notion of Melchizedek as a primeval, immortal being, coeternal with the Son of God, gave rise to various heterodox opinions in the early Christian Church; and there even arose a sect of Melchizedekians who regarded Melchizedek as equal or superior to Christ; but by the 5th century a.d. the Church stopped such speculations and no longer occupied itself with the mysterious figure of Melchizedek.
      David Noel Freedman, The Anchor Bible Dictionary (New York: Doubleday, 1996, c1992), 4:686.

      [3.] I don’t believe so.

      • Daniel Woodhead says:

        On a related note I believe that there are Jewish Midrash on Genesis 14 (Rashi and Tanchuma 15) that states Chedorlaomer one of the defeated kings in Abraham’s great battle with the kings was the king of Elam. Elam was one of the sons of Shem. There the midrash argues that Melchizedek is Shem! Interesting and plausible to ponder since Shem lived 35 years beyond Abraham’s life. Shem died Cir. 2158 AH and Abraham died Cir. 2123 AH (Anno Homini) year of man counting from Adam’s creation. By the way I really liked the Skarsaune book.

        Blessings to you.

        Daniel

  16. Anne says:

    Hi again. I enjoy going over your websites and blogs. But it is difficult for me to retain a train of thought moving about like that. I know you have written The Facade (which I purchased twice inadvertently…having purchased it once years ago and just recently). Do you have any plans to write a book explaining Christianity and it’s Jewish roots? I have books explaining reasons for belief by various others, i.e. Anthony Flew, Francis Collins, etc. I don’t, however, have one based on linguistics and understanding of ancient beliefs. I would find that to be a huge benefit, particularly when discussing faith with the well-educated agnostics in my circle. Thanks, Anne

  17. Laura says:

    I have just begun to review your research. The divine counsel info seems pretty insightful. Glad you understand the Lord is One. I noticed you don’t believe the 7 days of creation is necessarily 7 24-hour days. The Lord did make it clear that there was an evening and a morning – day 1. If these aren’t 24-hours, that’s a long time of darkness and a long time of light. But during those 7 days, the Lord did set things up for the rest of earth’s time and His set up gives us the 24-hour cycle. I do hold to the 24 view and I’m sorry you leave an opening for evolution.

    I’ll still have to check out your studies to seek if you vere way off somewhere. But being I am not familiar with you, please tell me if you are in any way connected to the biologos people.

    • MSH says:

      The 24-hour day issue is actually a non-issue. Yes, one can affirm that “evening and morning” would be the natural way to label what we now know as a 24-hr day cycle. That is the most straightforward way to take *that phrase*. But that doesn’t have much to do with the word “yom” itself (and it matters not that the word is partnered with a numeral — the evening and morning phrase is more important). I say this is a non-issue since it does not at all resolve whether the days are to be taken as a linear chronology of actual creative events (as opposed to the writer just using the normal language, but structuring the days so they align for some literary purpose — see the “Literary Framework” view for how days 1 & 4, 2 & 5, and 3 & 6 thematically align). And all that is besides the main points in my own view: (1) The first creative act in Gen 1″1-3 is in verse 3, not verse 1, due to Hebrew syntax; this means the material of 1:1-2 was pre-existent to God’s creative act of 1:3; and (2) the Ancient Near Eastern context of all this (cf. Walton’s book, The Lost World of Genesis 1) has nothing to do with science or a scientific approach to creation, but is rather a theological message about who the Creator is, and how that Creator is resting in his temple (the created heavens and earth) on Day 7. In other words, it’s not about any literal science or chronology; it’s about good theology. (See my Vimeo video channel for the videos on Genesis: http://vimeo.com/channels/306737).

      • Laura says:

        K, Mike, I googled Literary Framework, and I like this site for an explanation of it: http://adampowers.wordpress.com/2010/02/03/why-i-dont-believe-in-the-literary-framework-view-of-genesis-1/
        That theory in itself does not hold up, since as this review notes, the expanse needed to be there before the lights were placed, etc. The creation was all done in order, and I believe as God’s Word says, each step was done in one evening and one morning. I don’t understand why you fear accepting this “evening and morning” to be the set up we now have, which is 24 hours. I did not grow up in the church. I came to the Lord when I was 20. I began to read the Bible (cover-to-cover) to use it to disprove the religious people. In the middle of the New Testament, I believed. I have not got the preconceived ideas it seems you assume I have. I have always understood that there was earth and deep and waters before God began to create our lives, our origin. I had viewed your vimeo on creation before I had written you at first. I don’t have the language knowledge you have; however, when I had read the Bible at the beginning without the static from religious people, it was more clear. For example, I never had a problem understanding the Sons of God were not the same as man until I heard the religious arguments trying to explain away Gen 6:1. I hate to see you jumping in as added static to the simplicitiy of God’s 6 + 1 day creation. I’m interested in your findings, but you did not answer my question of whether you are affiliated with biologos. Please answer.

        • MSH says:

          The expanse was created in Gen 1:6-8, before the light-bearers and the sun (1:14-18) – taking things in order – so I’m not sure what the point of the objection to which you refer is. At face value, it’s incoherent.

          I don’t “fear” accepting anything in the text, but the issues for interpreting Gen 1 are so much wider than that phrase. You don’t seem to understand the issues I’m referring to about the grammar and syntax. The best thing I can do is direct you to the video lecture. It’s laid out in plain language; you need not know Hebrew for it. The order of the days does not solve anything in regard to an ancient earth. You can have them and be an old-earther since the grammar and syntax of Gen 1:1-3 is wide open as far as long stretches of time preceding the days. But the larger issue is whether Gen 1 aimed to give us a scientific accounting in the first place, which was not it’s aim. So, holding to a sequence of 24 hour days doesn’t nail anything down.

          Not sure the video will show in the comments (if not, the URL is: http://vimeo.com/channels/306737 (Genesis 1 of 4 video)

          Genesis & Creation - Class 1 of 4 - September 15, 2010 from Grace Church Bellingham on Vimeo.

  18. MSH says:

    (answered in email).

  19. Anonymous says:

    How can the following statement…

    “I’d be a happier guy if every graduate student in biblical studies and theology was forced to take courses in logic and critical thinking.”

    be reconciled with the following verses…

    For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” says the LORD. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.
    - Isaiah 55:8-9

    Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths. Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the LORD and depart from evil. It will be health to your flesh, And strength to your bones.
    - Proverbs 3:5-8

    There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.
    - Proverbs 14:12 (16:25)

    We know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffs up, but love edifies. And if anyone thinks that he knows anything, he knows nothing yet as he ought to know. But if anyone loves God, this one is known by Him.
    - 1 Corinthians 8:1-3

    • MSH says:

      Simple: none of those verses prescribe poor thinking. You either think well or you don’t. God’s knowledge is not best understood by poor thinking.

  20. Tom W. says:

    Dearest Brother Mike / Dr. Heiser:

    I just want to say THANK YOU for taking time out from your ever-so-busy schedule to BLESS US with your excellent Naked Bible Podcast. May OUR God so richly Bless YOU … and YOURS …

  21. Charlie says:

    Dr. Heiser,
    I feel very fortunate to have been led to your websites, there is so much information here that I just can’t consume it fast enough. I really enjoy taking these issues on one at a time as you do so well. I find that I tend to agree with you a lot! There are several issues I’m hoping that you tackle in the future (or maybe you already have and I haven’t got to it yet).

    There is one issue that has always stumped me (that I’m hoping you would consider writing on) and that is the creation of the spirit of man and at what point in time is it “loaded” into the flesh body? What does it mean that God “knew” Jeremiah before he was in his mother’s womb? Do humans have a “pre-flesh consciousness” that was “emptied out” before we entered our bodies? According to Phillipians 2:7 Jesus “emptied Himself” and was made in the likeness of men. I am not saying that we are eternal beings as God, but could our spirits have been created much earlier than our flesh containers and we were “emptied out” before we embodied them? I haven’t found much written on this topic, and maybe there just isn’t enough information to develop a representational understanding other than the traditional thought that our spirits and bodies are created simultaneously.

    Thank you again for your tremendous effort, I know you will be blessed for it.

  22. Amber says:

    I know you get so much email but I would so appreciate your comments about the website: ENTEMENANKI. Does the knowledge he shares have anything to do with God writing his message in the heavens (sky)? Is this an interpretation of sorts? I have never been exposed to this special knowlege. Please respond because I am very taken by the site and want to know if it is real or even good?
    Thank you.
    Amber Gaye
    Reply

    • MSH says:

      I’d have to look through it; at first glance I’m not terribly optimistic, BUT as I’m interested in this sort of thing, I’ll give it a look.

  23. Dirk says:

    Dear Dr Michael,

    I know you are busy but do you know if there is a connection between the Mohammedeans, UFOs and the eschaton. I once read that “Islam” means “UFO” in the Original Hebrew but my limited knowledge would suggest this might be tenuous.

    Thank you for your time.

    Dirk

    • MSH says:

      Had to laugh here. “Islam” does not mean “UFO”. If you can find some link for that, email it to me. It would make a great blog post. “Islam” comes from an Arabic word meaning “submission”; all Semitists and Arabists agree on that.

  24. T-rat says:

    1907 vs. Detroit Tigers. The Cubs won their first World Series title.

    1908 vs. Detroit Tigers. The Cubs win the series four games to one to capture their second consecutive World Series title.

    • MSH says:

      I know – I have a pastor friend who’s a Cubs fan, and I’m a baseball fan in general. I added the word “again” for clarity!

  25. T-rat says:

    LOL! Sorry for my weak attempt at humor.. and I agree with you ..on dogmatics vs logic and critical thinking. Actually, I’m not much for baseball fan myself.

  26. Gregory Chambers says:

    http://www.jewishjournal.com/judaismandscience/item/the_camels_nose_and_the_torahs_tent

    Your thoughts? Perhaps a topic for a future “Naked Bible” post? Thanks.

    Greg

    • MSH says:

      I’ve already blogged a lot about the documentary hypothesis – what else specifically in here draws your attention?

      • Gregory Chambers says:

        I was more interested in your thoughts re: purported anachronisms in the OT, especially the examples listed by the article’s author.

        • MSH says:

          since this comment was left on my “About” page, which author and article are you referring to?

          • Gregory Chambers says:

            Sorry if this was not the place to ask a question. The link was in my original post. Perhaps you overlooked it. Here it is again: http://www.jewishjournal.com/judaismandscience/item/the_camels_nose_and_the_torahs_tent

            I was particularly interested in your comments regarding the anachronisms cited by the author. Thank you.

            • MSH says:

              Thoughts on the anachronism examples (I’m not sure what the concern is and I of course can’t write a paper on the article, but here are quick selective comments).

              1. Gen 34:7 – a poor example as worded, since the patriarch Jacob is renamed Israel in Gen 32:28 and Israel as a people are mentioned twice after that (Gen 32:32; 33:20), but before Gen 34:7.

              2. Exod 19 – an ambiguous example and well known. The problem, though, is that if Israelites were practicing ANY sort of religion in Egypt, they would have had priests, and so the term may be generic.

              3. Gen 47 and Goshen – a good example and well known. There are several of these “place name updatings” in the OT.

              4. Ditto on references to the Philistines, but there are scholars that dispute the anachronism. As one scholar notes: “most commentators have explained the early appearance of the Philistines in the patriarchal accounts as anachronistic. Others . . . argue that there are two migrations in view, an earlier group that Abraham and Isaac encountered in Canaan and a subsequent migration among the Sea Peoples (ca. 1200 B.C.).”

              5. Camels – not a good example of anachronism (the essay seems under-informed here). Again, from one source:
              “The paleozoologic, iconographic and textual evidence concerning the domestication of the camel in the ancient Near East is ambiguous, but it seems clear that the camel (including both the Bactrian two-humped camel [camelus bactrianus] and the one-humped dromedary [camelus dromedarius]) had been domesticated in lower Mesopotamia and southern Arabia by 2500 b.c. (Hesse, 217; Staubli, 184–85; Borowski, 112–18). R. Younker has recently discussed some petroglyphs depicting camels being led by human figures in the Wadi Nasib, Sinai. These petroglyphs were discovered in close proximity to a Proto-Sinaitic inscription found by Gerster in 1961, which he dates not later than 1500 b.c. Zarins (1825–26) notes that osteological remains from Shahr-I-Sokhta in eastern Iran in a context dated to 2700 b.c. clearly indicate a domesticated camel. In the Arabian Peninsula bones found at Umm-an-Nar and dated to the late third millennium b.c. would also support the view of an early domestication of the camel. Some bone remains have been found at Arad in an Early Bronze context (c. 2900 b.c.; cf. Wapnish), although it is not clear whether they indicate a domesticated animal. Looking from the angle of Jordan, J. Sauer has argued that the camel was definitely domesticated by the third millennium b.c. but that its widespread use only began to emerge during the final moments of the Late Bronze Age. It would thus appear that Abraham’s “camel connection” is not a good example for an anachronism but rather can be confidently explained in the context of either the early or late date connected to the patriarchal period, beginning around the end of the third millennium b.c.”

  27. Gregory Chambers says:

    Thank you very much!

  28. Andrew says:

    Hi Dr. Heiser,

    I greatly enjoy your Blogs. Your scholastic approach, and your well expressed delivery, is refreshing. I apologize in advance if I have submitted this in a inappropriate section, and will gladly re-post and take my answer elsewhere (assuming you have time to get to it). My question concerns the terminology ascribed to both Jesus and Helel, that being “The Morning Star.” Do you have insight on why the same term is used in description of both? Or if it even is? I ask this because I would like to know how to address this issue when confronted by non-believers who are caught up in Mormon, New Age, Gnostic-esk doctrines assert they are one in the same or spirit brothers based on this. Is something lost in translation? Am I misreading Isaiah 14, or Revelation 22? I have seen different translations for Isaiah 14 ==> “Son of the dawn” or “Day Star”. Overall I am a bit confused. Any help is much appreciated.

    Also, I want to thank you for demystifying many of the bible passages that I was hung up on for many years, and which consequentially allowed me to embrace an occultist/esoteric interpretation of scripture. I now know I was DEAD wrong. You were instrumental in my final whole-hearted embrace of the veracity and truth found in The Word and my acceptance of Christ deity. For the first time, I feel that I have a knowledgeable bases for coming to know my Redeemer. You are blessed with understanding though your diligent work and no doubt have led many others like myself to come to know Christ as their Savior. I feel obligated to express my extreme gratitude. Thanks!

    • MSH says:

      Thanks for this note, Andrew. So glad to hear how it’s helped and prompted you. This is a good item for a post. I’ve answered this in emails before, but I should have some place for it to direct people to. It’s on my short list.

  29. Angela DeJesus says:

    How can I subscribe to the blog postings so I receive them via email. A mutual friend of ours told me she gets them from you and I would like the opportunity as well. Thanks!

    • MSH says:

      I don’t have anything for this up on the blog at present – only for subscribing via RSS. I used to, but the plug in for that quit on me and I had to remove it. Send me a direct email so I am reminded to look for another plug in for that.

  30. [...] to Dr. Michael Heiser for the links. Share this: Leave a reply Share This Oct 15 1 0 [...]

  31. Michael says:

    Dr. Heiser,

    Do the scriptures indicate that the Memra as Jesus Christ descended into Sheol for the sins of the world? The Hebrew scripture of Hab.2:4 speaks of ‘his’ faith, and the Septuagint speaks of ‘my’ faith. Are we justified by the faith of Jesus Christ in so far as he believed that he would be delivered from the realm of Sheol? That is, “thou will not leave my soul in sheol”?

    And what does it mean when the Son of God is called the firstborn of all creation, or the beginning of creation, and the firstborn from the dead?

    Thank you.

    • MSH says:

      On the descent idea, see: http://michaelsheiser.com/TheNakedBible/2012/04/baptism-spiritual-warfare/

      “Firstborn” is a term of prominence or status, not necessarily chronology or origin. The term refers to a preeminent status. For example, in certain OT passages, the special status of the firstborn did not require that he actually be the firstborn (chronological origin). For example, Isaac was not Abraham’s first son, yet he was given the status of the firstborn, inheriting the right of the firstborn (Gen 16–17; 21:1–21). When Jacob blessed the sons of Joseph he transferred the blessing of the firstborn to his second son (Gen 48).

  32. James L says:

    Hello Dr Heiser, God bless you!

    I have been looking into the history of the King James Version bible that causes so much controversy amongst believers today, and had a few questions concerning this issue. I’ll be up front and say that I lean towards the idea that the KJV is the literal Word of God, but in English. I know some words do not translate well or at all into English, but apart from that issue feel that what I read is understandable and coherent to the point that I do not find a fault with it. In that regard, I am a KJV-onlyist. Don’t hold that against me! (At least not yet).

    So, with that said, here are my questions…

    1. In your reply to DC Treybil, you mentioned something about the book of Job, how some of the words in it the KJV translation committee did not know how to translate. Could you expand on this a little more and maybe give an example of one?

    2. I’ve heard it said that the Septuagint is essentially non-existent, as far as the Old Testament is concerned, since only a portion of Deuteronomy was found. Is this true, or are there other texts which cite it that are contemporary of its time, that include works other than the portion of Deuteronomy?

    3. If it is true that the LXX is “non-existent”, then what is being referred to when it is cited as a source document?

    4. Are there really two separate Latin Vulgate translations, one before and one after Jerome? (I know your specialty is not Latin, but I thought maybe since this fits the “ancient manuscripts” category, you might have seen information on this that the average person has not).

    5. With regards to the Dead Sea Scrolls, is there any indication that a subsequent or modern text more closely resembles what was found there?

    6. And my final question, to be to the point, is there any indication that there really are only two families of texts; ie, one originating from Antioch and one originating from Alexandria? (Do all the known texts really fit into just two categories)?

    Thank you.

    • MSH says:

      I don’t believe for a minute that the KJV is “the” inspired translation for English (and no translation in any language is inspired in the same sense as the original process of inspiration). The KJV-only view is defended by (honestly) illogic and myths. For examples and responses that reflect my own views, see Carson’s short but telling book, The KJV Only Debate: A Plea for Realism.

      For my own part, I’m likely the only person on earth (really) who has manually aligned every word of the KJV to the Hebrew-Aramaic-Greek texts (I did that as part of my job at Logos over the course of a year). See

      http://michaelsheiser.com/TheNakedBible/bible-versions/

      The KJV is a fine translation for the most part (archaisms aside), but there are places where they just guessed or misunderstood certain points of Hebrew grammar. I’ll never trust it in Job again. But it deserves a place of honor in the English-speaking world.

  33. Becky says:

    I have found your work to be incredibly helpful over the last year or so, and would honestly love for you to publish a better translation of Job! If that’s not on your agenda, what is the best current translation?

    • MSH says:

      The best translation of Job in my view is a formally equivalent one, and one that is honest with its uncertainties (in notes). For that reason I prefer ESV, LEB (Lexham English Bible), or the JPS English Tanakh. Ultimately, though, I reference commentaries for issues in Job instead of relying on a translation.

  34. Duncan says:

    Mike,
    Haven’t seen theses questions addressed but haven’t read entire website yet:

    1. Is there any modern English translation you feel does get it right at least most of the time? (top 2?) Reading your criticism has made me more aware of flaws, but I don’t read Hebrew yet, and as a Christian I want to get it right.

    2. Which theologians take the approach you recommend i.e. reading the text for what it says, rather than to bolster a popular or long-held interpretation? Again, as a non-expert, I want to understand it correctly.

    Thanks for the forum. It’s nice to know there are others who share my top 3 interests (in order): God, science, and UFOs! Loving the Façade by the way.

    Duncan

    • MSH says:

      On translations, see my thoughts here:

      http://michaelsheiser.com/TheNakedBible/bible-versions/

      The other question is sort of impossible to answer. Maybe the best way to ask it is “which theologians devote themselves to primary texts and exegesis?” What you want is a sincere effort to derive theology / beliefs FROM the text – what is sustainable from the grammar and semantics of the text? Systematic theologians don’t do that, so I don’t read them much (they are useful for helping you frame questions, but they work from translations). Anything you read should “show the work” of the writer or commentator. You’d need to know Greek and Hebrew to know if what they’re doing makes sense, but if they aren’t showing their work at all, that tells you something, too. I don’t read much Christian theology. I read mostly journal articles, grammars, and commentaries. I think N.T. Wright does good work (when he writes under “Tom Wright” it’s the lite version). Richard Bauckham, Larry Hurtado, John Walton. They do some popular stuff.

      One of the best things I can recommend is the NET Bible and its notes. It’s a free online collaborative translation with tens of thousands of notes about the translation. That’s probably the best thing I can offer by way of an answer.

  35. Lesly Booth says:

    Hello Dr. Heiser,

    Would you clarify just what languages were used for the inscription Pilate placed above the cross? Is it 3 – Greek, Latin and Hebrew or Greek, Latin and Aramaic. Or is it 4 – Greek, Latin, Hebrew and Aramaic?

    Thanks,
    Lesly

    • MSH says:

      19 Pilate also wrote an inscription and put it on the cross. It read, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” 20 Many of the Jews read this inscription, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and it was written in Aramaic, in Latin, and in Greek.

      The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), Jn 19:19–20.

  36. Scott says:

    Dr. MSH,

    I was reading “Our Occulted History” by Jim Marrs (stop rolling your eyes) and there’s a part where Jim is discussing Mauro Biglino and he states that Mauro uses an older translation database when translating where you and other scholars use a more recent one, thereby making the point that Mauro’s translation (which pretty much supporys Sitchen’s ideas about the Annunaki) is more accurate. What’s that all about?

    • MSH says:

      nonsense. The ETCSL is the most up-to-date database. If someone wants to use translations that don’t account for the latest finds and research in lexicography, that’s a flaw, not an asset. I’d like to know what “database” he’s talking about – the use of databases for this sort of thing isn’t that old.

  37. Lesly Booth says:

    Thank you for your response Dr Heiser.

    I was aware that the ESV had ‘Aramaic’ but because most other versions have ‘Hebrew’, I was wondering why… I have read that on their return from Babylon, the Jewish people no longer spoke Hebrew, rather they used the Aramaic picked up from that region; that in the time of the Lord, they mainly spoke Aramaic but Hebrew was used in some areas of Jewish life.

    Just curious!

    Again, thanks for your time.

    Sincerely,
    Lesly.

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