INTRODUCTION — ANTIQUITY REANIMATED: Exploding Modern Myths About the Ancient Past

I am hoping that my readers and followers may have been wondering what I’ve been up to and why I haven’t been as dutiful in posting new articles as per usual.  Of course, the answer is that I’m researching and writing the next book.  I’d like to present a draft of the first element of the new book, its Introduction.  Many have requested that the next book should be REVISING REALITY: Volume 2.  Actually, this book needs to come first.  It will be in the same spirit and of the same mindset as RR, Volume 1. Keep in mind this is just a draft as all good introductions should be written after you’ve concluded the last chapter of your book.  In this case, I ventured to write an introduction as a catharsis and to get my outline assembled.  I also want to share this concept with you to beseech your input.


Mainly, do you want to read this book?  Is the topic intriguing enough to interest you? Is the more familiar style helpful to build interest and readability?  I’m inserting more of my humor.  Do you like that?  It is a big help to encourage me to pursue this more diligently and to get it published by the end of July.  That’s my hope.  My email address is doug@faith-happens.com. Well, here goes.  Be sure to check the footnotes at the end of this format.


 ANTIQUITY REANIMATED:  Exploding Modern Myths About the Ancient Past

Introduction

** DRAFT **

Where We Find Ourselves

Understanding where we’re going begins by understanding where we’ve been – or more precisely, where we came from. Christians perceive that we have the inside track in this quest. And we do. We know a lot about the past.  Our faith is drawn from the past actions of heroes and saints, our Lord Jesus chief among them. Unfortunately, we have been fooled into believing a great deal of hogwash about earlier times, what we should rightly call antiquity. In other words, the inside track hasn’t kept us from getting on the wrong track. That’s why we need to jump the track we are running on now and start heading in the right direction. Borrowing a term from liberal theology, we need to demythologize modern attempts to explain away or expound upon our ancient texts – wrongly.

“History would be a wonderful thing, if only it were true” (Leo Tolstoy).

A Cuneiform Tablet

Over the past 200 years or so, secularism has championed positivistic explanations of sacred texts. Today, many well-known best-selling authors offer an explanation from a very different place. Spacemen were our forebears. All human achievements can be explained by seeing an extraterrestrial in the woodpile. However, whether from a perspective of naturalism that denies supernatural agents to a fantastical point of view that sees every wonder in our past proving visits from ancient aliens, we need to call “balderdash” to both (I could think of a more modern term, but this book is targeted for Christians who value modesty and decorum!) We need to push back on unjustified conclusions drawn upon empirical data from things archeologists dig up.  At the same time, we need to add Technicolor to a black and white past. Our history deserves to be enhanced with a new awareness of how the ancients lived. They were so much like us its funny. Therefore, we need to grow captivated by history. In essence, we especially need to reanimate antiquity.

History is undertaught in secular schools. And for anyone who is familiar with my books, they know that most of what we were taught was not only wrong, it was carelessly or crookedly made intentionally wrong. That is, whether wittingly or not, our instructors fed us false lines, fake stories, and clouded our minds with pabulum. It appears that since no child could be left behind, we all missed the bus. Our children are incredibly dumb when it comes to the truth about what happened in days gone by.  I know, I teach college kids. Lots of them. They are smart about many things, but they don’t know much about anything that happened before the Kardashians and Kanye. The system has failed us.  It has especially failed them.

When it comes to what we were taught in Sunday School (as kids and adults), our understanding of the Bible is fraught with incalculable inaccuracies.  There are many reasons why this is so. We are guilty of:

  • Sticking with poor translations of the biblical text that have trapped us into gross errors about what the Bible really says (or said when it was first written);
  • Ignoring the findings of archeology like the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Ugaritic Texts – and not allowing them to inform our beliefs about the Bible;
  • Having an anti-intellectual bias that implicates science and careful exegesis. We call knowledge dangerous and blind faith virtuous;
  • Professing a super-spiritual persona built upon the false premise that we only need one book – the Bible – to be informed on all matters of faith and practice. We might not burn books, but we shamelessly ignore them. We have become practicing illiterates.
  • Maintaining an unwillingness to accept that what we believe is hopelessly out of date (and maybe it is also because it was wrong in the first place).
  • Ascribing canonical status to apocryphal and pseudepigrapha works outside the biblical canon (which can be helpful, but also blatantly wrong – examples forthcoming);
  • Listening to modern myths cleverly crafted by intellectuals imbued with authority because they star on the History Channel; indeed, are most often featured on shows about ancient aliens.

In other words, our understanding of the past – antiquity, to be specific – is way off. That’s why this book has found its way into your hands. It’s time to set the record straight. To get us all on the same page. It’s time we get excited about exploring the unfamiliar. The truth is out there– but we won’t find it if we stay “in here” where our sacred beliefs are safe and immune to disproof.

Where We Must Go

To reexamine the days of yesteryear, the times long since passed, we need to go back in time – way back in time. For we who label ourselves evangelicals, we should follow some sound advice from Broadway. “Let’s start at the very beginning, it’s a very good place to start” (Julie Andrews as Maria von Trapp from The Sound of Music),

How far back am I talking about? All the way back to Genesis, chapter one. That far back.

For the most part in this book, our focus will be on the first eleven chapters of Genesis. We will touch on what happened at the beginning of the Bible’s story (Genesis means beginnings) and consider whether this planet started spinning less than 10,000 years ago. Some other great questions await:

  1. Did Adam and Eve once live in a spot called Eden? Yes, they did. So, we will explore where Eden might have been when it was still a garden spot.
  2. We will talk about Cain and Abel and what Cain did after he did his brother in.
  3. Then comes a genealogy. Genealogies turn out to be a very important part of getting our story straight. We will learn about the first ten generations.
  4. We will ask why the world’s patriarchs were such long livers until things began to change about the same time Noah appears on the scene.
  5. At God’s direction, we recall that Noah builds that giant ark (300 cubits long, 50 cubits wide, and 30 cubits high) through which he and his family weathers the world’s most dreadful perfect storm.But, since the world’s population (both human and animal, birds included) outside the ark was reset to zero, does it really mean that we can call Noah granddad?
  6. Noah and his kids subsequently restart humanity yet again. That part of the story remains especially important because most Christians still don’t know why God went to the extreme to destroy all land life on the earth. The background to “why the flood” is unlike anything we can imagine except in our worst nightmare. It involves chimera and giants, angels corrupting the human genome, and demons appearing for the first time while being sanctioned to harass and deceive humanity. Happily, at this point, I can rely on some great help from a real scholar or two that will get us over the speed bump we know as “The Incredible Hybrid Humans, the Nephilim.”
  7. Next, once the ark is grounded, we see the father of humanity Noah grows a vineyard, drinks too much wine, has his son Ham take advantage of the situation (one of the more controversial episodes of the Bible’s flood account), and as a result Noah curses his grandson Canaan, commencing brotherly conflict to last through the ages.
  8. Then we will take up the man, the myth, the legend we call Nimrod. Yes, he was a real live historical figure, and we can spot him amidst the annals of the past as constructed by the ongoing secular archeology conducted in Iraq (between the Euphrates and the Tigris).  Was Nimrod the first “transhuman?” What difference does it make if he was?
  9. We will finally find out whether or not Nimrod was, in fact, the rabble-rouser that led to the Tower of Babel incident.
  10. Likewise, we will touch on whether he is but an archetype or will, in fact, reappear at the end of days as the one and only live and in person embodiment of Antichrist. Like Lovecraft’s Cthulhu who lay in wait in the depths of the sea, does Nimrod lurk in the bottomless pit until his time has come to haunt humanity again?
  11. We will then jump back to explore the so-called “table of nations” in Genesis, chapter ten. From its contents, we will see where everybody went after God enforced his order to multiply and replenish the earth (it seems humans were being rather clannish and didn’t want to disperse, thinking they had a better chance to make a name for themselves if they hung together). It seems that the LORD had to force the issue by confusing the languages of humankind so that they would quarrel amongst themselves, get in big dustups then split up, heading for the hills – literally – scattering them to and fro over God’s green earth.
  12. Meanwhile, almost 1,000 years later (fans of the Book of Jasherwon’t like my proposed true biblical chronology), back in Sumer near Uruk, God’s makes his monumental call to Abraham. Recall that Abram was Abraham’s original handle before El, Yahweh’s original handle, got ahold of him in the infamous Ur of the even more infamous Chaldees. This is where the story of the Bible really gets going. But it’s where we will stop in our biblical exploration because by then, we will have realigned, reaffirmed, and hopefully reanimated antiquity. The past really can be enthralling.
The Great Ziggurat of Ur

First Things First

However, before we study what this author equates as the executive summary of the first 4,000 years of human history, – that is, the first eleven chapters of Genesis – we must do what Bible scholars call textual criticism.In other words, to uncover what the Bible really said about antiquity in those initial chapters of Genesis, we must check our sources to find out what the original writer actually said about the timing of humanity’s origin.

Call me curious, but I want to know (and I think you will too) how many years ago it was for a slew of events: when God breathed life into Adam, when the flood of Noah happened, how many years after the flood elapsed before the Tower of Babel transpired in Shinar, and then how many more sun rises and sun sets it was before Abraham becomes the most prominent forebear of the people of Israel and Judah – that is, “the man with the plan,” the focus of the redemption story.

You see, to get the timing right we must do some real investigative work to learn about the Vorlage, the earliest text of the Old Testament as assembled (most likely) by Ezra and Nehemiah around 450 BCE. For it is from the Vorlage that the Greek version of the Old Testament, the Septuagint (abbreviated LXX for the 70 scholars who supposedly did the translation from the original Hebrew into Greek) about 285 BCE.  Why? Vital to our thesis, the chronology of the Septuagint differs dramatically from the Masoretic Text (MT) which began to be compiled about 400 years later (around 105 AD), culminating in the final version of the Hebrew Bible.

You will be stunned just how captivating the story gets.  It’s a story almost none of us know.  And those that do, don’t seem to appreciate why it’s so important.

Indeed, it comprises a dramatic story of intrigue because, as we will learn, the MT was intentionally corrupted by a big number of Jewish Rabbis because the LXX made too strong a case for Jesus being the Messiah. Plus, the Septuagint had become the favorite Bible of the Christians and so the Jews in the diaspora (the dispersion of Jews beginning about 700 BCE) needed their own Greek bible without such explicit prophecies about the Messiah coming down from heaven in a body prepared for him. (Psalm __). By this time, most Jews throughout the world did not understand Hebrew.  Additionally, the LXX was unacceptable to the surviving Hebrews after the Bar Kokhba rebellion (135 BCE) because there was a conspiracy, led by Rabbi Akiva, to make another man  (Bar Kokhba) the Messiah and rid the world of the aberrant cult known as Christianity. Even if Bar Kokhba was dead and buried. After all, so was Jesus (we know better – “Up from the grave he arose!”)

Unfortunately, we will have to address the fact that the King James Version is based upon the Masoretic Text, the MT, and therefore, the chronology of the KJV is wrong along with a number of watered down prophecies concerning the Messiah that were reworded to obfuscate (not entirely, but substantially) the identity of the coming Christ. If this raises your ire, please wait. The whole story needs to be told before you throw this book against the wall in disgust; or the other extreme, you make an anti-Semitic statement you’ll regret later.

As you will see, the Septuagint also serves to untangle a number of messes made by the KJV’s faulty chronology.  And the LXX’s chronology is confirmed by the Samaritan Pentateuch,[1] the Dead Sea Scrolls, and Josephus’ testimony in his Antiquities of the Jews. “Your honor, Exhibits 1, 2 and 3!” (They will be presented to you too in good time.)

“When a true genius appears, you can know him by this sign: that all the dunces are aligned in a conspiracy against him.” (Jonathan Swift)

Just for the record, right up front, let me affirm that I believe in biblical inerrancy, Moses’ authorship of the Pentateuch (see footnote below), and the value of the King James Version as perhaps the most influential book in the Western world of all time. Tens of millions have been saved by the Gospel as presented in its pages. However, given that the Septuagint was the Bible of the Christian Church for its first 400 years, that it is quoted 80% of the time by the gospel writers, [2] the apostles (especially Paul of Tarsus – no meanHebrew – although there was a time when the Galatians didn’t think that (see Galatians 1:6-9), and its credentials include being over 1,000 years closer to the original autographs (this assertion will also be demonstrated later), the Septuagint should at least hold equal status to the KJV.  And, in many cases, the LXX should be considered much more reliable, (notwithstanding the challenges the original translators faced taking Hebrew idioms into turning them into “good Greek”). Yiddish may be hard to understand. But ancient Hebrew gave the Greek translators fits.

Once we have built the foundation that the Bible’s chronology after it is correctly established, we can begin to engage in a dialogue with modern critics of the Bible who challenge its authenticity and accuracy. Furthermore, we can begin to align biblical chronology with the valuable science of archeology and its countless discoveries in Mesopotamia, Egypt, Israel, and elsewhere.  Finally, we can then intelligently consider other possible explorations of “pre-history” although we will not spend all that much time on semi-deified spacemen as the cause of these “effects.” (See the author’s book, Lying Wonders of the Red Planet: Exposing the Lie of Ancient Aliens, for an exposé on what’s wrong with this particularly pesky new myth for denying the biblical account of the LORD God being maker of heaven and earth as well as our need for the message of the Gospel.)

In fact, we shouldn’t stop with the chronology of the Bible. For apologetic reasons, we must press on with an open mind and our disbelief suspended.  There is much to be said about theories of ancient civilizations that occupied our blue planet pre-dating most of what Moses told us in Genesis, chapter one. It should be noted, however, that the book will move at that point from the realm of biblical fact into the realm of speculation as the author seeks to interpret the meaning of what I will label “pre-history.”

Alternative History and the Origin of Homo Sapiens Sapiens

Depending upon what we believe about the possibility we aren’t the first highly advanced civilization on this blue globe, the third rock from the sun, we need to consider the purported artifacts from pre-history with more than a little respect. Admittedly, pop-archeology is over-hyped and commercially publicized to ridiculous lengths. Furthermore, and unfortunately, it is wedded to speculation about extraterrestrials. Additionally, it’s important to recognize (as I’ve commented above) that the marriage of extraterrestrials and the myths of antiquity offer an alternative to theism.  My pejorative name for this modern religion is “The Gospel According to ET.” This replacement of God with creator spacemen named Enlil and Enki hailing from Planet X (aka Nibiru, as put forth by the late author Zecharia Sitchin) does not logically follow from the artifacts discovered so far by archeology, despite the widely touted views expressed by “ancient astronaut theorists.”

But the terrestrial findings of many respected scientists, who literally get their hands dirty, don’t necessarily seek to replace the God of Heaven with “gods from the stars.” There have been some incredible discoveries over the past several decades which are rewriting what we know about ancient times.  Curiously, these discoveries suggest startling possibilities that appear to precede biblical chronology by 3,000 to 5,000 years – even after we make adjustments to the conventional chronology most evangelicals often take for granted, a chronology based on the MT and the commonly revered work of Bishop James Ussher (1581-1656). [3] These findings don’t necessarily conflict with the biblical chronology. And we can discuss them here, not dogmatically, but rationally. There are a number of potential scenarios to consider.  This will be taken up in detail later.

Nevertheless, it’s significant that a whole lot of digging has been going on since the science of archeology began. And what’s been dug up has radically changed our knowledge of the past. Plus, it has big implications on the religious texts to which we ascribe sacred status. Archeology, digging up the past, offers empirical evidence to confirm what texts from antiquity tell us. [4]  Consequently, they are very important.  And unless we are inclined to dismiss such findings out of hand due to one of the reasons highlighted at the outset of this introduction, Christian scholarship should attempt to find a way to reconcile these discoveries with biblical testimony. We must dialogue with our culture. We must earnestly contend for the faith. (Jude 3)

Ironically, archelogy’s story starts with Babylon’s last king, Nabonidus (556 BCE to 539 BCE), who commenced a program to repair the ancient temples in Mesopotamia. Nabonidus wanted to identify with the past Babylonian glories (just like Saddam Hussein with his Muslim hero from the time of the Crusades, Saladin). I said ironically, so let me explain. First, Nabonidus son was Belshazzar. Yes, that Belshazzar, who toasted his guests with the chalices from the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem. [5] His crassness so upset a certain LORD we Christians and Jews worship, that Belshazzar witnessed the “handwriting on the walls.” As if that wasn’t enough entertainment for the evening, the host’s knees knocked, and (so Daniel recounts) he soiled his britches out of sheer terror. Again, cruder terms apply, but my father (still with us at 99) objects to vulgar language. So I will stick with the antiquated expression.

But back to Nabonidus. Nabonidus was co-regent with his son Belshazzar.  For many years, unbelievers criticized the biblical account claiming that Belshazzar did not exist in historical records.  However, it was eventually uncovered – thanks to those archeologists – that the host was one-half of the father-son duo responsible for the downfall of the Neo-Babylonian Empire. It turns out, Nabonidus was away from Babylon as the Medes and Persians snuck under the city walls. While the banquet raged and the band played on (not sure what instruments were being used then), the Media-Persian King Cyrus conquered Nabonidus’ empire without firing a shot. (Excuse me, that’s an anachronism. Without shooting an arrow.)  It seems Nabonidus was always away from home. He was searching for some new artifact that could further enhance his claim to fame. But this time his absence to satiate his ego cost him dearly. In this instance, his trekking about “between the two rivers” (the meaning of Mesopotamia) as the world’s first archeologist was ill-advised and horribly timed. As so many parents learn when they leave the house, kids throw wild parties. And Belshazzar holds the record for achieving the most disastrous consequences ever for turning his father’s house into an unauthorized bash for friends.

However, we still must put modern searches into antiquity into proper perspective. That is, the empirical data is so compelling we must admit something’s up.  And, as I will share with you later, once we learn what it’s truly all about, it could strengthen what we believe about biblical history and open our minds to look at other convincing reasons to believe. In so doing, we may be able to create an apologetic means to interest scientists and researchers outside the biblical fold to rethink their opposition to the Christian message and embrace Jesus Christ as savior. Can you dig it? We hope those who focus on ancient archeology can.

Conclusion

Just a taste of what is to come: Gobekli Tepe in Turkey dates to 10,000 BCE. The pyramids and the Sphinx at Giza, while dated by establishment academics and Egyptologists to the early dynastic period of Egypt, circa 2560 BCE, offer strong evidence that they may have been built long before the flood, perhaps dating to the same timeframe as Gobekli Tepe. Plus, we read at least a half-dozen times a year, that yet another pyramid has been discovered in a faraway place with a strange sounding name,[6] in some cases larger than the Giza pyramids. Their meaning continues to escape those who study them, who opt for the ludicrous explanation that they were Pharaonic tombs. All that work for a place to bury a body?  Even the Pharaoh’s body? And then, we learn that the body is missing? No mummy? No sarcophagus?  A reasonable person from any age (but apparently not a Ph.D. in our times) would say that providing a reason like that for the pyramids is incredulous if not idiotic. There must be a whole lot more to it than that. And I agree. The real “Pyramidiots” are not Graham Hancock and Robert Bauval [7] – as they have been disgracefully described by academics that cling to the simplest and weakest explanation demonstrating so little imagination. But exactly what might they have been intended to do?

“The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination.” (Albert Einstein)

In short, the purpose of both of these monuments appears to embody knowledge to pass down from one civilization to the next anticipating that the destruction of their civilization may be imminent (Hancock would be one example). However, this semi-benign rationale doesn’t satisfy another alternative historian, Joseph P. Farrell, who argues the Giza site resembles a military array with the oldest and grandest pyramid of Giza a weapon of mass destruction from a not so friendly very high civilization an eon ago. [8] Absurd?  Perhaps, but it may add to the story of the Bible in a surprising way.

Additionally, scores of cities lie under hundreds of feet of water exist just offshore in the Mediterranean, in Japan, and in the Caribbean near Cuba. As I awoke today, another ancient submerged city was purportedly discovered off the coast of Portugal (April 28, 2018). Evidence mounts that the cradle of civilization we call the Fertile Crescent in Mesopotamia may not be the location of the first advanced civilization. Zep Tepi (“the first time”) as the ancient Egyptians called it. The most ancient civilization without a direct tie to biblical history may not be in Mesopotamia. [9]  Indeed, all of these civilizations which occupy so much interest in popular culture today may be legacies, in some elements, to what came before. I will argue just that but will attempt to reconcile my theory to the history of our race as conveyed in the Bible.

It is, therefore, possible, in my view, that there was an advanced civilization on earth before Adam awoke to find Eve by his side (along with a massive pain in his ribs from whence she was sprung by the world’s first surgeon – our LORD that is – without any instruments of course).

Admittedly, this amounts to some “high octane speculation” as author Joseph P. Farrell calls it. However, as we walk through the sequence of events and the evidence provided through archeology, despite what they may opine about their discoveries and what they ascribe about timing and meaning, we must give it serious thought.  For it’s possible we may be able to reconcile the Bible and new theories about ancient civilizations, bringing new life to a combined biblical and natural history of the hominids [10] who once lived on our planet.

And just maybe, this discussion will deliver on the promise of my book’s title: to reanimate antiquity – at least a most interesting portion of it. And, in the process, to those who study Bible prophecy and look to the future, this might enable me to better point to where we are heading, as we venture closer and closer to the return of Jesus Christ to rule and reign on this earth, no matter how long-ago humanity first appeared in Eden, or on the plains of Shinar, or anywhere else for that matter.

 


Notes

[1]The Pentateuch consists of the first five books of the Bible: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. Scholarship varies widely upon authorship and the timing of when it was written. Tradition holds it was Moses.  Liberal scholars believe it was created during the Babylonian captivity circa 600 BCE. The Samaritan Pentateuch requires much more explanation and will be discussed in the chapter dealing with the Septuagint’s chronology.

[2]This comment should be clarified.  The Vorlage, the Hebrew Text behind the Septuagint translation, is included in this statement.  Matthew, for instance, cites a Hebrew source that corresponds to the Septuagint version, indicating that it was the Vorlage Text being cited, not the version of the text that became the Masoretic Text.

[3]Ussher’s chronology is the backbone of the argument advanced in prophetic circles frequented by this author that the world is 6,000 years old, that Christ will return and reign in the seventh millennium (hence, any day now!) This chronology will be discussed in depth later. The chronology developed from the Septuagint will add a significant additional timespan, solving a number of thorny timing issues in the process arising from inconsistencies within the MT upon which Ussher (and many other evangelical chronologies) have been based.

[4]This is not to miss the point that most archeologists, while they do not adopt ancient astronaut theory, are hardly inclined to let biblical texts guide their interpretation of what they discover.

[5]The Temple treasure and the vessels used in the Temple was brought to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar when he destroyed Solomon’s Temple in 586 BCE.

[6]Lyrics from an old song, covered by Sam Cooke: “Faraway places with strange sounding names – Faraway over the sea – Those faraway places with strange sounding names – Are calling, calling me.”

[7]These are perhaps the two most well-known “alternative” researcher/writers who have offered alternative perspectives we will consider as serious possibilities.

[8]Farrell, Joseph P. The Giza Death Star, Adventures Unlimited Press, 254 pages, 2001.

[9]Mei, Armando.  36,400 BC: The historical time of the Zep Tepi theory. Ancient Origins. Retrieved April 28, 2018, from http://www.ancient-origins.net/ancient-places-africa/36400-bc-historical-time-zep-tepi-theory-002617.

[10]A hominid is “a primate of a family (Hominidae) that includes humans and their fossil ancestors and also (in recent systems) at least some of the great apes.” (Oxford Dictionary) This word is chosen intentionally, but do not think for a moment it means to imply I believe in evolution as the means for the origin of Homo sapiens sapiens.  This will become obvious all in good time.


 

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