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Paleobabble

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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Paleobabble Blog Entries

Jesus, Reincarnation, and John 9

Posted by on Aug 25, 2014 in Greek NT, Jesus, New Testament, _NakedBible, _Paleobabble | 6 comments

I posted a link back in 2010 to an article I wrote for a scholarly journal on this topic — specifically, the syntax of John 9:3-4.  The essay asked whether the Greek syntax of John 9:3-4 justifies the idea that Jesus endorsed the idea of reincarnation. I also wrote a short article on the topic that wasn’t publicly available. It was aimed at the lay person who has no background in Greek.

Today Bible Study Magazine posted that short article, so I bring it to the attention of readers. The article contains a footnote with a link to the Greek syntax article for those interested.

Geographical Place Names in Ancient History: An Online Thesaurus

Posted by on Aug 22, 2014 in Ancient Sites, Ancient Studies & Technology, archaeology, Online Resources, _Paleobabble | 0 comments

The Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names (TGN) is now available for free download. This resource of over 2 million place names includes ancient and modern names. It’s an invaluable resource for connecting place names throughout the ancient world to other disciplines. From the website:

What is TGN?

The Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names is a resource of over 2,000,000 names of current and historical places, including cities, archaeological sites, nations, and physical features. It focuses mainly on places relevant to art, architecture, archaeology, art conservation, and related fields.

TGN is powerful for humanities research because of its linkages to the three other Getty vocabularies—the Union List of Artist Names, the Art & Architecture Thesaurus, and the Cultural Objects Name Authority. Together the vocabularies provide a suite of research resources covering a vast range of places, makers, objects, and artistic concepts. The work of three decades, the Getty vocabularies are living resources that continue to grow and improve. Because they serve as standard references for cataloguing, the Getty vocabularies are also the conduits through which data published by museums, archives, libraries, and other cultural institutions can find and connect to each other.

Updated Facade with New Cover Now Live on Amazon

Posted by on Aug 18, 2014 in Announcement, _NakedBible, _Paleobabble, _UFOreligions | 4 comments

Just a quick note since I said I’d let everyone know. (Finally!)

Here’s the link.

Ancient Astrology as a Common Root for Science and Pseudo-Science

Posted by on Aug 15, 2014 in Ancient Legends, archaeoastronomy - astrology, astral prophecy, _Paleobabble | 0 comments

That’s the title of this essay from the Electronic Journal of Folklore. The essay is from vol. 15 (published in 2000). It’s also available in PDF.

It’s a good overview of ancient astronomy / astrology and gets into familiar concepts and themes that will be familiar to any reader of paleobabble.

Mike Heiser Interviewed About The Portent

Posted by on Aug 15, 2014 in Ancient Astronauts, Announcement, Eschatology (End Times), ExoPolitics, ExoTheology, UFO Religions, UFO Research, _Paleobabble, _UFOreligions | 2 comments

Jack Brewer over at The UFO Trail also occasionally writes for Examiner.com. Jack recently interviewed me about The Portent, the sequel to The Facade. The Portent went live on Amazon last week.

As I note in the interview, The Portent is a true sequel — you need to have read The Facade first to follow it.

Check out the interview — and learn a few things (no spoilers) about The Portent!

The Portent, Sequel to The Facade, Now Available on Amazon

Posted by on Aug 11, 2014 in Announcement, _NakedBible, _Paleobabble, _UFOreligions | 24 comments

If you follow me on Twitter (@msheiser) — and you really should, since communication there is more immediate — you know that The Portent, the sequel to my novel The Façade, went live on Amazon yesterday. I hope everyone who read The Façade will get one. The Façade has done quite well in reviews (150 of them between Amazon and GoodReads, 4+ stars out of 5). I think people will like The Portent, too. Like The Façade, every ancient text, document, historical figure, etc. is real. I put a lot of research into these things!

Some important notes on The Portent:

1. It’s not a “stand alone” read – you need to have read The Façade to really follow the storyline. The Façade is of course still available on Amazon. It will be getting a new cover there very soon. That may appear in days. Here’s the synopsis of The Portent:

The climactic ending of The Façade left Brian Scott and Melissa Kelley with only each other—and the terrible secrets they carry with them. The Portent finds them living together under new identities, their future clouded by constant fear of exposure and the haunting uncertainty of their feelings for each other.

By the time they learn they’re being watched, their carefully constructed lives will be over.

The Portent follows Brian and Melissa as they discover themselves at the center of an unthinkably vast conspiracy that spans centuries, crafted by a relentless evil bent on turning the faith of millions against itself.

Ancient tombs, long-forgotten Nazi experiments, UFOs, occult mythologies, biblical theology, and technologies yielding godlike power converge to create a disturbing mosaic that answers a terrifying question: Now that “they” are here, what do they want?

2. The last chapter of The Portent contains a clue to unraveling a significant plot element in the story, one that will continue in the third book. A second clue is available only in a handbook I’ve created for The Portent. The clues are part of a contest (explained in a Postscript in The Portent). The first person to solve the puzzle described therein will get a character named after them in the third book.

Joseph Farrell’s 150-Year Learning Curve on Yahweh and Cuneiform Texts

Posted by on Aug 7, 2014 in Hebrew Bible, PanBabylonianism, _Paleobabble | 13 comments

A few days ago I exchanged emails with Cris Putnam who blogs at Logos Apologia. The conversation was in regard to how Dr. Joseph Farrell had published certain ideas about the name Yahweh in cuneiform texts that people who are actually in this field (ancient Semitic languages) know were rendered invalid and dispensed with over 150 years ago.  The idea way back then was that the divine name was known in Mesopotamia before the patriarchal period or the earliest biblical writings. It seems it’s part of some misguided claim about Israelites being incapable of an original religious thought.  Cris posted a response to Farrell in which he uses part of our exchange.

If you have modern reference tools like Anchor Bible Dictionary (Anchor-Yale) or Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible (Brill), the entries on “Yahweh” are quite clear that the divine name is known outside Israel (in Semitic texts) from shortly after 1000 BC (i.e., well into the biblical period itself). That’s no surprise given the geo-political interaction described in the Old Testament and sources like the Mesha Stela (“Moabite Stone”). The Mesopotamian “evidence” Farrell touts is nowhere in view since, like I said, it was slapped around and resigned to the dustbin of bad cuneiform etymology 150 years ago.

But don’t take my word for it.

Contemporary cuneiform expert Stephanie Dalley (you may have her anthology of Mesopotamian literature) addressed exactly what Farrell has in his book (you can see the pages at Putnam’s link) in a 1990 journal article. She wrote:

There is no reason from cuneiform material to question the view that the worship of Yahweh began in Sinai or southern Palestine in the very late Bronze Age and spread northwards around the turn of the millennium.1

Why is Dalley so confident (other than her own expertise in cuneiform)? Because she isn’t ignorant of the history of scholarship on this matter like Farrell is. Dalley references an 1885 essay by S. R. Driver, an eminent Semitist in his day, that debunked the work of F. Delitzsch (the guy whom Farrell quotes) on the matter. So effective was Driver’s rebuttal that the matter ended then and there — which is unusual in scholarship. Basically, it was a cuneiform butt-whooping.

But again, don’t take my word for it. Here’s the Driver article, which is public domain (i.e., Farrell could have found this if he’d been interested in accuracy instead of promoting some personal agenda point).2

Since I also get email about Yahweh showing up in the Ebla texts and Ugaritic material (both incorrect as well), I thought I’d add the note below from another scholar trained in cuneiform, Karel van der Toorn. He writes in DDD:

The cult of Yahweh is not originally at home in Palestine. Outside Israel, Yahweh was not worshipped in the West-Semitic world—despite affirmations to the contrary (pace, e.g. G. GARBINI, History and Ideology in Ancient Israel [London & New York 1988] 52–65). Before 1200 BCE, the name Yahweh is not found in any Semitic text. The stir caused by PETTINATO (e.g. Ebla and the Bible, BA 43 [1980] 203–216, esp. 203–205) who claimed to have found the shortened form of the name Yahweh (‘Ya’) as a divine element in theophoric names from Ebla (ca. 2400–2250 BCE) is unfounded. As the final element of personal names, -ya is often a hypocoristic ending, not a theonym (A. ARCHI, The Epigraphic Evidence from Ebla and the Old Testament, Bib 60 (1979) 556–566, esp. 556–560). MÜLLER argues that the sign NI, read yà by Pettinato, is conventionally short for NI-NI = ı̀-lɩ́, ‘my (personal) god’; it stands for ilı̄ or ilu (MÜLLER 1980:83; 1981:306–307). This solution also explains the occurrence of the speculated element *ya at the beginning of personal names; thus dyà-ra-mu should be read either as DINGIR-lɩ́-ra-mu or as dilix-ra-mu, both readings yielding the name Iliramu, ‘My god is exalted’. In no list of gods or offerings is the mysterious god *Ya ever mentioned; his cult at Ebla is a chimera.

Yahweh was not known at Ugarit either; the singular name Yw (vocalisation unknown) in a damaged passage of the Baal Cycle (KTU 1.1 iv:14) cannot convincingly be interpreted as an abbreviation for ‘Yahweh’ (pace, e.g., DE MOOR 1990:113–118). . . . The earliest West Semitic text mentioning Yahweh—excepting the biblical evidence—is the Victory Stela written by Mesha, the Moabite king from the 9th century BCE. The Moabite ruler recalls his military successes against Israel in the time of Ahab: “And →Chemosh said to me, ‘Go, take Nebo from Israel!’ So I went by night and I engaged in fight against her from the break of dawn until noon. And I took her and I killed her entire population: seven thousand men, boys, women, girls, and maid servants, for I devoted her to destruction (hḥrmth) for Ashtar-Chemosh. And I took from there the ʾ[rʾ]ly of Yahweh and I dragged them before Chemosh” (KAI 181:14–18). Evidently, Yahweh is not presented here as a Moabite deity. He is presented as the official god of the Israelites, worshipped throughout Samaria, as far as its outer borders since Nebo (נבה in the Mesha Stela, נבו in the Bible), situated in North-Western Moab, was a border town. . . .

There are two Egyptian texts that mention Yahweh. In these texts from the 14th and 13th centuries BCE, Yahweh is neither connected with the Israelites, nor is his cult located in Palestine.3 The texts speak about “Yahu in the land of the Shosu-beduins” (tʒ šʒśw jhwʒ; R. GIVEON, Les bédouins Shosou des documents égyptiens [Leiden 1971] no. 6a [pp. 26–28] and no. 16a [pp. 74–77]; note WEIPPERT 1974:427, 430 for the corrected reading). The one text is from the reign of Amenophis III (first part of the 14th cent. BCE; cf. HERMANN 1967) and the other from the reign of Ramses II (13th cent. BCE; cf. H. W. FAIRMAN, Preliminary Report on the Excavations at ʿAmārah West, Anglo-Egyptian Sudan, 1938–9, JEA 25 [1939] 139–144, esp. 141). In the Ramses II list, the name occurs in a context which also mentions Seir (assuming that sʿrr stands for Seir). It may be tentatively concluded that this “Yahu in the land of the Shosu-beduins” is to be situated in the area of Edom and Midian (WEIPPERT 1974: 271; AXELSSON 1987:60; pace WEINFELD 1987:304). In these Egyptian texts Yhw is used as a toponym (KNAUF 1988:46–47). Yet a relationship with the deity by the same name is a reasonable assumption (pace M. WEIPPERT, “Heiliger Krieg” in Israel und Assyrien, ZAW 84 [1972] 460–493, esp. 491 n. 144).4

To be honest, I was a bit surprised that Farrell had put this sort of material in a book. Dr. Farrell has a PhD in Patristics (early church fathers – Greek writers, specifically, though that field requires Latin). He isn’t a biblical studies scholar or a Semitic languages expert. While he’s out of his element (as we all are when we stray outside our field of expertise), I have no explanation for the shoddy research that he published in this regard. When I see material that’s 150 years out of date, I expect a Zecharia Sitchin sighting, not Joseph Farrell.  It’s actually a bit disconcerting since I’ve found his research on WWII exotic science and Nazi survival mythology (or not) so interesting and (usually) well-founded (yes, I do cross-check what I read in any given place). I guess when it comes to biblical studies or Semitics or (some forms?) of Christianity he has some axe to grind. That’s no excuse in any regard. All I can say here is that if his work on “Yahweh” troubles anyone, it can safely be ignored.

  1. S. Dalley, “Yahweh in Hamath in the 8th Century BC: Cuneiform Material and Historical Deductions,” Vetus Testamentum 40:1 (Ja 1990), p 21-32, at page 22. Dalley is referring to the turn of the first millennium BC – ca. 1000 B.C. S=Other scholars disagree with Dalley’s argument in this article that Yahweh was worshipped in Syria in the 8th century BC.
  2. I don’t expect readers to be able to digest all the cuneiform and high-browed language discussion. I post the article to show readers that the rebuttal exists. Basically, Driver concluded then what 150 years of scholarship has since validated: the divine name occurs outside the Hebrew Bible, but Delitzsch’s ideas — and so, Farrell’s — have no merit.
  3. Note that this is no biblical surprise, either, as this name for the God of the patriarchs was first announced in the biblical story of Israel in Midian at the burning bush – Exod. 3:1-14; cp. Exod 6:3.
  4. K. van der Toorn, “Yahweh,” ed. Bob Becking and Pieter W. van der Horst, Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible (Leiden; Boston; Köln; Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge: Brill; Eerdmans, 1999), 910–912.

More Nephilim-Bigfoot-Mound Builder-Peruvian Cone-Heads Flim-Flam

Posted by on Jul 22, 2014 in archaeology, Bogus History, Conspiracy Theory, Cult Archaeology, Giants, _Paleobabble, _UFOreligions | 5 comments

This would all be discouraging were not Jason Colavito’s lengthy reviews of this stuff so entertaining.

Both of these essays were posted this month. Annotations are mine.

Creationist “Bigfoot” Veterinarian Wants Cash to Sequence Nephilim “Giant” DNA

  • Readers will appreciate the photographic sleight-of-hand (read: deception) by Dr. Melba Ketchum of the recent Bigfoot DNA fiasco. Talk about depending on reader credulity.

Review of Richard Dewhurst’s “Ancient Giants Who Ruled America” and Its “Pre-Indian Caucasian Culture”

  • I saw this book at a Barnes and Noble recently. Thank you, Jason, for saving me the self-torture.
  • Readers will appreciate how Jason documents the poor methodology, outright errors, and plagiarism in this book.
  • I’ve collected a few dozen PDFs of accounts of giant human skeletons in the US in the 19th and early 20th centuries. I can tell you firsthand that it is quite inadequate to end your research with newspapers. Just because it’s in a newspaper, especially that era, doesn’t mean it’s true or that the “find” has been processed correctly. Newspaper reporters aren’t doing scientific testing. Hard to believe we have to point that out.
  • Once again, it’s pseudo-research (and non sequitur thinking) like this that gives the idea that there was a Creator a bad name. Pretty sad.

Did the Times of India Just Endorse the Ancient Astronaut Theory?

Posted by on Jul 16, 2014 in Ancient Astronauts, Ancient Sites, Bogus History, Cult Archaeology, _Paleobabble, _UFOreligions | 5 comments

Kind of . . . sort of . . . well, not really . . . maybe. Actually, it depends on what one wants to read into what’s said and isn’t.

I can hardly wait for the ancient astronaut crowd to think this means something. They are truly desperate for validation.

But let’s be honest. Let’s suppose that the people quoted in the Times are the smartest people on the planet. What does that mean for the Times‘ article? Nothing. Why? Because it is entirely opinion-based. In other words, the claims lack actual scientific data. There are no data that prove the people doing the opining aren’t doing more than reading our technological culture back into antiquity.

If you’ve followed ancient astronaut “research” for any amount of time you’ll note that isn’t unusual. It’s the norm.

But enjoy.

(Hat tip to Jason Colavito).

Ancient Aliens Researcher Calls the Show’s Content “Absurdity” and Her Job “Ridiculous”

Posted by on Jul 13, 2014 in Ancient Astronauts, Cult Archaeology, _Paleobabble, _UFOreligions | 1 comment

No kidding.

I encourage readers to read this post by Jason Colavito, which chronicles the admissions. If this is news to you, here’s another news flash: pro wrestling outcomes are scripted.

At least someone associated with the Ancient Aliens bunkum can be honest about what it is they’re doing.

I hope the Christian researchers who baptize the show’s content are listening (and repenting).