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Your antidote to cyber-twaddle and misguided research about the ancient world. Lots of people do research on the mysteries of antiquity. Some insights are valuable; others are insanely stupid. PaleoBabble exists because insisting that conclusions be drawn from data is a coherent idea, because conjecture isn’t evidence, and because appealing to conspiracy to validate ideas is intellectually lazy.

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Ben Carson and the Pyramids

Posted by on Nov 11, 2015 in _NakedBible, _Paleobabble, Bible and Archaeology, Biblical History, Bogus History, Hebrew Bible | 17 comments

James Tabor has a short, interesting piece over on the Huffington Post about where Dr. Ben Carson’s idea that the pyramids were the storehouses Joseph built to hold grain. It’s worth a read, though I have some correctives to offer to both Drs. Tabor and Carson.

First, there is this statement by Tabor:

What the mainstream “progressive secularist” media, as Carson labels it, does not realize is that such ideas are quite common among mainstream Evangelical/Fundamentalist Christian circles–connected to theories about how biblical archaeology confirms the Bible’s historical reliability. Dr. Carson’s assertion at the 1998 Andrews University graduation ceremony speaks for itself and is totally within the parameters of the commonly held views of history, archaeology, and biblical “literalism.”

My own initial exposure to Christianity came as a teenager. My context was the fundamentalism Tabor notes in the above quotation. I was part of that through high school and my college years. Not once did I ever hear the idea that Joseph built the pyramids. Consequently, while I’m guessing you could find some fundamentalist pastors or believers who’d say such a thing, it’s simply wrong to imply that biblical literalism leads to this demonstrably false idea. And as far as evangelicals go, I know of no evangelical scholar who would affirm Carson’s idea — and I know a lot of them. Many of them in fact take the mainstream “late” date of the chronology of the exodus (13th century B.C., nowhere near Joseph; see below). But having said that, some biblical literalists would say such this — but not because the Bible teaches it (there is no biblical mention of the pyramids, for example). They believe it because a preacher said it at some point.

Second, I’m light years from being a “progressive secularist” (Dr. Carson’s label for those who dispute his belief), but Dr. Carson’s idea is bogus — not only because of Egyptological data, but biblical literalism contradicts it. Since I know something about the biblical-archaeological tradition at  Andrews University (an Adventist school – Carson’s tradition), I’d challenge him to produce one Adventist OT scholar who agrees with him.

Demonstrating the fallacy of Carson’s belief isn’t difficult. First we need to establish the Bible’s own chronology. Following that, we need only to synchronize the Bible’s chronology with that of ancient Egypt. The chronology can be reconstructed as follows, taking all the biblical numbers literally for the sake of our discussion:

From Abraham to the end of Joseph’s life

  • Abraham was 75 when he left Haran to journey to Canaan (Gen 12:4)
  • 25 years later, Abraham and Sarah had Isaac (Gen 21:5); Abraham was then 100
  • 60 years later (Isaac was 60), Jacob was born (Gen 25:26)
  • 130 years later, Jacob is found in Egypt under the care of Joseph (Gen 49:7)
  • Jacob dies 17 years later at the age of 147 (Gen 47:28); Joseph is still is Egypt (Gen 48-50)
  • Consequently, from the time Abraham left Haran to the end of Jacob’s life (and the height of Joseph’s influence), 307 years elapsed. Adding 75 to this number to move backward to Abraham’s birth, we get 382 years from the birth of Abraham to the death of Jacob (and toward the end of Joseph’s time in Egypt).

From Joseph to the Exodus under Moses

We are told in Exodus 12:40 that the Israelite sojourn in Egypt lasted 430 years (Exod 12:40). Since God had said in Gen. 15:13 that Israel would be enslaved in Egypt for 400 years, not 430, the difference is taken by many scholars to indicate that the bondage in Egypt began thirty years after Jacob arrived in Egypt. Given the previous information, if this suggestion (about the 430) by scholars is correct, Joseph lived thirteen years more in Egypt after Jacob died.

The last forty years of the 430 year period noted in Exod. 12:40 would have been the time Moses lived in Egypt, since Acts 7:23 puts him at the age of forty when he ran afoul of Pharaoh and had to flee Egypt. Exodus 7:7 and Acts 7:30 establish the fact that forty years after Moses had fled Egypt he returned, having been commissioned by God to demand that Pharaoh give the Israelites their freedom. After leading the Israelites out of Egypt, Moses lived another forty years—the period of the wilderness wandering—and died at the age of 120 (Deut. 29:5; 31:2; 34:7).

So we can now summarize three important observations of biblical time:

  • From the birth of Abraham to the death of Jacob = 382 years
  • ca. 13 years after Jacob died, Joseph died.
  • The Israelite bondage period occurred from the time Joseph died until the exodus—400 years (Gen 15:13)

The Key Passage and the Key Egyptian Synchronism

The key passage in bridging the time from the exodus into the time of Israel’s kings is 1 Kings 6:1. It tells us that the fourth year of Solomon’s reign was the 480th anniversary of the exodus from Egypt. The beginning of Solomon’s reign can be reliably dated to 970 B.C., making the 480th anniversary of the exodus 966 B.C. Adding 480 years (backward in time) from 966 B.C. gives us 1446 B.C. for the date of the exodus, per a literal reading of all these numbers (this date is the “early” date for the exodus). Adding (again backward in time) the 400 years of Egypt’s enslavement (Gen 15:13) to 1446 B.C. gives us a date of 1846 B.C. for Joseph’s death. Since Joseph lived 110 years (Gen. 50:22), his lifespan would work out to 1956 B.C. – 1846 B.C.

And that’s the problem. The pyramids in Egypt were built during the Old Kingdom in Egypt (when Khufu—namesake of the Great Pyramid—reigned as pharaoh). The Old Kingdom era in Egypt dates from 2649 B.C. – 2150 B.C. (Khufu’s reign was ca. 2589-2566 B.C.). The pyramids were standing centuries before Joseph was ever born. According to the biblical numbers above, they were standing well before Abraham was born.

How do we know Egyptian chronology with certainty? The short answer is astronomical correlations with celestial observations in Egyptian texts and ancient Egyptian king lists that record the reign lengths of the pharaohs.

It is important to note that the biblical and Egyptian chronologies have synchronisms that make the correlation of the two histories possible. The most famous is the identification of the Egyptian king Shishak, whose life overlapped with Solomon (1 Kings 11:40; 14:25), with the pharaoh Sheshonq (943-922 B.C.). (Some scholars dispute this correlation, but rejecting this correlation makes the case for Joseph being in the pyramid age worse, not better).

The bottom line is that, if one accepts the biblical record at face value, what Dr. Carson believes about the pyramids is impossible—according to the Bible’s own numbers. So biblical literalism, contra Dr. Tabor, will not produce what Carson believes. Nevertheless, some biblical literalists will believe this sort of thing. But that’s because they are ignorant of how the Bible undermines the idea.


Ancient Aliens: The Perfect Picture

Posted by on Nov 11, 2015 in _Paleobabble, _UFOreligions, Ancient Astronauts, Humor | 0 comments

Hat tip to Leyla for sending this to me. It needs no description. Just perfect (even the hair/fur).


New Research on Nibiru Shows Sitchin is Still Wrong

Posted by on Oct 26, 2015 in _Paleobabble, _UFOreligions, Ancient Astronauts, Ancient Texts, ExoTheology | 6 comments

I recently received this short note in email about some work done in the cuneiform sources regarding Nibiru:

Dear Dr. Heiser,

I have analyzed the extant cuneiform evidence in the peer-reviewed publication “The Marduk Star Nebiru” (CDLI Bulletin 2015:3).
I conclude that the hypothesis that the name Nēbiru may be assigned to any visible astronomical object that marks an equinox is supported by cuneiform evidence.   It is clear to me  that Zechariah Sitchin was confused by earlier translations.
Immanuel Freedman, Ph.D. SMIEEE
Member, International Association for Assyriology
CDLI = Cuneiform Digital Library Initiative at UCLA.  The article / PDF at the above link is their bulletin. It’s only four pages, and of course verifies what I posted many years ago, that cuneiform tablets do not have Nibiru as a 12th planet beyond Pluto.
My thanks to Dr. Freedman for this notification and link!


The Mystery of Coral Castle Solved (No Levitation, Antigravity, or Aliens Needed)

Posted by on Oct 9, 2015 in _Paleobabble, Ancient (Non-Alien) Technology, Cult Archaeology | 5 comments

Once you see the home videos of its creator doing the work, the mystery evaporates. Nothing supernatural or advanced for its own time. Just simple, well-known tools and engineering.

The structures aren’t ancient, but the same sort of paleobabbling “explanations” used for Coral Castle are used for those structures, too. Enjoy!

Kudos to Chris White once again. Chris is the guy who created the free, three-hour documentary, Ancient Aliens Debunked, of which I was a part. Give that a watch, too (nearly five million people already have).


GAIAM TV Interview with Mike about the Biblical Prophets and Prophecy

Posted by on Sep 24, 2015 in _Paleobabble, Biblical History, Eschatology (End Times) | 2 comments

GAIAM TV just sent me a link to the show episode.  There’s a preview you can watch, but the episode isn’t free (this isn’t YouTube).

Keep in mind this interview with George Noory was for folks with little to no background on the Bible of biblical prophecy, and no theological / religious commitment was presumed. In other words, this is the normal Coast to Coast AM audience, which ranges far and wide, from what confessional Christians would call New Age spirituality to no religious inclination at all.

One trivia note: I had to do the interview without glasses. That was a first. Felt awkward (I could see George, but he was basically amorphous – my eyesight is terrible).

Mike Heiser introduces Prophets of the Old Testament with George Noory on Beyond Belief!

Interview on Conspirinormal on the Unseen Realm

Posted by on Sep 24, 2015 in _NakedBible, _Paleobabble, Biblical Theology, divine council, Unseen Realm | 26 comments

This was my second time on Conspirinormal. This one spends a little time on items in The Unseen Realm, but actually jumps around on a lot of topics.

Graham Hancock’s Magicians of the Gods: A Review

Posted by on Sep 21, 2015 in _Paleobabble, Ancient Legends, archaeology, Bogus History, Cult Archaeology, Folklore and Mythology | 6 comments

I encourage all of you to read Jason Colavito’s lengthy review of Hancock’s latest tome devoted to alternative history. But if you want the short version, Colavito offers this summary thought:

Speaking as someone who found Fingerprints of the Gods to be entertaining and engaging, even when it was wrong, I can say that Magicians of the Gods is not a good book by either the standards of entertainment or science. It is Hancock at his worst: angry, petulant, and slipshod. Hancock assumes readers have already read and remembered all of his previous books going back decades, and his new book fails to stand on its own either as an argument or as a piece of literature. It is an update and an appendix masquerading as a revelation. This much is evident from the amount of material Hancock asks readers to return to Fingerprints to consult, and the number of references—bad, secondary ones—he copies wholesale from the earlier book, or cites directly to himself in that book.

I hope you all won’t settle for that, as Jason’s review includes some telling observations and critique of Hancock’s sources and method.

Review of Edited Volume of Papers Delivered at Jerusalem Conference on the Alleged Jesus Family Tomb

Posted by on Sep 9, 2015 in _NakedBible, _Paleobabble, Ancient Legends, Ancient Sites, Ancient Studies & Technology, Ancient Texts, archaeology, Jesus, Jesus Bloodline, Jesus Tomb, New Testament | 4 comments

The Society of Biblical Literature’s Review of Biblical Literature just published a review of James H. Charlesworth’s edited volume, The Tomb of Jesus and His Family? Exploring Ancient Jewish Tombs Near Jerusalem’s Walls (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2013). The review is by Jodi Magness, who begins the review this way:

This  volume  contains twenty-six papers  (plus  an  introduction  and  conclusion  by  the editor)  presented  at  a  conference  that  was  held  Jerusalem  in  January  2008  on  “Jewish Views  of  the  After  Life  and  Burial  Practices  in  Second  Temple  Judaism:  Evaluating  the Talpiot  Tomb  in  Context.” Although  most  of  the  papers  focus  on  some  aspect  of  the Talpiyot (or Talpiot)tomb and its ossuaries and/or the “James ossuary,” they are written by scholars with widely varying perspectives and fields of expertise, including archaeology, epigraphy  and  paleography,  theology,  social  history,  biology,  statistics,  New  Testament, rabbinics, religious studies, geology, women’s studies, and mathematics.

For  those  who may  not  remember,  in  March  2007the  Discovery  Channel  broadcast  a documentary by  Simcha  Jacobovici in  which  he  claimed that  the  lost  tomb  of  Jesus  and his family had been discovered in Jerusalem (also published in a related book). This was none other than the Talpiyot tomb (so-called after the Jerusalem neighborhood in which it is located), which was excavated by archaeologists in 1980 after it was discovered during construction  work. A  final  report  on  the  Talpiyot  tomb  excavation  was  published  in ‘Atiqot in 1996. The tomb contained ten ossuaries, six of them inscribed (five in Aramaic and   one   in   Greek),   while   the   remaining   four   are   plain   (one is now   missing). Archaeologists  noted  that  some  of  the  names  in  the  inscriptions  (e.g., Yeshua  son of Yehoseph;  Marya;  Mariam/Mariame;  Yoseh  [apparently  a  diminutive  of  Yehosef])  recall individuals  associated  with  Jesus  in  the  NewTestament  accounts but  considered  this  a coincidence, as  these  were  common  names  among  the  Jewish  population  at  the  time. However, in the documentary Jacobovici claimed that the inscriptions identify this as the tomb  of  Jesus  and  his  family, marshalling an  array  of  supporting  evidence that includes statistical  and  DNA  analyses. The  implications  of this  claim  are  that  Jesus  was  not resurrected  (as  his  physical  remains  were  placed  in  an  ossuary), that  he  was  married  to Mary Magdalene (who supposedly is named in one of the inscriptions), and that he had a son  named  Judah  (as  one  of  the  ossuaries  is  inscribed  Yehudah  bar  Yeshua). Jacobovici also has attempted to prove that an adjacent, unexcavated tomb (the Patio tomb) contains the remains of followers of Jesus and that the James ossuary (which has no archaeological provenience but surfaced in a private collection) is the tenth (now missing) ossuary from the Talpiyot tomb.

The review isn’t long, but it’s informative. Highly recommended.

Mike Heiser on Reddit “Ask Me Anything” (AMA) Session Tomorrow

Posted by on Sep 3, 2015 in _NakedBible, _Paleobabble, _UFOreligions, Announcement, Unseen Realm | 13 comments

I’ll be on Reddit tomorrow at 12:30pm Pacific time for an AMA – “Ask Me Anything” – session. I’ve never been on Reddit before, so I can’t tell you much. This is a first for me. I’ve been told I’ll be for 1.5-2 hrs and will have to type my answers. Lexham / Faithlife social media marketers did the grunt work to set this up. We’re all hoping I’ll get some questions relating to content in The Unseen Realm, but folks can ask me anything.

To view the session click here.

More Evidence that So-Called Gospel of Jesus’ Wife was Forged

Posted by on Aug 28, 2015 in _Paleobabble, Ancient Texts, Apocryphal Literature, Dan Brown, Gospel of Thomas, Jesus | 5 comments

Hat tip to Mark Goodacre via Twitter for this update on the forgery. The post is by Coptologist Christian Askeland.