The Case against
Studying or Teaching the Hebrew Bible:
- Why worship a Jewish God at a Jewish altar?
- Why elevate this book, the Hebrew Bible, above all others? What happened to the Iliad, the Odyssey and the Aeneid, the classics of old?
- Two thirds of the 7 billion people on planet Earth do not share the "The Hebrew Bible that so pervades Western culture" reasoning line. Why be exclusionists?
- Why should Westerners shoot themselves in the foot and cheer the downfall and demise of the Egyptian, Hellenistic and Roman Empires, the wellspring of Western civilization (see the Book of Daniel et al.)? Pathetic!
- Why would the conquest of Canaan (or any other victory by the Jews) so violently described in the Hebrew Bible (Joshua:8:25-27) be something to root for? I am a pacifist Etruscan and as such I have as much love for the Canaanites as he would for the Jewish people. Shouldn't a real universal god feel and act likewise? During World War I, the Germans went to war with Gott mit uns (God is with us) on their belt buckles and on the other side the French and British clergy were also blessing their troops. Besides what kind of god is YHWH that cannot give an uncontested Promised Land of Milk and Honey to his Chosen People thereby avoiding all the troubles? This is the selfsame god that in Genesis 4:3-5 "And the Lord had respect unto Abel and to his offering..." Wouldn't a real god like both offerings equally? Why like Abel's fat, blood and animal sacrifices more than Cain's fruits and vegetables of the earth and why engender animosity between brothers? Not to mention collective punishment and cruelty to animals (Joshua:6:21). Are we to believe that the Jewish people are more important than innocent Egyptian children (Exodus:13:15)? Given the above and the intensity by which YHWH cheers on his people to kill (Numbers:21:34-35), why should I adopt YHWH as my god? In the endless game of tit for tat that humanity seems to like to play, would it make the killing of Jews justifiable then? Even the Holocaust?
- The roots of Western civilization are Greco-Roman not Judeo-Christian. Democracy was invented at the Areopagus in Athens, Greece and rule of law and civil engineering by the Roman Empire. Watch the current travails of the European Constitution in trying to define its roots.
- The Hebrew Bible is not that original. Actually plagiarism is quite the norm:
- The creation of earth (Genesis:1:1-31)? Among many, both the Babylonian and the ancient Egyptian creation myths begin with swirling, chaotic waters.
- Before there were Adam and Eve there were the male Apsu and female Tiamat and any ancient theogony.
- Cain and Abel (Genesis:4:1-16)? Seth and his brother Osiris.
- Noah's tale (Genesis:6:1)? In the Epic of Gilgamesh.
It is funny how Judeo-Christians accept the Noah flood as literal truth but dismiss the the epic of Gilgamesh as fable. Zeus was no less real to the ancient Greeks.
- The Tower of Babel (Genesis:11:4)? In the Sumerian myth of Enmerkar and the Lord of Aratta.
- YHWH's Covenant with Abraham and Jacob (Genesis. 9:17, 15:18, 17:2, 17:7, Ex. 19:5, Deut. 29:1, 29:9, et al.)? Early seventh-century Assyrian vassal treaties that outline the rights and obligations of subject people to their sovereign, that is Assyria.
- Before there was Job there was Sinuhe the Egyptian.
- Moses abandoned in the river (Exodus:2:3)? King Sargon of Akkad (and Romulus and Remus)
- Moses receiving the Ten Commandments (Exodus:19:21)? Hammurabi receiving the laws from his god Shamash (in 1750 BCE) and before that we have the Sumerian Ur-Nammu's code (ca. 2100-2050 BCE)!
- The Ten Commandments (Exodus:20:1-26)? In the declarations to Rekhti-merti-f-ent-Ma'at and the 42 negative confessions listed in the ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead as the Papyrus of Ani.
- Before there was the virgin Mary there were Cybele, Gaia, Rhea, all the Earth Mothers, etc...
- Before there was the zombie Jesus of Nazareth there were Osiris, Attis, Bacchus, Dionysus, etc...
- Before there was the cross there was the ankh (Egyptian crux ansata).
- Before there was Christmas there was Saturnalia and Lupercalia.
- Before there was Easter there were the Rites of Spring and Persephone's return from Hades.
- Before there was the Christian Trinity there were the Egyptian Amun, Ra and Ptah (and before that the Sumerian Anu, Enlil and Enki and the Hindu Brahma Shiva and Vishnu?)
- Before there was the Chosen People's version of monotheism there was the Egyptian Pharaoh Akhenaten who worshipped only one god, the Aten. But all the polytheistic myths end up with one overlord like Zeus for instance and YHWH has all of those cherubim, seraphim, archangels, angels, etc...
- There never was a slavery in Egypt but there is the Papyrus of the Strike (the strike at Deir el Medina under Ramses III).
Those are the easy examples of things that came to light only in the last hundred years. The stele of Hammurabi's code is in the Louvre, Paris, France and the Papyrus of Ani at the British Museum in London, England for all to see. Moses' tablets exist only in the fantasy of the chroniclers of the Hebrew Bible on par with the Mormons' Gold Tablets. Who knows how many other "borrowings" (antecedents) from more ancient and preceding civilizations there are in the "divine revelation" of the Hebrew Bible?
As sacred texts go, is there any difference between the Egyptian Book of the Dead and the Hebrew Bible as far as style is concerned?
Denying divine revelation status to the Hebrew Bible is not
denying faith or god! The fact is all civilizations preceding, contemporary and following the 500-300 BCE time frame the Hebrew Bible was composed had organized religions with their myths, high priests and devoted followers. Rome had a Pontifex Maximus long before the Hebrew Bible and Christianity were established.
If Jesus of Nazareth as a sacrificial lamb is required by some believers for the salvation of mankind, wouldn't Osiris and/or Dionysus also do? Myth for myth, would His former Holiness Benedict XVI now write a book on Dionysus of Naxos instead of Jesus of Nazareth? Instead of the fabulist rants of Jewish hicks the melodies of sophisticated Greeks?
Instead of teaching the parochial, sectarian and distorted point of view of the Hebrew Bible, why not teach universal
morality and ethics? I am sure lots of other texts would qualify. Convene a new Septuagint? Commission our best inspirational, motivational and spiritual writers to produce text and they will be divinely
Parallel with Christianity
A group of deities with closely related characteristics had already been in existence for centuries prior to the advent of Jesus. They were most notably males, demigods, born of virgins, underwent life-death-rebirth cycles and had redeeming powers for mankind. To describe them, the term Osiris-Dionysus is used.
By the Hellenic era, Greek awareness of Osiris had grown, and attempts were made to merge this cult with that of Dionysus (the Bacchus of the Romans). The result was in a new mystery religion where the myth of the resurrection was paramount. Gradually this mystery religion spread to other parts of the Greek sphere of influence.
It is possible that this mythology later found its way into Christianity. Among the many similarities between Jesus and Osiris-Dionysus, the Christian notion of consuming "the flesh" and "blood" of Jesus is also shared by these cults and their followers could also commonly be "possessed" by these deities, go into trances and speak in tongues.
Actually there is a big difference between Jesus and the other old myths of Death and Resurrection by gods. In all these myths the god was done in by other gods which is impossible to do if only one god is postulated ergo mankind's role in the execution on the behalf of whom the deed had to be carried out. But given the Trinity it could have been a conspiracy between the Father and the Holy Ghost... Bah! A god who sacrificed himself on mankind's behalf. Really? What kind of sacrifice is it when he resurrected (sic) three days later? Why three days and not two or four? Is it a god or a zombie? And wouldn't a god know the future already?
Embrace Humanism instead.