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.Paleobabble RSS
Paleobabble Blog Entries
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.
Hat tip to Leyla for sending this to me. It needs no description. Just perfect (even the hair/fur).
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.Regards,Immanuel Freedman, Ph.D. SMIEEEMember, International Association for Assyriology
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 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).
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.
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
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.
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.
Hat tip to Mark Goodacre via Twitter for this update on the forgery. The post is by Coptologist Christian Askeland.