Many of you know that I’ve been working (puttering is more accurate) on a book for non-specialists (i.e., lay people and pastors, not the academy) on what I refer to as the divine council worldview of the Bible. It’s entitled The Myth That Is True. I’ve been at it for years. The day has finally come — the first draft (329 pages) is finally in the can.
NOTE: This post was revised Dec 2013 and the link to the draft removed, as I am under contract with a publisher for the book.
Thanks Mike, will definitely read it and buy the book when it comes out. Facade was one of my favorite books. I know that was fictional but you really inspire people to look at biblical concepts in a supernatural way, the way it truly is. Thanks for your hard work, your many fans appreciate it.
Thanks Mike for all the hard work on this. I loved what you put out from this book already. Just one plea. Please, please, please–pretty pretty please, please with cherries and chocolate and sugar on top–have footnotes in the final version. Endnotes are so frustrating. Though I have a feeling I know exactly why you have endnotes, some of us do like to read them and look them up.
I actually prefer footnotes, too. I am guessing this would come down to a publisher decision if it gets that far.
Having perused the first few pages of the version you sent me via link last month, I can see you’ve tinkered with it a bit more….guess I’ll junk the v. 1, and look at v. 2.0. Since I’ve heard from somebody that having a PhD doesn’t immunize you from typos, I’ll assume that you won’t take offense at folks pointing out spelling errors.
Thus far, my only real complaint is that the background color isn’t fuschia. 😉
funny! just collect the typos and send them along. Thanks.
Woo hoo!. Do you want readers who catch typos to pass them on to you?
yes – but not one at a time; collect them and send them at the end.
I’m more than just a little bit geeked about this! Does that make me a fan, or just a geek?
awesome. i will definitely get the book.
Well done! Having read an earlier version, I have no doubt that this could be one of the most significant books of popular-level theology ever. If everyone who read ‘The Purpose-Driven Life’ read this when it comes out, I’d be a very happy man indeed.
don’t hold your breath. I’m not sure what will become of it, but far fewer people will have an appetite for content.
Too true, sadly. Although, since we were talking about charismaticism, I’m hoping it will have some popularity amongst that particular stream – a lot of the spiritual warfare stuff would be quite familiar, it would just be given a much stronger exegetical basis.
The new first chapter is a worthy addition. I was just wondering, though: when do you think animals stopped being vegetarians? God seems to hold them accountable in some way after the flood, so did they ‘sin’ pre-fall and disobey God? That would be my inference, at least.
Personally, since Eden was only a tiny spot of the globe, I have no problem with carnivores from the very beginning (out in the natural world outside Eden). This gets filed under “things people say about the earth assuming that Eden was the whole earth.” I see nothing in Scripture against that, but that’s basically because there’s nothing in it about that at all.
As you know, I have been blessed by your work and appreciate your insights.
If you have an opportunity, can you help me reconcile Romans 8:19-22 (particularly verse 21) with your well articulated understanding of natural disasters not being an aspect of the curse upon the entire ground/land throughout the whole planet in Gen. 3:17 but part of God’s good creation, restrained/controlled by God, outside the Garden of Eden? I can see, from your view, why Paul would describe (presumably subhuman) creation as being frustrated and craning its neck to see the eschatolgoical glory of the sons of God (here, meaning Christians) when such created chaos will be fully restrained when the Edenic setting is restored and fills the entire earth (Rev. 21:1). But, how are we to understand creation being in “bondage to corruption?” Does this have something to do with interpreting the Greek word “ktisis” as “creature” instead of “creation” throughout Romans 8:19-22? Any insight or guidance to other resources you could afford me would be very much appreciated.
Lastly, I share the enthusiasm of others over this completed draft and look forward to, Lord-willing, its successful publication and a large readership!
Peace be with you,
Marc – send me this one in an email so it doesn’t drop off my radar. I’ll post a reply back in here.
Done. When you have time my friend. I know you’re busy. Thanks for your service, as always!
Yours in Him,
Was this ever answered in a post/reply? I can’t find it if so. I too am curious about this passage from Romans.
not sure what this refers to.
What I have always heard taught was that the lamb would lie down next to the lion in the future as they did in Eden. Do you think there were any physiological changes due to the fall? Have there ever been miraculous physiological changes for a whole group? For instance, someone raised from the dead or an axe head floating is an isolated event. But was there something God did special so the feet of the Israelites didn’t swell in their wilderness journeys. By the way, fascinating book, Mike. I’ll buy one!
[Is this the Randy I know from MN and VA?]
In order: no and no. I see no logical connection between a divine act in one context and another context. In other words, just because God did X in one setting is not argument to presume X in another.
Awesome!! Thanks and Blessings
Thank you. I am both appreciative and looking forward to a paper bound version. I just read your preface. Speaking as a “evangelical” who has not had the time to learn several ancient languages. I did take the time to volunteer in Israel on an archeological dig, putz around the Israeli Antiquities Museum and take in a lot of the culture and country. That alone was shattering to many of my presuppositions.
I am sure your book will help tear down more, or at least get me to evaluate more closely why I hold certain positions.
I hope it is useful and stimulating.
Quite simply “WHOA!”
It took me all that time to absorb the material, try to figure it out and check it against my own information. By the end I simply felt foolish that I had not noticed most of that before. I picked up a paperback transliteration of the I book of Enoch, this also explains a lot.
I loved the bit about the “Gates of Hell.” I remember standing there myself at the headwaters of the Dan river, in the foothills of the Upper Galilee and looking on that very spot. When I was there my guide mentioned what Christ really meant by “the Gates of hell not prevailing” but you painted the picture far more successfully.
What this does for me is to unlock many of the questions I have had for years about the Tanakh that no preacher has managed to answer to my satisfaction before. Missler came the closest because he at least was willing to ask the right questions. You seem to have the right training married to the right spirit.
The enemy will not like this one bit. Expect ad hominem attacks, because your work will stand on its own.
I’m used to either being attacked or people looking at me like I have two heads. (Unfortunately).
Mike, SUPER job with the book draft. It has truly been one of the most stimulating/fascinating/revolutionary books I’ve read in the past 32 years. When you do publish it, you can count on me to encourage everybody I know to buy it.
Thanks for keeping it on my radar (amazing how I don’t even think about it for long stretches). Some people at work are reading through it now in preparation for content editing sessions. I’m hoping those can begin the fall.
Thank you for your work on this! Your blogs are great, but its so much easier to tell an interested friend, “Read this book” instead of, “Check out these 10 blog entries”.
Just reading the opening preface I am so excited to read this that I am nigh to salivation. If you get it in print I will, for sure, buy the book. I have been hoping for quite some time to see this topic exhausted. I admit though, I am a bit scared to read it, but scared in a good way!
There’s a “where angels fear to tread” pun in here somewhere! Hope you find it stimulating.
Thank you Michael. I’m really enjoying reading ” The Myth That Is True”. Reading it and letting all the pieces come together.
Dr. Heiser, I am thrilled that you have posted this work at a time between semesters so that I can enjoy it without neglecting some required coursework! For as Lewis says, myth “shocks us more fully awake than we are for most of our lives.” To be woken up to our Bible is a task that we as evangelicals (and I personally) need desperately.
To piggyback on the questions about typos, do you want the list posted here in the comments, or emailed to you?
email them to me all at once; liked the Lewis quotation!
I had one question from chapter 8 which will quickly reveal my beginner status in Hebrew. On your discussion of the morphology of nephilim, you mention that Hebrew morphology would allow that the Numbers 13 spelling with the yod could be a Hebrew substantive adjective. I agree that even if that is a morphological possibility, it is not the best contextual answer. However, I was wondering if the Genesis spelling without the yod is also capable of being an adjective? I checked Waltke/O’Connor for information on the qatil pattern, and the examples all have the yod, but I did not know if that was a necessary feature. I did not notice a mention of the option for Hebrew adjective in your The Meaning of the Word Nephilim PDF or another slightly different handout which looks to be your work, but which is hosted on a pretty shady looking site called greatdreams. So, if you would be willing to help a novice with a bit of clarification on the option for the word being of Hebrew instead of Aramaic origin, I would appreciate it.
I would need the correct diacriticals for the qatil, but if it is what I presume, that pattern needs the yod/i vowel. In any case, n-p-l does not occur as a qatil noun in the Hebrew Bible (though it would be hypothetically possible), whereas imports from Aramaic are known (and if Gen 1-11 has a Babylonian backdrop and provenance, which many accept (critics and evangelical scholars alike) the Aramaic angle becomes even more plausible.
I’m guessing the PDF is mine but the site is not.
Dr. Heiser, I really appreciate your making this available, so I don’t want to be too critical. But while reading the first and last chapters, I continually had to ask myself why does Dr. Heiser think that these events are still in the future? Especially given that the prophets expected that the coming of the messiah, the resurrection of the dead and the return from exile would all be part of a single event? And given the expectation of all of the NT authors that events were occurring “now,” “shortly” and “soon,” not two millennia in the future? I do not see how a contemporary person can take these texts as referring to future events rather than to a present spiritual reality, as un-Jewish a conception as that would be. I understand the appeal of reading the texts in their original context, but I don’t think you are going to be able to construct a workable theology for contemporary Christians that way. Augustine may not have known Hebrew, but he knew that much.
what events? I’m not a full preterist; I see no reason to be, but that may be off trajectory.
Full preterism is a term taken from insular debates within Reformed circles following the publication of R.C. Sprouls The Last Days According to Jesus. All parties to that debate assume that the parousia or second coming must be an event in history, but disagree about timing. Those who reject full or hyper preterism do ultimately because they see it as inconsistent with the Westminster Confessions assertion of a visible, bodily return of Jesus.
Rather than focus on an insular debate within a small group of evangelicals, lets focus on discussions that have occurred in the larger world of European Protestantism during the past century, in particular the discussions in historical-critical NT scholarship between Schweitzers consistent and Dodds realized eschatology. These debates informed the conception of the last things articuled by neo-orthodox/liberal theologies like Karl Barth, Rudolph Bultmann and Paul Tillich. You will find similar views among prominent Roman Catholic theologians, like Karl Rahner and Hans Urs von Balthasar. None of these people understood the new heavens and new earth language to be about an actual physical state of affairs to be initiated by God some time in the future, even if they disagreed among themselves about the reality of what was actually at issue.
Given that the debates about what Jesus and his followers actually expected to happen is one of the most important and contentious issue in NT scholarship, I dont think it is going to be possible to create a Biblical theology of the renewal of creation without addressing them. In fact, R.C. Sproul began to explore preterism as a way of trying to answer the skeptical NT scholars who were quite happy to say that Jesus got it wrong when he predicted the end of the world in his lifetime. You are not facing this dilemma because you have assumed without demonstration that this language is about OUR future.
Your response is part of why I don’t care about eschatology. I’m actually content to just say “here’s what the text says” and then propose what it can sustain and leave it there. I don’t really care about who says what unless the focus of the discussion is exegetical (i.e., statement X is derived from some textual point, as opposed to thinking/conjecturing about the text — both of which happen in the writings of theologians – and more of the latter in the ones you list).
All the above depends on the “this generation” phrase. Given the cryptic nature of prophecy, I consider it a flawed assumption to build any system on the presumed clarity of the phrase. It could mean the generation to which Jesus was speaking, and just as easily the generation (in the future) to which Jesus was referring. In any event, I do believe a return of Christ is yet future, which is actually separable from this issue (whether preterists have said that or not isn’t my concern, since it wouldn’t be hard to argue it is separable).
I know you’ve said you don’t care, and I’ve seen your video presentations about how you want to focus on the text and not systems. But since Jesus started his ministry with “Repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand!,” I think answering this question is ESSENTIAL, otherwise how can you know what Christianity even IS? Eschatology is the CENTER of Christian proclamation, not some bit on the side, like infant baptism versus believers baptism. Plus, you are too good a scholar to argue that “this generation” in the Olivet Discourse actual means “THAT generation.
One’s eschatological position is not essential to articulating the gospel; one’s eternal destiny is not tied to an eschatological position.
Oh Mike, what have you done! There goes my free time,lol! Now in a more serious tone; thanks a lot for putting this material available and all the effort you have poured on it. Im sure this is going to be a phenomenal read. God bless.
thanks – had to chuckle at this one!
Fantastic news Doctor H!
I was actually just telling my wife that you are working on such a book; we are both interested in the final copy. This draft will sustain me until you publish the real deal. Thank you.
Note: footnotes also get my vote.
thanks – and your vote is duly noted.
I gave it a very quick read yesterday, and I truly think that this is one of the most important books that’s been written on the Bible. If there is anything else out there that deals with the subject matter you deal with, I have yet to find it.
Things I understand (at least a little) more clearly now:
Sacrifice – its mechanism and why it’s necessary
The personhood of God
The presence of The Word in the OT
The problem of pain
Why the land of Israel was such a big deal to the Israelites
…and that’s just for starters. Thanks for having the guts to let the Bible say what it says and relay the message to those of us who crave the message. I’ll be sending copies of your book to everyone I know once it’s released.
you’re welcome; I’ll forward the hate mail to you!
Michael, I will read this with great interest. I first became acquainted with your work when you published in the FARMS review (Vol. 19: No. 1,) and your back-and-forth exchange with David Bokovoy. That led me to your website on the Divine Counsel. I am an active, believing Mormon; but much of what you say feeds into my world-view and I look forward to more of your explorations.
you’re welcome; saw David at SBL in the lunch line, and unfortunately not thereafter. I joked with him about having our picture taken together for the web — we both had a good laugh over that one.
Congratulations! I LOVED the draft you emailed me several months ago. So glad this is moving forward. It’s excellent.
you’re welcome; I got desperate enough to take a week of vacation from work to finally get the draft done. I’m glad I did.
Awesome! I am shelving Mark S. Smith for this. Any clue the time range it will appear on Amazon?
funny! Don’t shelve Mark; he’s wonderful for data. I have no idea what will become of the manuscript. I’ve chatted with some friends at work about helping me on round two, so that may take shape soon.
Very much enjoying this!
Oh, boy. Congrats for all the long hours (but the fun in finding stuff must have been off the charts…). The explication of this field, for me, has been the most satisfying reading I’ve done since grad school.
thanks; I view it as a beginning, actually; a good launching point.
I’m so happy for Dr.Heiser…this book has been a long time coming and it’s fascinating stuff to boot! It’s what drew me to the blog years back. God bless it as it makes its way into the real world.
Hello again, Michael. I have another question for you (the last one was in my email in september last year about gods instead of God in Ps 68:15). This one is: Do you think it is possible that Asaph is referring to the ugarit El in Ps 82? That is, our God is standing in the council of El (father of Baal and the other corrupt “gods”), judging them. Because why should the corrupt angels be considered belonging to the council of the highest god? They must have been kicked out from that council long before. There must be two, atleast, councils, on earth in the invisible realm, and here we have our God, the Angel of the Lord, visiting the corrupt council, judging them and telling them their time soon will be over. They will die as humans. Otherwise one has to see the angels of God as very fallable and unpredictable beings (they aren’t perfect, I know, but I don’t think they have losses all the time).
the easiest way for me to answer this is to recommend you read the draft of the Myth that is True and my latest ETS paper on monotheism — both posted here after Thanksgiving.
Mike I’m so glad to see this finally put to book form. Looking forward to early pre-order!
Now – could I somehow talk you into an “Encyclopedia of “Divine” Beings” where you would define all the various sentient beings?? Subtitles: “Where in the Bible Did You Find ‘Monotheism’ ?” … or “What you always wanted to know about superhuman sentient beings but were too afraid to ask Pastor” … or “Just when you had “god” safely in a box, you find a heavenly “Star Wars Bar Scene” ” 🙂 [no offensive sacrilege intended!]
btw I include my newer email – the old one has been offed.
I carefully read the first 86 pages in one sitting then collapsed into a fetal position for 20 minutes. I can’t wait to read more. Mike, are you divine hybrid? How do you do all this work. You must be getting some, “help”? Thank them for me……..
This is one of the funnier things I’ve read in long time! I’d say more but I have a divine council meeting in five minutes.
Referred by Bob Wassung, looked for the link to The Divine Council download but found none. Have you removed it already? I viewed http://michaelsheiser.com/TheNakedBible/2012/01/mikes-divine-council-book-draft-completed/ on 1-12-2012 and no link to the PDF was evident. Could you send link to email@example.com ? Thank you.
that would be because I never made a link with that URL. No idea where you got that.
Just finished the book. I find it to be THE best attempt at crafting and explaining a cohesive and coherent narrative mythology – especially one that could actually be practically used and taught by evangelicals who believe in inerrancy – which appear to be who you are addressing in your book.
I did have two key questions I didn’t see addressed that I see as having significance with some of your main assertions. Seeing how well you presented the information, my assumption is that you are aware of these questions, just perhaps hadn’t included those thoughts in the text.
1. With your discussion of the reasons for the Mosaic/Israelite wars with instruction to destroy specific nations, you gave the key reason being the wiping out of the corrupted seed of the Watchers, which according to your theses, appears to have been dispersed throughout those entire nations. How does that work, from your perspective, with the stated directives that in the wars of destruction against them that it was not only okay but commanded to keep alive the young women who were virgins, and to integrate them into the Israelite nation?
2. Perhaps I misread, but I understood in your discussion of the vision in Daniel, that you explained that the Ancient of Days represented the Father, with the Son of Man being the Visible Yahweh. However, with your assertions that the Father was never seen in a visible form, how does that account for a description of the Ancient of Days in, well, a visible form? Would that not then make two visible Yahwehs in this vision?
Thanks very much for your contribution.
On the first – If this is indeed the best way to see this (there is another way to think about this mythologically that is presently not in the book, at least yet – and it surely will be), the reason the women remain alive is that they have not given birth to any bloodline seed and, as virgins, were not “infected” with the seed. This reflects the pre-scientific understanding of pregnancy, where it was believed that the male “planted the seed” inside the woman and then it grew. If there was any scientific reality to the idea of (biological) nephilim bloodlines, this would not be coherent, since the women would be carrying the genetics. This is a good question since it points to the need (in the book and more broadly) to sift all this in its pre-modern terms as well as what the point might be for our day.
On the second – This would need better wording, as the difference would be the second figure is described with a phrase that elsewhere meant “human” (as opposed to just being visible). I suspect (also not in the book) that there may be some distinction between seeing Yahweh on his turf (e.g., Sinai, or in an off-earth vision) and when he comes to where humans are (Gen 18). That is, both may be seen visible, but in the latter instance, there is no prohibition about meeting “face to face” (in Gen 18 you’d have to make the passage stand on its head to avoid having Abraham see the face). I’m still thinking about how to parse that, but it does seem to me there is a difference, and one that will also work with the play on the word panim in both instances.
VERY good questions and insights!
My feeling is that the Nephilim descent did have a physical effect, but that the main danger was a particularly strong spiritual affinity with the demonic that could express itself particularly powerfully through the patriarchal leadership of the time, with the intent of Israel’s destruction. As there weren’t any exorcists at the time, the only method of rooting this out was by herem.
Just finished a quick read-through of the draft. Awesome work! I’ve been following your work for years and I appreciate the courage it took to lay all of this in God’s hands and let the text lead you.
I’ve been trying to slowly introduce some of your theories with friends, in Bible studies, etc. without making heads explode. 🙂 Since I used to be into the whole Sitchen/Van Daniken scene, totally different things make my ears perk up than most of my Christian peers but this book will give me a lot share as it covers such a range of topics.
Here’s a story I think you’ll appreciate.
My wife and I started teaching AWANA this year and the very first night a little girl asked me if the “snake” in Eden was Satan. My first thought was, wow, did she pick the worst person to ask… but then again, I’m sure there was a reason I was the one who got that question. I told her, “The short answer is, ‘I think so.’ The long answer is, ‘I’ve spent half my life trying to figure that out.'”
While it wasn’t the best answer, I felt it was more important to give her an honest answer than a simple one. I know the answer I would have gotten if I asked someone when I was her age would have been something like, “Of course it’s Satan and don’t question it!”
agreed – and had to laugh at the anecdote, too!
I’m halfway through the book and really enjoying it. The only comment I have so far, of any criticism, is that I didn’t see here, or in your online lectures on the sons of god topic, the mention of the first of the ten commandments. Just that it would be one more supporting verse for your belief that these sons were real beings. Otherwise, why “waste” a commandment on the issue?
More importantly, I see this teaching as a really good example of an apologetic tool, if there is such a thing? Just as the intelligent-design advocates use examples of complexity in nature to prove that there has to, therefore, be a creator, I would say that the seeming confusion of all the elohim-related stuff in the OT that you have shown to be coherent is actually “proof” that no one could have made this stuff up, the bible that is.
Try to unpack some hidden mystery from the Lord of the Rings trilogy or War and Peace. Those are vast, complex, and well thought out too. But hidden in what complexity they have is, well, nothing else. In fact, despite the obvious genius behind these and other great writings there is the obvious fingerprint of man, and man only, because there is obvious contradiction or impossibility at some point in these writings.
Add to that comparison of the bible and other complex writings the fact that the bible wasn’t written by the same gang of artistic people all putting their heads together in order to make a coherent and cohesive tale, such as the Lord of the Rings. With the bible these hidden truths complement each other from books written over a long period of time. How did that happen?
I wonder what a jury would conclude about the probability that these elohim truths, and many others, are just coincidence, if they read your book?
there’s plenty of reference to idolatry and worshipping only Yahweh, so I’m thinking that’s covered that way (but let me know what you think when you get all the way through).
Just finished it. Loved it.
As far as theology goes, I honestly think this book is among the most groundbreaking theological writings in my lifetime. Hopefully it will profoundly affect the Church universal.
Look forward to the published product.
wow – thanks; I’d take “useful” but this is nice! No idea what will become of it.
Great Draft Mike – Kudos..
I have watched most of your videos, and having all of this in one place is great. I am only on page 60 now.
Just a question if I may.
It concerns your interpretation of the passage “the man
has become like one of us, knowing good and evil.”
What do you mean by ” They had never been
considered morally responsible for their actions.”
I would be glad if you could clarify that, or refer me to reliable reading on the “knowing good and evil” idea.
Don’t I discuss the good and evil thing in there? (a serious question – hard to remember what’s there and not). What I’m angling for is that there was never an occasion that had arisen that Adam and Eve had to be held accountable for something they did. They had lived in innocence, never transgressing God’s will prior to this incident. If you can think of a better way to word that, please email it to me.
Thank you for the work. Although I may have missed it, was there anything in the text relating to the notion about Augustine “removing” the spiritual aspect from the Old Testament, or perhaps an academic article written on the circumstances and outcome today from this occuring?
FYI looking forward to “The Seed”
you’d only find that in books about the history of interpretation of the passage. I can’t look right now to be sure, but I am betting Anette Yoshiko Reed’s book on Gen 6 says something there. I’ve never tried to track down a history of it, since I don’t really care what Augustine said, choosing instead to focus on the text. VanderKam’s chapter on 1 Enoch in early Christianity may say something as well. I could email that one to you. I may have some other items in PDF as well.
As I know you are extremely busy, only if time allows those items to be sent. Thanks for the information in the reply at the very least.
Just finished and I have to agree with Patrick above (not “above”, but, well you know). Not only helps put the whole bible picture together in a coherent, cohesive storyline but also clears up so many questionable passages. This should be a must read for anyone who intends to simply read the bible for the first time from, “cover to cover”.
Mike, where will the books be available and what will be the cost (the cost for normal people, we know you’ll give discounts to those of us who have provided moral support here on the blogs for so long :))?
Thanks for the great work.
no idea what will become of it. Really. I plan to keep working on the draft in 2012 and perhaps by the end I’ll know if any publisher is interested.
Thanks so much for your work. Having recently worked through the text of Jonah, I remember being struck by the unusual expression in Jonah 3.3 ??????????? in reference to Nineveh. After reading your draft, this text may imply a much broader reference; perhaps something akin to Bashan?
it could (especially if taken as a plural), but most scholars take elohim as used adjectivally there, and that does happen.
Sorry about the last post, the hebrew didn’t work; here is the transliteration: l??l?h??m