பைபிள்-குலைக்கப் படுகிறதா -அகழ்வாய்வு உண்மைகளில்?

பைபிள்-குலைக்கப் படுகிறதா -அகழ்வாய்வு உண்மைகளில்?

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இஸ்ரேல் நாடு அரேபிய பாலைவனத்தின் ஒரு சிறிய பகுதி. ஆனால் இந்நாட்டு புராணக்கதைகளை ஐரோப்பிய நாட்டினர் தங்கள் அரசியல் லாபத்திற்காக- கட்டுக்கதையான இயேசு என்பவர் உயிர்த்தார் என்ற மூடநம்பிக்கையின்படி எழுந்த குழுக்களை ரோம் ஆட்சி வளர்த்து போலே உலகின் பல பகுதிகளிலும் பரப்பியது.

பைபிளை ஆய்வு நடுநிலைக் கண்ணோட்டத்தோடு எழுதுபவர்கள், அனைவரும் பைபிள் மறுப்பாளர்கள் அல்லர்.

உண்மையான வரலாற்று இயேசு யார்? வரலாற்று இயேசு உண்மையில் சொன்னது என்ன? என்ற நோக்கில் ஆய்வுகள் தொட்ங்கின.

பழைய ஏற்பாடு என்னும் எபிரேய பைபிளில் பழமையானது எது? எப்போது யாரால் புனையப்பட்டது? கட்டுக்கதையாக மோசே எழுதியது என்பவை உடைய- நடுநிலையாளர்கள் ஆய்வு- பழைய ஏற்பாட்டின் அடிப்படைக் கோட்பாடுகள் வெறும் பொய்யான கட்டுக்கதைகள் என்பதை நடுநிலை பைபிளியல் அறிஞர்கள் அனைவரும் ஏற்கின்றனர்.

ஆனால் 50-75 ஆண்டுகட்கு முன்பான தவறான மேம்போக்கான முடிவுகளை இன்றூம் மழுப்பலாளர்கள் பலர் எழுதிகின்றனர்,

அவர்கள் பாவம். பொருந்தாத வெற்று மழுப்பல்களை- தெளிவாக தவறு என மறுக்கப்பட்ட விபரங்களைத் தொகுத்து இன்றும் சமாதானங்கள் என புனைவது- அப்பாவிகளின் அறியாமையை காசாக்கும் தொழில் தான்.

நீதிமொழிகள்: 29:26 . தன் இருதயத்தை நம்புகிறவன் மூடன்; ஞானமாய் நடக்கிறவனோ இரட்சிக்கப்படுவான்.

நீங்கள் உங்கள் இருதயத்தில் புகுத்தப்பட்டுள்ள மூடநம்பிக்கையை கைவிட்டு மூளையைப் பயன்படுத்துங்கள்.

இஸ்ரேல் நாடு என்பது முரட்டு அராபியக் கூட்டம், இவர்கள் நாகரிகத்தி மிகவும் பின் தங்கியிருந்தனர். பாபிலோனிய- கிரேக்கப் படையெடுப்புகளுக்குப் பின்பு தான் அவர்கள் நகரம்- கட்டுமானம்- தத்துவம் என அறிவு பெற்றனர். பொ.ச.மு.300-200 இடையே பெரும்பாலான பழைய ஏற்பாடு புனையப் பட்டது, இதற்கு எஸ்ரா-நெகமியா போன்ற புத்தகங்களிலும் மிகத்தெளிவான ஆதாரங்கள்- அதை எவைக் குறிக்கின்றன என்பதில் பெரும் கருத்தொற்றுமை நடுநிலை பைபிளியல் அறிஞர்கள் ஏற்கின்றனர்.

இஸ்ரேல் சுற்றி எழுந்த அகழ்வாய்வுகள் பைபிள் புராணக்கதைகளை முழுமையாக தவறு என்று நிருபிக்கிறது. அரசியல் ஒற்றுமை ஏற்படுத்த பொ.ச.300-200 இடையே எழுந்தது தான் பழைய ஏற்பாடு என்னும் யூதர்களின் பைபிள்.

ஆய்வு நூல்: R.E. Gmirkin- “ Berossus and Genesis, Manetho and Exodus: Hellenistic histories and the date of the Pentateuch”

இந்த நூல் மிகத் தெளிவாக கிரேக்கப் பாரம்பரியங்கள்- பக்கத்து நாடுகளில் எபிரேயர்கள் பற்றி உள்ள ஆதாரங்கள், ஆதியாகம நூலில் உள்ள பல நாடுகள் அவை அப்பெயரில் இயங்கிய காலம் எப்போது என ஆராய்ந்து – பொ.ச.270 வாக்கில் தான் நாடுகள் அப்பெயர்களில் இயங்கின என நிருபித்தார். கிரேக்க செப்துவகிந்தும் எபிரேயமும் ஒரே நேரத்தில் தான் புனையப்பட்டன எனக் காட்டுகிறார்.

இன்னுமொரு நூல் –55511241851

Bible As Literature, Oxford University Press, written by 3 Professors John.A.Gabel, Charles B.Wheelr and Antony.D.York.

How was Hebrews living during OT times.

The small Corner of the Eastern Mediterranean, we have to keep reminding ourselves that it take up only Lower Third of that coast- particularly speaking was the Whole World to them.

Page-77

எபிரேயர்கள் அந்த சிறிய பாலைவன நாட்டை தங்கள் புராணக் கதையில் புனையப்பட்ட தேர்ந்தெடுக்கப்பட்ட நாடு, மக்கள் என்பதை அப்படியே ஏற்று அந்த சிறு பகுதியில் வாழ்ந்தனர். அந்தக் கடற்கரையேரப் பகுதியின் சிறு பகுதியே அவர்கட்கு முழு உலகமும்.

images

With Just a Few Exceptions, No Canaanite Or Israelite City before the Roman Period occupied more area than that of an American University Football Stadium, most Villages were hardly bigger than the Playing Field itself. King’ David’s Jerusalem is estimated to have measured about 300 x 1300 foot. Inside the City-walls houses would be crammed together according to no particular pattern, leaving room for Passages but not for Streets. Before the Greek Period there were no Public Building of the Kind that we take for granted, provided by the Municipal Government.

Pages- 87,88

ஒரு சில தவிற கானானிய அல்லது இஸ்ரேலின் எந்த ஒரு நகரமும் ரோமன் எகாதிபத்த்ய ஆட்சிக்குக் கீழ் (பொ.ச.மு.63) வரும் முன்பு ஒரு அமெரிக்க கால்பந்து மைதான அளவு தான் இருந்தது. கிராமங்கள் கால்பந்து விளையாடும் பகுதி மட்டும் தான். தாவிதின் ஜெருசலேம் என்பது 300’ -1300 அடிகல் கொண்டது. ஜெருசலேம் நகர எல்லைக்குள் வீடுகள் கொச்சை- கொச்சையாக ஒரு வரிசையின்றி, செல்வதற்கு சிறு பாதை மட்டும்- தெருச் சாலை கிடையாது. கிரேக்கர் ஆக்கிரமிப்புக்கு முன் பொது மக்களுக்கு என அரசினால் ஏற்படுத்தப்படும் எந்த ஒரு பொதுக் கட்டங்களும் கிடையாது என்பது பழைய ஏற்பாடு -கொண்டு வரலாற்று ஆசிரியர்கள் தரும் உணமை.

Foreign Countries appear in the OT only as Military Allies or Enemies of the Israelites or as the Habitat of Alien Gods; otherwise, not a Slightest interest is shown in them.

Page-77

The Best Opportunity for Economic Development, it might seem was One they never took; Commerce by Sea with Mediterranean always at their door, the Israelites stubbornly remained a Land Locked People. They were effectively Shut off from the Coast at first by the Philistines, but the warfare between the two, more had to do with the Philistines attempt to expand toward the east than with any desire of the Israelite to gain access to Sea. Although the Palestinian Coast has no natural Harbors south of Carmel, this need not have been a Permanent Obstacle.

The Israelites were Content to Let others – Phoenicians and Egyptians conduct their Merchant Shipping for them, almost as though they Believed the Covenant Language in its Narrowest Sense as a Promise of Land and Nothing Further.

It is clear from their writings in the OT THAT THE SEA WAS ALWAYS to them, had no significant part to Play in their Thought.

Pages 86-87.

வெளிநாடுகள் பழைய ஏற்பாட்டில் ஒரு ராணுவ ரீதியான் நட்போ-எதிரியோ என்றும், இஸ்ரேலின் சிறு எல்லைக் கடவுள் கர்த்தர் தவிற மற்ற கடவுள்களின் மக்கள் என்றே பார்த்தனர், மற்றபடு மற்றநாடுகளைப் பற்றி சிறு ஆர்வமும் இல்லை.

பொருளாதார வளர்ச்சிக்கு இருந்த எளிதான வாய்ப்பான- கடல் வாணிகம் எப்பொழுதுமே செய்யவில்லை, தங்களை அந்த தரைப் பகுதி எல்லையினுள் அட்க்கி வாழ்ந்தனர். ஆரம்பத்தில் பிலிஸ்தியரால் கடல் வாணிகத்தில் ஈடுபடுவதைத் தடுக்கப் பட்டாலும், இருவருக்குமான போர்கள் பைபிள்படி- பிலிஸ்தியர் இஸ்ரெலை ஆக்கிரமிப்பு தடுக்கவே. எந்த ஒரு தடுப்பும் இன்றியும் கடலோர நாடான இஸ்ரேலியர் கடல் வாணிகம் செய்யவே இல்லை.

இஸ்ரேலியர்-பக்கத்து நாட்டினர் பினீசியர்கள்- எகிப்தியர் கடல் வாணிகத்தில் ஈடுபடவிட்டனர். இஸ்ரேலியர்-பழைய ஏற்பாட்டின் மூட நம்பிக்கையான தேர்ந்தெடுக்கப் பட்ட பகுதி- தேர்ந்தெடுக்கப் பட்ட மக்கள் என்ற ஒரு சிறு விஷயத்திலேயே உழன்றனர்.

பழைய ஏற்பாட்டின்படி கடல் இஸ்ரேலியருக்கு ஒரு வாழ்க்கைப் பட்குதியாகவே இல்லை.

இன்னுமொரு நூல் – ஆரம்பத்தில் பார்த்தது.

• Finkelstein, Israel, and Silberman, Neil Asher, The Bible Unearthed : Archaeology’s New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of Its Sacred Texts, Simon & Schuster 2002, ISBN 0-684-86912-8

இஸ்ரேலின் தலைநகர்- டெல் அவிவ் பல்கலைக்கழக- அகழ்வாய்வுத் துறைப் பேராசிரியர் யூதர் -இஸ்ரேல் பிராஙெல்ஸ்டெயினும் ஐரோப்பிய அகழ்வாய்வு அறிஞர் சில்பர்மேனும் இணைந்து எழுதியது- “பைபிள் தோண்டப்பட்டது” என்னும் நூல்.

இந்நூல் தெளிவு படுத்தும் (முன்பு பல பைபிள் அறிஞர்கள் கூறியது தான்) உண்மைகள்.

1. இஸ்ரேலியர்- கானானிய மக்களே. பாபிலோனிலிருந்த வந்த ஒரு வெளியினம் அல்ல.

2. யாத்திர ஆகமம் என்னும் எகிப்தில் இருந்து மீட்டு வந்ந்தது வெறும் கட்டுக்கதை.

3. ஜெருசலேம் பொ.ச.மு. 7ம் நூற்றாண்டிற்குப் பிறகு தான் இஸ்ரேலியரிடம் வந்தது, அதுவும் ஒரு சிறு கிராமமாகவே இருந்தது.

4. யூதேயா- இஸ்ரேல் இரண்டும் சேர்ந்து ஒரு நாடக இருந்ததே இல்லை.

5. தாவீது- சாலமோன் – ஜெருசலேமிலிருந்து ஆண்டதானவை வெறும் கட்டுக்கதை, அவர்கள் சிறு கிராமத் தலைவர்கள்.

6. பிதாக்கள் எனப்படும் ஆபிரகாம்-ஈசாக்- யாக்கோபு வெவ்வேறு நபர்கள்- ஒரு குடும்பத்தைச் சேர்ந்தவர்கள் அல்லர், இஸ்ரேலின் பல்வேறு பகுதிகளின் வாய்வழிக்கதைகளின் கதைநாயகர்கள்.

7. ஜெருசலேம் தேவாலயம் என ஏது சாலமோனால் கட்டப் படவில்லை.

இந்த புத்தகம் பற்றிய தனி பதிவு விரைவில்.

Joshua and the Israelites crossing the Jordan

Image via Wikipedia

The good news is that there was no military invasion of Canaan and no mass genocide of Canaanites by the Israelites under Joshua. God is off the hook on this one.

Israel Finkelstein, Professor of Archaeology at Tel Aviv University, writes in The Quest for the Historical Israel(2007):

The progress in archaeological and anthropological research between the 1960s and 1980s brought about the total demise of the military conquest theory. (p.53)

He sums up 5 strands of archaeological evidence against the biblical conquest story.

  1. Key sites in the Book of Joshua’s conquest account — such as Jericho, Ai, Gibeon, Heshbon, Arad — were either uninhabited or insignificant small villages during the time of the Late Bronze Age.
  2. The collapse of the Canaanite Late Bronze Age city system was a gradual process over several decades — according to new finds at Lachish and Aphek, and reevaluations of the evidence from the older studies at Megiddo and Hazor.
  3. The collapse of the Late Bronze Age Canaan was part of a wider phenomenon that embraced the entire eastern Mediterranean.
  4. Egypt’s control of Canaan through the Late Bronze and early Iron Ages was strong enough to have prevented the sort of invasion depicted in the Book of Joshua.
  5. The rise of villages in the central hill country of Palestine has been found to have been “just one phase in a long-term, repeated, and cyclic process” of an alternating nomad-settlement pattern of Palestine’s inhabitants. It was not a unique event signalling the influx of a new ethnic group.

மேலும் வரலாற்று ஏசு பற்றி ஹாவர்ட் பல்கலைக் கழக புதிய ஏற்பாடுத்துறைத் தலைவர் ஹெல்மட் கொயெஸ்டர் சொல்வது:
imagesw
Introduction to the New Testament. New York: DeGruyter, 1982. 2nd ed., 2002-

The Quest for the Historic Kernels of the Stories of the Synoptic Narrative materials is very difficult. In fact such a quest is doomed to miss the point of such narratives, because these stories were all told in the interests of mission, edification, cult or theology (especially Christology) and they have no relationship to the question of Historically Reliable information.

Precisely those elements and features of such narratives which vividly lead to the story and derived not from Actual Hisorical events, but belong to the form and style of the Genres of the several Narrative types. Exact statements of names and places are almost always secondary and were often introduced for the first time in the literary stage of the Tradition. P-64 V-II

ஒத்த கதை சுவிகள்(மாற்கு, மத்தேயூ, லூக்கா) சொல்லும் புனைக் கதைகளுக்கும் வரலாற்றைத் தேடுவது மிகக் கடினம். வரலாற்று உண்மைகளைத் தேடுபவர்கள் – சுவிகதைகள் எதற்காகப் பு¨னெயப்பட்டுள்ளன என்பதை விட்டுவிடுவர், ஏனென்றால் சுவிகள் – மதம் பரப்ப, சிறு விஷயத்தைப் பெரிது படுத்திட, மூடநம்பிக்கைக் குழு அமைக்க, இறையியல்- (அடிப்படையில் இறந்த ஏசுவைத் தெய்வமாக்கும்) தன்மையில் வரையப்பட்டவை; சுவிகளுள் நம்பிக்கைக்குரிய வரலாற்று விபரங்கள் ஏதும் கிடையாது.

சுவிகளின் முக்கியமான புனையல்கள் நம்மைத் தள்ளிக் கொண்டு செல்லும் விவரங்கள் அடிப்படையில் வரலாற்றில் நடந்த சம்பவங்கள் இல்லை, பல விதமாக கதை செய்யும் யுக்தியில் புனையப்பட்டவை, சம்பவங்களில் வரும் நபர்கள் -நடந்த இடங்கள் முக்கியத்துவம் தராமல் பெரும்பாலும் முதல் முறை அவ்வப்போது தரப்படும்.

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இவையே நடுநிலை வரலாற்று ரீதியாக பைபிளியல் அறிஞர்கள் ஏற்கும் உண்மைகள்.

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28 Responses to பைபிள்-குலைக்கப் படுகிறதா -அகழ்வாய்வு உண்மைகளில்?

  1. tholkappiyar says:

    It is really interesting.

    The Christians have been boasting that their book has true Historicity.

    You are quoting from a Israel’s Leading University Author and Leading Archeologist.

    Well done

  2. devapriyaji says:

    The Bible Unearthed, but still covering its nonhistorical tracks
    By neilgodfrey
    Finkelstein and Silberman in their popular The Bible Unearthed assert that the biblical narratives of the conquests of David and the united kingdom of Solomon were fabricated in King Josiah’s time in order to build support for Josiah’s supposed dream of ruling all Israel from Samaria to Jerusalem. This interpretation is built up from two bases:

    the absence of any archaeological evidence for the conquests of David and the united kingdom of Solomon
    the belief that the bulk of biblical literature, in particular Deuteronomy, was composed before Babylon’s conquest of Judah
    Unfortunately for Finkelstein’s and Silberman’s argument, there is also a complete absence of archaeological evidence for the biblical story that Josiah removed all the idols from the land, and there is no suggestion in the biblical story that Josiah had any political or military ambitions to unite the former northern kingdom of Israel with Judah under his rule from Jerusalem.

    But an interesting thing happens when we do re-read the biblical narrative of David-Solomon and the succeeding kingdoms with the awareness that the story was to a large extent a fabrication, or at least with the awareness that there are no archaeological remains to indicate it really happened as told. Read with this awareness, certain narrative details jump out and tell the astute reader that the author darn well knew he was making it all up.

    After having created the mythical reign of Solomon — for which there is no hard evidence in the ground — the author had to somehow bring the story back to something closer to reality as he prepared readers for a tale that took them up to their own day. Look at the fantasy balloon he had to burst:

    a kingdom stretching from the Euphrates to the Nile (1 Kings 4:21);
    a man so renowned the kings from all nations of the earth came to visit Jerusalem (1 Kings 4:34);
    a kingdom of fabulous wealth (1 Kings 10:14-29);
    a king who worthy of inviting the very glory of God to earth (1 Kings 8:10-13);
    700 wives and 300 porcupines (1 Kings 11:3);
    idyllic peace and harmony — under a king whose name coincidentally meant “peace” (1 Kings 4:25);
    a mathematically and symbolically tidy 40 year reign (1 Kings 11:42).
    (It is amusing to read Israel Finkelstein’s observation that it is “the astute reader” who will notice that the story of Solomon is an idealization lying beyond the borders of reality!)

    But reading on in the knowledge that there is no historical basis for this fabulous kingdom, one notices the devices the author deploys to explain away his fabrication and inform his readers why no sign of such a kingdom remains to their day.

    How to plausibly remove such a widespread and unprecendently wealthy empire from the scene and restore a narrative of a people of more modest dimensions by magnitudes?

    Firstly, the northern kingdom that had in reality never been related to a southern kingdom had to be explained as an offshoot from Solomon’s empire. This was done by means of creating a story of an intrigue by one of Solomon’s servants who was also an Ephraimite (northern Israelite).

    Secondly, the author brings in an anonymous prophet to make pivotal pronouncements that will tie the beginning of the northern kingdom of Israel with events in its final era.

    Thirdly, and most vitally, the narrator brought in the Egyptian armies of Shishak (or Shoshenq 1) to strip the Jerusalem of Solomon’s wealth.

    Now it happened in the fifth year of king Rehoboam, that Shishak king of Egypt came up against Jerusalem. And he took away the treasures of the house of the LORD and the treasures of the king’s house; he took away everything. He also took away all the gold shields which Solomon had made. (1 Kings 14:25-26)

    It goes without saying that the Egyptian monument commemorating this Pharaoh’s invasion fails to mention Jerusalem, which archaeology informs us was an insignificant village at the time.

    But sure this invasion would serve to explain Judah’s poverty status in comparison with the kingdom of Egypt (and explain away the imaginative Solomonic wealth), but the author also had Syria to take care of, too. Syria also had long been known to far surpass Judah as a power. But the author takes care of this detail by having Judah pay out all that was left after Shishak’s plundering:

    Then Asa took all the silver and gold that was left of the treasures of the house of the LORD and the treasures of the king’s house, and delivered them into the hand of his servants. And King Asa sent them to Ben-Hadad . . . king of Syria, who dwelt in Damascus, saying, “Let there be a treaty between you and me, as there was between my father and your father. See, I have sent you a present of silver and gold . . . . (1 Kings 15:18-19)

    With that double whammy the creator of Solomon’s empire has brought readers back to the diminutive reality of small-time Judah.

    But what of Josiah’s kingdom near the time of the fall of Judah to Babylon and the story of the captivity? Here the author/redactor/compiler has saved the best for last.

    Even more extensively than Hezekiah before him, Josiah cleanses the land of all traces of worship not endorsed by the Jerusalem Temple and “the law of Moses” — not only in Judah but even from among the cities of Samaria!

    4. Then the king commanded Hilkiah the high priest and the priests of the second order and the doorkeepers, to bring out of the temple of the LORD all the vessels that were made for Baal, for Asherah, and for all the host of heaven; and he burned them outside Jerusalem in the fields of the Kidron, and carried their ashes to Bethel.
    5. He did away with the idolatrous priests whom the kings of Judah had appointed to burn incense in the high places in the cities of Judah and in the surrounding area of Jerusalem, also those who burned incense to Baal, to the sun and to the moon and to the constellations and to all the host of heaven.
    6. He brought out the Asherah from the house of the LORD outside Jerusalem to the brook Kidron, and burned it at the brook Kidron, and ground it to dust, and threw its dust on the graves of the common people.
    7. He also broke down the houses of the male cult prostitutes which were in the house of the LORD, where the women were weaving hangings for the Asherah.
    8. Then he brought all the priests from the cities of Judah, and defiled the high places where the priests had burned incense, from Geba to Beersheba; and he broke down the high places of the gates which were at the entrance of the gate of Joshua the governor of the city, which were on one’s left at the city gate.

    10. He also defiled Topheth, which is in the valley of the son of Hinnom, that no man might make his son or his daughter pass through the fire for Molech.
    11. He did away with the horses which the kings of Judah had given to the sun, at the entrance of the house of the LORD, by the chamber of Nathan-melech the official, which was in the precincts; and he burned the chariots of the sun with fire.
    12. The altars which were on the roof, the upper chamber of Ahaz, which the kings of Judah had made, and the altars which Manasseh had made in the two courts of the house of the LORD, the king broke down; and he smashed them there and threw their dust into the brook Kidron.
    13. The high places which were before Jerusalem, which were on the right of the mount of destruction which Solomon the king of Israel had built for Ashtoreth the abomination of the Sidonians, and for Chemosh the abomination of Moab, and for Milcom the abomination of the sons of Ammon, the king defiled.
    14. He broke in pieces the sacred pillars and cut down the Asherim and filled their places with human bones.
    15. Furthermore, the altar that was at Bethel and the high place which Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel sin, had made, even that altar and the high place he broke down. Then he demolished its stones, ground them to dust, and burned the Asherah.

    19. Josiah also removed all the houses of the high places which were in the cities of Samaria, which the kings of Israel had made provoking the LORD; and he did to them just as he had done in Bethel.
    20. All the priests of the high places who were there he slaughtered on the altars and burned human bones on them; then he returned to Jerusalem.

    (2 Kings 23:4-20)

    One would expect some evidence of such a total progrom to be uncovered by archaeologists, but no. Albright student William Dever makes this clear in Did God Have a Wife? The first time evidence “from silence” emerges to establish a land free from “idols” is the Persian period. Dever and others concede that there is no evidence for the success of these purported reforms of Josiah.

    The author has once again, as he did after creating the fanciful empire of Solomon, bring the story back to realistic dimensions. In this case it was a simple matter of having Josiah killed off in mid-term in battle with the Egyptian Pharaoh Necho, and being succeeded by less worthy progeny who “did evil in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his fathers had done.” (2 Kings 23:37)

    He had used the same device in covering up the fancy of Hezekiah’s reforms. In that case the son of good king Hezekiah, Manasseh, acted as “abominably” as all the wicked Canaanites whom Israel had originally replaced in the land (2 Kings 21:2). God was so offended by Manasseh’s return to evil that not even Josiah’s reforms could mollify his anger and determination to wipe out Judah (2 Kings 23:26-27).

    Israel Finkelstein reads into 2 Kings 23 some evidence that Josiah sought to expand his kingdom to include the former northern kingdom of Israel. But there is nothing in the text to suggest anything like this. The text of 2 Kings 22 and 23 is entirely about religious reforms. The entire story, from the fortuitous discovery of the Book of the Covenant in the Temple to the application of its orders throughout Israel and Judah is an attempt to establish some historical credibility for a newly written theological treatise, the Book of Deuteronomy.

    In my earlier post, Forgery in the Ancient World, I referred to other case/s where a newly concocted text is claimed to be ancient and miraculously discovered in strange circumstances. We all know from the modern case of the Book of Mormon that the practice is still as good as new. So the story of the discovery of the Book of Deuteronomy, and then the soon-to-be-followed failure of its reforms, smacks every bit of an authorial invention that sought establish credibility for a newly introduced text in his own day.

    I’ve outlined this argument from Philip Davies in more detail at In Search for Ancient Israel.

    Two other details further speak against Israel Finkelstein’s argument that Josiah was attempting a genuine new political and social unification of Israel and Judah:

    One is that it makes absolutely no sense, in my view, for a ruler to attempt to “unite” peoples by clashing head on with their long-held religious customs.
    The other is Thomas Thompson’s argument that there is no clear or indisputable evidence that the peoples/kingdoms of Israel and Judah had at any time before the sixth century b.c.e. had any history or notion of being a united people or administrative entity. There was nothing for Josiah to appeal to. The story in 2 Kings is about justifying a new theological text at the time of the author — nothing more. Simply creating a theological story of David and Solomon (and one which even illustrates the moral theme of Deuteronomy) after the fact could hardly make a difference to “facts on the ground” in the historical time of Josiah.

  3. devapriyaji says:

    HOLDING TIGHTLY ONTO A BLOODY SWORD
    J.P. Holding’s Defense of the Bible
    Myth of a Massive Exodus of Hebrews from Egypt and their Overnight Genocidal Conquest of a Land Flowing with Blood and Honey
    by Edward T. Babinski

    At “Theology Web” forums, JP Holding continues to defend ancient tales of Biblical massacres as sociologically and psychologically consistent (or at least not commonly unexpected) for their day. Perhaps he forgets that relying on such an argument only makes the Bible appear as soaked in questions of “situation ethics” as the secular philosophies he rejects. Such a “defense” of the Bible certainly reveals no innate superiority of Biblical ethics if he admits it was common for certain ancient cultures to practice genocide.

    In fact, Holding shouldn’t stop with justifying genocide as a common practice, since neither does the Bible condemn slavery, polygamy, or concubinage, nor refer to any of them as “sins.”

    Speaking of the non-sin of godly genocide it’s interesting to reflect on the case of Puritan colonists in America who arrived at the Biblical conclusion that God had led them to their new home in America which was to them, typologically speaking, a new land of Canaan, and the native Americans were like the Canaanites of old, worshippers of false gods and hence, if the natives refused to convert they were worthy of extermination. Or consider these further examples of “situation ethics” in the Bible: The same Moses who taught “Do not kill” also commanded the Israelites to “kill every [Midianite] male among the little ones.” (Num. 31:17) Even the littlest male child had to die? Hadn’t Moses or Yahweh ever heard of adoption?

    The word “Blessed/Happy” is used to describe two very different sentiments in Matthew 5:9 and Psalm 137:9, respectively: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons of God.” Fair enough, but what about this other use of the word, “blessed?” “Blessed will be the one who dashes your little ones against the rock.” Is enjoying revenge and listening to the craniums of babies smash on rocks anywhere near as “blessed” as promoting peace? Let’s hope not. Not by a mile.

    Other verses likewise depict both man and even God’s enjoyment over revenge: “The righteous will rejoice when he sees the vengeance, he will bathe his feet in the blood of the wicked” (Ps. 58:10) “The Lord will rejoice over you to destroy you” (Deut. 28:63)

    What’s really weird about such verses is that another verse in the same Bible tells you NOT to “rejoice” when your enemy falls in battle: “Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, and let not your heart be glad when he stumbles… If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink… He who rejoices at calamity shall not go unpunished.” (Proverbs 17:5; 24:17 & 25:21–Of course the “Proverbs” in the Bible consist of collected wise sayings, many of which might not be original to Israel, since scholars agree that parallels to such wise sayings have been found in collections of wisdom from neighboring cultures in Egypt or Babylonia.)

    Or consider Psalm 34:14, “Seek peace, and pursue it,” and add the pro-peace declaration at Jesus’s birth, “Peace on earth, good will toward men!” (Luke 2:14), and also add a further peace-promoting saying of Jesus, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons of God” (Mat. 5:9). And then compare those pro-peace messages with two very different saying of Jesus, “Do you suppose that I came to grant peace on earth? I came not to bring peace, but a sword.” (Mat. 10:34) “Do you suppose that I [Jesus] came to grant peace on earth? I tell you, no, but rather division… I have come to cast fire on the earth and how I wish it were already kindled.” (Luke 12:49,51) Ouch! Bad hair day, Jesus?

    Or consider this from Jesus, “Blessed are the merciful” (Matthew 5:7), and then read the following merciless commands of God: “Leave alive nothing that breathes… show them no mercy.” (Deut. 7:2); “The Lord hardened their hearts… that they might receive no mercy.” (Joshua 11:20); “I [the Lord] will not pity, nor spare, nor have mercy, but destroy them… A curse on him who is lax in doing the Lord’s work! A curse on him who keeps his sword from bloodshed.” (Jer. 13:14; 48:10–NIV)

    There’s even this command of Jesus, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matt. 5:44) that you can compare with “Chase your enemies and they will fall before you by the sword.” (Lev. 26:7) “A curse on him who keeps his sword from bloodshed… You are My war-club… with you I shatter old man and youth… young man and virgin.” (Jeremiah 48:10; 51:20,22)

    BUT ASIDE FROM HOLDING’S “SOCIOLOGICAL DEFENSE” there is no archeological evidence that a massive army of Hebrew invaders marched from Egypt to take over Cana, exterminating Canaanite city after city. No evidence exists of a massive Hebrew Exodus followed by the violent conquest of a multitude of Canaanite cities. Even those who do not deny an Exodus took place admit that the numbers of the Hebrews who left Egypt could not possibly have been as high as those given in the Bible.

    In fact today there are plenty of full-fledged professors of archeology, many of them Jewish, who agree that the Exodus story is way overblown, and that the evidence points in the direction of indigenous people in Canaan taking the place of other indigenous people in a relatively slow fashion. Native people who lived in the hills started moving to the valleys and spreading some new ideas and culture there. The process was relatively less a matter of genocidal conquests one after the other than native and natural assimilation of indigenous cultural changes. In fact the Hebrew language is not filled with Egyptian loan words at all, just as one might expect if their ancestors ALL came over from Egypt after having remained there for four and a half centuries. Instead, the Hebrew language is merely a dialect of the same root language that the Canaanites spoke, Akkadian. (The Catholic Encyclopedia understates the obvious when it admits, “Notwithstanding the long sojourn in Egypt [sic], the number of Egyptian words that have found a place in the Hebrew vocabulary is exceedingly small.”)

  4. devapriyaji says:

    t Ain’t Necessarily So

    Sunday January 19 2003

    Summary:http://www.abc.net.au/compass/s766064.htm

    Part one of a 3-part series where British journalist and former Beirut hostage John McGrath looks at the controverisal debates over the archaeology of the early history of Israel and Judah and its challenge to The Bible.

    Story:

    What did the prophet Jeremiah mean when he denounced the “Torah” – which we know as the Five Books of Moses – as “lies from the false pen of scribes”?

    It was once almost universally accepted that the Old Testament was a truthful account of the past. Now the early part of the story is generally accepted as mythical – despite the best efforts of numerous television programmes to find Noah’s Ark, Sodom and Gomorrah and the exact location of the Garden of Eden!

    But it now appears that almost the whole thing may be a work of fiction. Archaeologists and biblical scholars are now asserting that the Exodus of the Israelites from Egypt and their conquest of the Promised Land of Canaan simply never happened. Some even argue that the Israelites, far from being divinely -inspired radicals who replaced Canaanite idolatry wit the worship of a single God, were simply a group who emerged from the Canaanites who continued the old religion until an astonishingly late date. It is being said that there is no evidence at all to show that David and Solomon rules Israel from Jerusalem – or that their great kingdom even existed! Although there clearly was a smaller kingdom of Israel at a later date, there seems to be decisive evidence that the Israelites worshipped a goddess, a consort of their main deity, right up until their destruction in 722 BC.

    John McCarthy spent five years as a hostage of Islamic Jihad in Lebanon. He was given a Bible to read, and saw in the story told there the roots of the political problems that had led to his incarceration. In this startling six-part series, he returns to the Middle East to discover whether there is any truth at all in the Old Testament account of early Israel, or whether, as he puts it, “people have been at war for thousands of years because they believe a fairy-tale”.

    In the course of the series he visits numerous archaeological sites (and takes part in some of the excavations), meets distinguished scholars who were too frightened to publish their finds or reveal even the existence of their research, and finally reaches a conclusion as to how, when and why the Old Testament history was written.

    Programme 1: THE WALLS COME TUMBLIN’ DOWN
    John McCarthy introduces himself. Having had the Bible as his reading matter while a hostage in Beirut, and seeing the connection between the story told in the Old Testament and his own predicament, he wants to discover if the history there is really true. At the British Museum he is told that there is no evidence for the ancient Israelites, so he goes to find out. Beginning at the Jordan, he goes to Jericho, where “Joshua’s Walls” were supposedly found by John Garstang. He is shown around by American archaeologist, Professor William G. Dever. Dever explains that subsequent excavations by Dame Kathleen Kenyon revealed that Garstang had misdated his finds. To learn how finds are dated, John visits the excavation at Tel Rahov, where Professor Amihai Mazar shows him the stratigraphic structure, and he sees how pottery is collected and examined. Back at Jericho, the current excavator, Hamden Taha, says that he can find no trace of any occupation when Joshua supposedly arrived. But the site is controlled by the Palestine National Authority, and they do not discourage pilgrim tourists by revealing that Joshua cannot have really captured Jericho.

    Israeli archaeologist Schlomo Bunimovitz explains that different generations of archaeologists have had different agendas: clerics in the 1930’s, and ex-military Israelis in the 1950’s and 60’s, were interested in validating the Old Testament stories. Now archaeologists are producing a new story, and Professor Ze’ev Hertzog explains that it can no longer be accepted that Israelites came from Egypt and conquered Canaan. John points out that Herzog comes from Tel Aviv, a secular city, and contrasts it with the more religious city of Jerusalem. Herzog says that he is trying to empower today’s secular Israelis in their political battles with religious groups, but what he says is then denounced by the leader of the Secular Party (Shinui) as providing anti-zionists with ammunition. Professor Amnon Ben-Tor says that it is unfortunate but unavoidable that this kind of archaeological issue is given a political dimension. John finds that the issue is more disturbing to secular Israelis than religious ones; an Orthodox Rabbi simply asserts that the archaeologists have yet to find the proper evidence. John then visits the excavation at Hazor, where Ben-Tor demonstrates evidence of a destructive fire that appears to correspond to the Biblical description of Joshua’s conquest, and argues that the Bible story cannot yet be dismissed. But then Professor Israel Finkelstein points out that at the time in question Canaan was an Egyptian province, a fact of which the Biblical authors seem unaware, and takes John to a substantial Egyptian garrison site near Tel Aviv. John’s conclusion is that it seems that something is clearly wrong with the Old Testament story. A conclusion which seems to be re-enforced when he says that in the next episode he will be investigating doubts that the Israelites were even monotheists.

    The programme begins at the Western Wall in Jerusalem, where a near-riot is taking place as male Orthodox Jews try to prevent a group of women from holding a service. One of the women observes that if they had tried to dance and sign like Miriam, they would be in prison. John points out that it seems the Bible has been edited to change our understanding of what women were doing: although Miriam is called a Prophet, none of her prophetic statements are included.

    Oddly, it seems that the commonest objects found in Israelite archaeological sites are female figurines – evidently idols. Rabbi Dr. Jonathan Magonet explains that a number of Hebrew words are translated as “God”. One such term, the word used in the first sentence of the Book of Genesis, is a plural. Professor William Dever says it is now known that the Israelites worshipped several gods including a goddess, Ashera, and Diana Edelman says that she was a widely worshipped fertility goddess. Dever tells John that when he first discovered an Israelite inscription proving that Ashera was being worshipped he was afraid to publish it, and kept it secret until others found more evidence that the God of the Israelites did have a Goddess as a consort. Visiting the excavation at Tel Rehov, John is shown an Israelite shrine which seems to be a place for worshipping three or four gods and the goddess.

    On the track of more evidence of Israelite religion, John is taken by Zvi Lederman to the fortress of Arad, where a full-size Temple has been discovered – the only one ever found from the Kingdom of Judah. Although strikingly devoid of images, it appears to contain evidence of the worship of more than one deity. At the Bible Lands Museum in Jerusalem he is told that the Bible’s description of Solomon’s Temple also indicates the presence of idols and “graven images”, as used by other religions in the area.

    While the Bible does not conceal the idolatrous aspects of Solomon’s Temple, it does seem to conceal the worship of the Goddess. Diana Edelmen argues that this has been done by inserting small grammatical changes – which so mystified the translators of the Authorised Version that the Goddess Ashera became a grove of trees when she was put into English.

    The programme then picks up John again at Arad, where he hears how the Temple there was deliberately closed down and put out of use by King Hezekiah at the end of the 8th century BC, as part of a process of centralising all worship in Jerusalem. This policy was a response to the destruction of the northern kingdom, Israel, by the Assyrians and the total political isolation of Judah. It was accompanied by a major assault on the worship of Ashera, an assault later resumed with more vigour by King Josiah. The Bible itself documents the resistance of women to what was being done.

  5. devapriyaji says:

    PROGRAMME 2: THE PROMISED LAND

    Archaeologists now say that the Israelites did not come to Canaan as slaves from Egypt. Where did they come from? In the third part of this startling series John McCarthy looks at the new evidence of Israelite settlement, and the real reason why there are said to be “no human remains”.

    According to the Bible 12 cities were destroyed by Joshua, yet there is only archaeological records confirming the destruction of 1 city, Huzor. But the Egyptian records say that Pharaoh Seti destroyed the city. Although the book of Joshua describes the conquest of Canaan, another book of the Bible, the book of Judges, says something different. Joshua attacks and conquers, in Judges they are up in the hill country and can’t get down to the planes because there are too many military obstacles in the way.

    Israeli Archaeologists made startling discoveries in the hill country. They evidence they’ve found of more than 200 sites, is that the area was empty in the late Canaanite period, and it has been filled up with new sites. Movement can be traced from East to West, exactly how the Bible explains the entrance through the Jordan into the Hill country of Canaan.

    John is taken to the site of one excavated village, from the time of the rise of Israel, where there are the remains of a building considered a new kind of house, the design of which was unknown in the country before these settlements began. Are these the first homes of the Israelites? The other surprise is that pig bones disappear from the archaeological records at this time. At the same time in the lowlands there are a lot of pig bones. It is surprising to see echoes of a Kosher diet in these settlements, which appear when the Bible says the Israelites arrived from Egypt. But people in these settlements came not as slaves from Egypt, but had moved here from other places in Canaan.

    There is a contemporary record of a military force entering Canaan from Egypt. But it’s not a force of Israelites led by Moses and Joshua, it’s a force of Egyptians led by Pharaoh. Egypt ruled Canaan and Merenptah crushed disobedience in Canaan around 1207BC. The only surviving picture that exists on ancient Israelites shows them being crushed beneath the hooves of Egyptians horses. So there were Israelites, but we know nothing about them. According to an Egyptian Pharaoh in about 1200BCE, there were people living in the hills called Israelites. It was the first time they’d been mentioned, and he said he wiped them out. Apart from what is written in the Bible, they are not mentioned again by anyone for the next 350 years.

    According to archaeologists there are no human remains. Although unofficially there are many remains, but due to religious fanaticism and threats to their life, no research has been done on these remains. But tests have been done on the Arab and Jewish people of the middle east, and found that they have deep ancestral links and that their genetic affinity is very close. Palestinian Arabs see themselves as being directly descended from Biblical Canaanites. This discovery that they share a genetic heritage with modern Jews, seems to connect with the idea that Israelites and Canaanites were the same people. Some Palestinians say that that makes them the true inheritors of any Israelite claim to the land.

    John visits a strange site, with a complicated structure of large un-hewn stones, with an installation full of ashes with bones. When tested all the bones belonged to Kosher animals, which were permitted for sacrifice. In the book of Joshua there is a detailed description of a great ceremony, which the site would seem to confirm. Other scholars are uncomfortable with the identification of Joshua’s alter. Not the site, but the story. In 620BC the King wanted to reform worship in Jerusalem, and it looks as though the book of Joshua was produced at this time. The scribes who supported the King and his reform, also said they had found a scroll of God’s teaching, which was evidently unknown until they produced it. According to the prophet Jeremiah they were faking history. Moses instructions to build the altar and what to do there, are in this book, which scholars don’t think was written until 600 years after Joshua’s day. But does that mean it never happened?

    Amnon Ben-Tor, excavating at Hazor, is convinced that the authors of the Bible used historical records. Thousands of ancient letters and financial records have been found in the near East, and some of them mention a Ruler of Hazor called JAVEEN? The name of the King of Hazor in the book of Joshua. But he cannot have been Joshua’s enemy, as he died 500 years earlier. There is also the story of Jerusalem becoming the capital city of David around 1000BC, but archaeologists say there is no trace of that city? Some scholars say that Solomon never existed, that Jerusalem was never the capital of David, and that there is no evidence of a united monarchy under David and Solomon as depicted in the Bible. And there is no reference to David’s Jerusalem anywhere outside of the Bible. And the only reference to the Israelites known in Egypt. It is a record of how the Pharaoh Merenptah crushed all opposition in other lands, and it is generally dated around 1200BC, around the time when the Israelites should have been conquering Canaan. But in the Bible the Israelites were not destroyed by Pharaoh, but took over the land and created a great Kingdom ruled by King David of Jerusalem.

    But archaeologist have yet to find positive evidence of Israelites in Jerusalem in the 10th Century, or indeed evidence of inhabitants in the City of David during this time.
    But does a lack of evidence mean that they did not exist? John goes in search of Goliath’s people. A few years after Merenptah said he had wiped out the Israelites, his successor, Ramses III, had to deal with a massive invasion of people from the sea. Among them were the Philistines. They ended up settling on the Canaanite coast. An excavation of Ashkelon shows the remains of the Philistines. According to the remains Ashkelon was a thriving city. They also show that the Philistines come out of the world of the Ancient Greeks, which makes sense of some things in the Bible which has seemed baffling. In the story of David and Goliath, David is not wearing armour or a helmet, but Goliath is. The Canaanites and the Israelites did not have helmets, but the Greeks did.

    There is much evidence of the Philistine culture, along with bath tubs and cooking utensils, which contrasts with the lack of evidence of a population at Jerusalem. The more detail discovered about the Philistines, the more accurate the old testament seems about them, but the Bible describes the Philistines as always being in the region, when in fact they were new invaders. With these invasions many scholars have suggested that the Israelites were Canaanite refugees farming in the hills because of the upheaval on the coastal planes.
    Was the existence of King David mythical? Many scholars thought so, but in 1993 veteran Israeli archaeologist Avraham Biran was excavating Tel-Dan, the old city of Dan in the far north of Israel. Here he found a basalt stone with an inscription referring to King David, written about 100 years after David’s time. But with the lack of any other references to him, the question of what kind of King he was remained.
    John McCarthy then goes in search of Solomon.

  6. devapriyaji says:

    PROGRAMME 3: SOLOMON

    Solomon built the Temple – but did he exist at all? In the third part of this startling series, John visits sites that were supposedly built by Solomon, but which some archaeologists say were built by quite different rulers. Perhaps the tiny community of Samaritans have a more accurate history.

    After being unable to find evidence of life in the City of David during King David’s reign, John McCarthy visits King Solomon’s mines in search of signs of Solomon. Once he arrives though, he is told that they were not in fact, Solomon’s mines. The age of King Solomon is recorded in the Bible as the one time when an Israelite King ruled the whole land and it was at peace. The mines were supposed to have given King Solomon his fabulous wealth. But there is no evidence of King Solomon in the area, instead there is evidence of Egyptian use during the 12th Century. But in fact the mines do not even appear in the Bible, they are just a 19th Century story. Jonathan Tubb of the British Museum states there is no evidence for King Solomon and his kingdom.

    Magido is a city said in the Bible to have been re-built by Solomon. McCarthy visits the site, where structures excavated in the 30’s were identified as King Solomon’s stables. Baruch Halpern informs John that the ruins probably weren’t Solomon’s, and that they probably weren’t stables. One theory is that in fact the site produced opium, and there is evidence of the export of drugs from the area in that time. And the site is dated as 9th Century, around the time of Ahab. Then at Hazor they discover what appears to be a pipe.
    According to the Bible King Solomon rebuilt three cities including Hazor and Magido. In the 1950’s an Israeli archaeologist found complex gate house in all three, and declared them King Solomon’s gates. But the gates were built at the time of Ahab, later than Solomon. Archaeologists have yet to find evidence of Solomon’s temple. Though the site does confirm some of the stories in the Bible relating to Ahab and Jezebel.

    Amihai Mazar is searching a few miles from Magido at Tel-Rehov in attempt to find evidence of Israelites living in this area during the 10th Century. Mazar believes that pottery found at this site can be associated with the time of Solomon. But Mazar also believes that Solomon was not as great as the Bible painted him.

    There is another theory proposed by the Samaritans, people who claim to be descended from the original inhabitants of Ahab’s kingdom. The Samaritans believe that Jerusalem was not that important until after the time of Solomon, with this theory gaining academic support.
    Until the discovery of the dead sea scrolls, the earliest version of the testament was a 1000 years old, but these are a thousand years older than that. Yet stories of Solomon and his temple are much earlier.

    The Old Testament description of the ancient Israelites is quite different from the story now being revealed. John McCarthy concludes this series by investigating when and why the Old Testament was written. Was it connected with events that led to the destruction of Jerusalem?’

    In 722 BC the forces of Assyria moved south and simply removed Israel from the map. They made a note that they deported 27,290 inhabitants. The history of Israel was over. This also meant that for the first time in ancient near eastern history, the whole region is under one political control with a blending of peoples. But the kingdom of Judah did not submit, and Jerusalem was swelling with many refugees arriving. By the end of the 8th Century BC all the nations surrounding Judah vanished, with all their respective gods being cast down while the Assyrians imposed their own. After battles with Judah, all that remained was Jerusalem and their own god.

  7. Aanandan says:

    Sir,

    I am reading slowly, but the authors of book- Bible Unearthed’s Reputation and the findings are really disproving the basics of bible.

  8. Aanandan says:

    There were claims that Babel tower was found- please give truths

  9. Mahesh Grigori says:

    Sir,

    You have highlighted the Archeological truths, but it contrasts Bible- where as our churches tell us that Bible is proved by these Researches.

    Please Explain.

  10. Archaeological evidence
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David

    The Tel Dan Stele

    A fragment of an Aramaean victory stele discovered in 1993 at Tel Dan and dated c.850-835 BC clearly contains the Aramaic phrase ביתדוד, bytdwd. This phrase can be translated as either 1) beytdwd (reading the w as a long-o vowel)—meaning “house of kettle,” “house of uncle,” or “house of beloved”—or else 2) beytdawid (reading the w as a consonant), meaning “house of David.”[81] “If the reading of בית דוד [House of David] on the Tel Dan stele is correct, … then we have solid evidence that a 9th-century BC Aramean king considered the founder of the Judean dynasty to be somebody named דוד” [David].[82] The Mesha Stele from Moab, dating from approximately the same period, may also contain the name David in line 12, where the interpretation is uncertain, and in line 31, where one destroyed letter must be supplied.[83] Kenneth Kitchen has proposed that an inscription of c. 945 BC by the Egyptian Pharaoh Shoshenq I mentions “the highlands of David.”[84] An expert who has examined the Tel Dan stele feels that this has not been widely accepted.[85]
    City of David and Judah, ca. 1000 B.C.E. onward
    The interpretation of the archeological evidence on the extent and nature of Judah and Jerusalem in the 10th century BC is a matter of fierce debate. Israel Finkelstein and Ze’ev Herzog of Tel Aviv University do not believe the archeological record supports the view that Israel at that time was a major state, but rather was a small tribal kingdom, although both Finkelstein and Silberman do accept that David and Solomon were real kings of Judah about the 10th century BC.[86] They claim that surveys of surface finds aimed at tracing settlement patterns and population changes have shown that between the 16th and 8th centuries BC, a period which includes the biblical kingdoms of David and Solomon, the entire population of the hill country of Judah was no more than about 5,000 persons, most of them wandering pastoralists, with the entire urbanised area consisting of about twenty small villages.[87]
    According to Ze’ev Herzog “the united monarchy of David and Solomon, which is described by the Bible as a regional power, was at most a small tribal kingdom”.[88] Conversely William Dever, in his What Did the Biblical Writers Know and When Did They Know It?, holds that the archaeological and anthropological evidence supports the broad biblical account of a Judean state in the 10th century BC.[89]
    The Bronze and Iron Age remains of the City of David, the original urban core of Jerusalem identified with the reigns of David and Solomon, were investigated extensively in the 1970s and 1980s under the direction of Yigal Shiloh of the Hebrew University, but failed to discover significant evidence of occupation during the 10th century BC,[90] although recent finds may dispute that.[91] In 2005, Eilat Mazar found a Large Stone Structure which she claimed was David’s Palace.[92][93]
    The biblical account

  11. Related archeological artifacts
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solomon's_Temple
    In 2007, artifacts dating to the eighth to sixth centuries BCE were described as being possibly the first physical evidence of human activity at the Temple Mount during the First Temple period. The findings included animal bones; ceramic bowl rims, bases, and body sherds; the base of a juglet used to pour oil; the handle of a small juglet; and the rim of a storage jar.[13][14]
    By 2006, the Temple Mount Antiquities Salvage Operation had recovered numerous artifacts dating from the 8th to 7th centuries BCE from dirt removed in 1999 by the Islamic Religious Trust (Waqf) from the Solomon’s Stables area of the Temple Mount. These include stone weights for weighing silver and a First Temple period bulla, or seal impression, containing ancient Hebrew writing, which may have belonged to a well-known family of priests mentioned in the Book of Jeremiah.[15]
    A thumb-sized ivory pomegranate measuring 44 millimetres (1.7 in) in height bearing an ancient Hebrew inscription “Sacred donation for the priests in the House of YHVH” was once believed by some scholars to have adorned a sceptre used by the high priest in Solomon’s Temple. It was considered the most important item of biblical antiquities in the Israel Museum’s collection.[16] However, in 2004, some experts alleged it was a part of an antiquities fraud. Now it is believed that the artifact dates back to the 14th or 13th century BCE and scholars are not able to reach a conclusive result as to whether the inscription is authentic or a modern forgery.[17][18][19]

  12. ஜெஹோவாவும் சுடலைமாடனும்

    சந்திரசேகரேந்திர சரஸ்வதி பதிவு சில நண்பர்கள் மனதை புண்படுத்திவிட்டது. அதனால் நினைவு இருக்கும்போதே ஜாக்கிரதையாக ஒரு Disclaimer கொடுத்துவிடுகிறேன். இது எவர் மனதையும் புண்படுத்த எழுதப்பட்டதில்லை. பழைய ஏற்பாட்டை (Old Testament) தெய்வத்தின் வரலாறாக மதிப்பவர்களுக்கு இது irreverent ஆகத் தெரியலாம். எனக்கு பழைய ஏற்பாடு இலக்கியம்+வரலாறு+legend மட்டுமே என்பதை முடிந்தால் நினைவு வைத்துக் கொள்ளுங்கள்.

    பழைய ஏற்பாடு மிக சுவாரசியமான புத்தகம். யூத, கிருஸ்துவ, இஸ்லாமியர்களின் புராணங்கள் என்று சொல்லலாம். இஸ்லாமியர்களின் version சில வேறுபாடுகள் உடையது.

    நான் பழைய ஏற்பாட்டை முதல் முறையாக படித்தபோது எனக்கு ஒரு பதினாறு வயது இருக்கலாம். எனக்கு எப்போதுமே இந்த புராணம், இதிகாசம் எல்லாம் படிப்பதில் விருப்பம் உண்டு. மகாபாரதத்தில் பெரிய பித்தே உண்டு. ஆங்கிலம், தமிழ் இரண்டிலும் படித்தேன். ஆங்கில புத்தகத்தில் begat என்ற வார்த்தையை முதல் முறையாக பார்த்தது இன்னும் ஞாபகம் இருக்கிறது.

    நான் புதிய ஏற்பாட்டை முழுமையாக படித்தத்தில்லை. ஆனால் பழைய ஏற்பாட்டின் கடவுளுக்கும் (ஜெஹோவா), புதிய ஏற்பாட்டின் கடவுளுக்கும் எக்கச்சக்க வித்தியாசம்! புதிய ஏற்பாட்டில் தேவ குமாரன் ஏசு ஒரு கன்னத்தில் அறைந்தால் மறு கன்னத்தை காட்டு என்கிறார்; ஆனால் பழைய ஏற்பாட்டின் ஜெஹோவாவிடம் (ஏசுவின் அப்பா என்று வைத்துக் கொள்ளுங்களேன்) இந்த பாச்சா எல்லாம் பலிக்காது. அவர் மிக கடுமையானவர். அவரிடம் வைத்துக் கொண்டால் தீர்த்துவிடுவார். தன்னை வழிபடும் யூதர்களை எகிப்திலிருந்து மீட்க ஒவ்வொரு எகிப்தியனின் முதல் ஆண் குழந்தையை கொல்லத் தயங்கவே மாட்டார். சிறு குழந்தைகள் என்ன பாவம் செய்தன, ஜெஹோவாவின் வலிமையை காண்பிக்க அப்பாவி குழந்தைகளை கொல்வது சரியா என்று யாரும் கேட்கக் கூடாது. அவருக்கு நான்-வெஜ்தான் பிடிக்கும் போல, அதனால் ஏபல் ஆட்டை பலி கொடுப்பதை ஏற்றுக் கொள்வார், ஆனால் உழவன் கெய்னின் படையலை ஏற்க மாட்டார். கெய்ன் கடுப்பாகி தம்பி ஏபலை கொன்றுவிடுவான். எனக்கென்னவோ கொலையில் ஜெஹோவாவுக்கு பங்கிருப்பதாகத்தான் தோன்றுகிறது!

    அவருடைய முடிவுகள் ஏன் எடுக்கப்படுகின்றன என்று அவரை வழிபடுபவர்களுக்கு புரிய வைக்க வேண்டிய அவசியமே இல்லை. சும்மா போகிற போக்கில் ஆபிரகாமின் சந்ததியினர் மட்டுமே தமக்கு பிடித்தமானவர் என்று சொல்வார். அப்புறம் யூதர்கள் என்ன தவறு செய்தாலும் மன்னித்து விட்டுவிடுவார். மிச்ச பேர் எல்லாம் ஏன் பிறப்பிலேயே பாபாத்மாவா? அப்படி பிறவியிலேயே பாபாத்மாக்களை ஏன் படைத்தார்? (நம்மூர் ஜாதி மாதிரி இல்லை?) ஜெஹோவா என்னை துதியுங்கள், என்னை துதியுங்கள் என்று எப்போதும் யூதர்கள் பின்னாலேயே மட்டும் ஓடுவார், மற்ற மனிதர்கள் “போலிக்” கடவுள்களை கும்பிட்டால் அவருக்கு அதைப் பற்றி அக்கறை இல்லை. அல்லா காஃபிர்களை படைக்கவும் படைக்கிறார், அப்புறம் காஃபிர்களுக்கு நரகத்தையும் விதிக்கிறார்போல!

    நம்மூரில் சுடலைமாடன் பயமுறுத்துவார், எனக்கு படையல் வைக்காவிட்டால் கிராமத்தை அழித்துவிடுவேன், மழை பெய்யாது, ஊரில் வியாதி வரும் என்றெல்லாம் பூசாரி மேல் ஏறி சொல்வார். ஜெஹோவாவும் அந்த மாதிரிதான். ஒரே ஒரு வித்தியாசம் – மாடன் அடுத்த தெய்வங்களுக்கு படையல் வைப்பதை தடுப்பதில்லை. ஜெஹோவா எனக்கு மட்டும்தான் படையல் என்று பிடிவாதம் பிடிக்கிறார்!

  13. raj. சொல்கிறார்:

    ஆகஸ்ட் 10, 2010 at 5:04 மு.பகல்
    ஒருவன் உன்னை வலது கன்னத்தில் அறைந்தால், அவனுக்கு மறு கன்னத்தையும் திருப்பிக் கொடு.(பைபிள் புதிய ஏற்பாடு மத்தேயு 5 : 39)

    ** ஓரு கன்னத்தில் அறைந்தால் மறு கன்னத்தைக் காட்டு…??? ** ஒரு கிறிஸ்தவராவது செயல்படுத்துவாரா? **

    இதை உபதேசித்த இயேசுவாவது செயல்படுத்திக் காட்டினாரா? என்றால் அதுவும் கிடையாது என்று பைபிளே சான்று பகர்கின்றது.**

    புதிய ஏற்பாடு பைபிள்: யோவான்:18 : 22 – 23. ல் இப்படி அவர் சொன்னபொழுது, சமீபத்தில் நின்ற சேவகரில் ஒருவன்: பிரதான ஆசாரியனுக்கு இப்படியா உத்தரவு சொல்லுகிறது என்று, இயேசுவை ஒரு அறை அறைந்தான்..

    இயேசு அவனை நோக்கி: நான் தகாதவிதமாய்ப் பேசினதுண்டானால், தகாததை ஒப்புவி; நான் தகுதியாய்ப் பேசினேனேயாகில், என்னை ஏன் அடிக்கிறாய் என்றார்.**

    ஒரு போலி மாயையை ஏற்படுத்தி தங்கள் மதத்தைப் பரப்புவதற்காக வேண்டி இயேசு இப்படி போதித்தார் என்று பிரச்சாரம் செய்து கொண்டிருக்கின்றனர்.

    “க்ளிக்” செய்து படியுங்கள்.

    கிறிஸ்துவ போலிமாயைக்கு சவால்?- http://bibleunmaikal.blogspot.com/2010/07/blog-post_19.html

  14. virutcham சொல்கிறார்:

    ஆகஸ்ட் 10, 2010 at 1:53 பிற்பகல்
    இந்த பழைய/புதிய ஏற்பாடுகள் பற்றி எனக்கு எதுவும் தெரியாது. பள்ளியில் படிக்கும் காலங்களில் ரொம்ப பாவமா (பார்க்க அப்படித்தான் தோன்றும்) சில பெண்கள் வழி மறித்து கடவுளை (ஏசுவா, எஹோவாவா என்பது புரியும் வயது இல்லை. காதில் கழுத்தில் ஒற்றும் இல்லாமல் மூளியாய் இருப்பார்கள் என்பதால் பெந்தெகொஸ்தே வகையாக இருக்க வேண்டும் என்று பின்னாளில் ஊகிக்க முடிந்தது ) ஜெபித்து விட்டு புத்தகத்தை திறந்தால் மறு நாள் தேர்வில் வரப்போகும் கேள்வி சரியாக நம் கண்ணில் படும் என்பது மாதிரியான அற்புதங்களை போதித்து செல்வார்கள்.

    சுடலை மாடன் எங்கள் தெருவில் காவல் தெய்வம். வெளியூர் செல்லும் போதெல்லாம் அம்மா தேங்காய் உடைத்து, உண்டியலில் காசு போட்டுத் தான் இப்போதும் செல்வார்கள். அம்மாவுக்காக நாங்களும் செய்தாக வேண்டும். சிலர் கிராமங்களில் இருந்து வந்து அங்கே பலி கொடுப்பதை பார்த்து இருக்கிறேன். ஆனால் பலி கேட்கும் சாமி என்பது எனக்கு புது தகவல். இப்படி எங்கும் எழுதி வைக்கப் பட்டுள்ளதா என்ன? இது சிலரின் பாரம்பரியப் பழக்கம் மட்டுமே என்று நினைக்கிறேன்.

  15. RV சொல்கிறார்:

    ஆகஸ்ட் 12, 2010 at 1:05 மு.பகல்
    விருட்சம், பலி கொடுப்பவர்கள் சாமி பலி கேட்குது என்றுதானே சொல்வார்கள்?
    வஜ்ரா, பழைய ஏற்பாட்டில் பார்த்தால் அவ்வப்போது யூதர்கள் ஜெஹோவாவை மறந்துவிடுவார்கள். ஜெஹோவா அவர்களை தன்னை வழிபட வைக்க ஏதாவது செய்வார். அதைத்தான் அப்படி எழுதி இருக்கிறேன்.
    ராஜ், நீங்கள் சொல்லும் நிகழ்ச்சி நினைவில்லை. ஆனால் அவர் அப்படி சொல்வதாக புதிய ஏற்பாட்டில் நிச்சயமாக சொல்லப்படுகிறது.

  16. alfredreen says:

    And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.

  17. alfredreen says:

    ஓரு கன்னத்தில் அறைந்தால் மறு கன்னத்தைக் காட்டு…???

    இதை உபதேசித்த இயேசுவாவது செயல்படுத்திக் காட்டினாரா? they crucified him,Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do

    • Jesus resisted when he was beaten and questioned who beat him and cursed Judas

  18. alfredreen says:

    . And one of them smote the servant of the high priest, and cut off his right ear.
    51. And Jesus answered and said, Suffer ye thus far. And he touched his ear, and healed him.

    • This incident is not in Mark and is a fabrication in other gospels

  19. joseph says:

    devapriyaji please i think you r a brahmin (jathy veri peditha) transulate your vedhas in tamil and realease it in your website dont criticise other religions explain who is hindu what is hindusim with vedhas (ric yagur sama and adharvana)

    • south says:

      Any faith that originated in indian sub continent and based on Dharma/karma comes under Hindu fold. A person who follows any such faith is a Hindu.

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  23. Dharmasenan says:

    In Flanders, the Catholic-dominated press has kept very quiet about Dr. Somers� approach to Jesus. Most theologians have kept mum. The Vatican has not reacted. It had put some Jesuits to work on this theory, but they did not publicly speak out. Perhaps they are aware of its explosive potential. Perhaps they are, on the contrary, not worried at all, because earlier psychopathological studies about Jesus had also not toppled Christianity.

    But those earlier theories had been put forward by staunch atheists who had been a bit intemperate and triumphalistic in the presentation of their case, which made it sound less scientific and less convincing. Moreover, psychology then was not what it is now. Then, there was an Albert Schweitzer to write an in-depth reply which had convinced many believers that there was nothing to worry, that this was just another of those far-fatched hypotheses that anti-Christian skeptics used to come up with.1 But now, no man of the stature of Albert Schweitzer has come forward with a reply. And this time, the psycho-analysis of Jesus is being presented sobrely by a man who was a faithful servant of the Church for most of his life, and who knows not only psychology, in a more advanced form, but also the philological and theological aspects of Bible research.

    A comment on Dr. Somers� work was written by the KUL (Catholic University Leuven) theologian Leo Kenis, who denounced the book as assuming the Bible text to be historical, and as not understanding the Biblical language game, etc.2 A leftist weekly has collected a few more reactions, notably those of Prof. Etienne Vermeersch, another ex-Jesuit, now staunch opponent of Church and religion; and of Prof. Edward Schillebeeckx, the famous Flemish theologian teaching in Nijmegen, Holland. Let us have a brief look at their objections.

    1. �Paraphrenia does not exist. It is an outdated category in psychopathology, not even mentioned in American manuals of psychiatry.�

    It is a fact that in the US, the paraphrenia syndrome has been subsumed under the more general category of paranoia. But in continental Europe, the fine distinction between the two is certainly being maintained. Even otherwise, it would only be a change in name-tag: the diagnosis of at least a psychopathological condition of the paranoia family would remain in place. The symptoms remain symptoms, even if the condition they indicate gets a less precise definition or another name.

    2. �This approach forces modern categories on ancient cultural phenomena. What would now be considered a disease was something divine in those days. Vincent Van Gogh was considered a madman in his time, but a genius today.�

    Just like physical diseases have been diagnosed on the leftovers of people who died one hundred or ten thousand years ago, because physical diseases have remained the same all along, mental afflictions can also be diagnosed because they have also remained the same. In fact, terms like �epilepsy� and �paranoia� were coined by Greek doctors, so these diseases were known in their time, and were considered as diseases. They were not that precisely defined and only known to very few initiates (not to Jesus� audience), but at least they indicate that human psychopathology has not fundamentally changed over the millennia. The fact that the same psychological phenomena were interpreted differently, not as disease but as ghost-possession or god-inspiration, only goes to confirm the thesis that what was deemed a sign of divinity by Jesus� (and other prophets�) followers, may in reality have been a pathological symptom.

    The best proof that the diagnosis remains the same in spite of cultural differences, is the fact that contemporaries of Jesus considered him mentally disturbed. The pharisees say: �Now we know that you are possessed by a devil� (John 8:52). According to the Gospel of the Hebrews, an apocryphal text (i.e. kept out of the Church canon, not because of unreliability but because of theological inconvenience), Jesus� family wants him to get baptized, because they hope that this ritual may purify him from the impure spirit that troubles him. And the canonical Gospels confirm that Jesus� own family members considered him mentally afflicted: when they hear that his public life has started they want to take him back home, �because they thought he had gone out of his mind� (Mark 3:21). One could ask: but why have the Gospel editors not scrapped this hint at a mental affliction? The answer is that they had to counter precisely this allegation from their audiences, so they roundly admitted that people could consider mad what was in fact divine.

    As for Van Gogh, if he was a mental patient in the 19th century, he would still have been one today. It so happens that there is a lot of debate about the correctness of the diagnosis of Van Gogh.3 At any rate, his condition did not prevent him from being a genius in painting. The point is that between functioning non-mad people and non-functioning mad people, you have shades of gradual mental affliction, which allow people to be somewhat mad and yet function. This unease may even act as an incentive to remarkable achievements, like a peculiar inspiredness in painting, or a kind of charisma in a wandering god-man. Nevertheless, the �revelations� such people get, no matter how creatively they integrate them, are at any rate the products of their own minds, not messages from God.

    3. �The Bible stories do not give a historical report about Jesus� doings and sayings. Therefore, no diagnosis of a historical character can be extracted from them.�

    This stand, taken by modem theologians like Schillebeeckx, is in fact dangerously undermining the foundations of the Christian faith. As Prof. Vermeersch, another ex-Jesuit who renounced Christianity, commented on Prof. Schillebeeckx� reaction: if all these Bible stories are only stories, do you think that the common faithful will remain Christians if they are told the truth about these �mere stories�? The crux of the Christian faith is precisely that God has intervened in history, by sacrificing his Only-begotten Son and resurrecting Him. If the report in the Gospels is not history, then the Christian myth is at best of the same order as all the Pagan myths, and Christianity must forsake its claims to uniqueness and finality.

    What is worse from the scholarly angle: this hiding behind the postulated non-historical character of the Gospel stories fatally leaves important features of the Gospel unexplained. Quite a few episodes cannot possibly be explained as �post-paschal glorification� or any other of the difficult concepts which the exegetes keep on inventing. They can only be understood as the report (even if distorted and reworked) of a historical reality.

    Prof. Schillebeeckx has said that Dr. Somers should study �literary genres� and �narrativity� before he can speak about Gospel interpretation. As a negative authority argument this is quite ludicrous, since dr. Somers is a Ph.D. in theology with a lot of research publications to his credit, plus a number of other academic titles and achievements besides, and he can talk circles around most theologians, who are a class of specialists not taken seriously by most fellow academics. He rejects �narrativity� not because of ignorance, but because on the contrary he has found that classifying the Gospel episodes as different types of narrative does not add up to any explanation and understanding worth the name. In contrast to the theologians, a number of psychiatrists have declared they could not find any fault with Dr. Somers� methodology and conclusions.

    4.2 Shock and disbelief

    For many people, Dr. Somers� research findings have come as a shock.

    Being shaken in your most cherished beliefs can be hard. The first reaction is outright rejection. When I was 6 and my sister told me that Saint Nicolas (a saint popular in the Low Countries, deformed in America to Santa Claus), the saint who rides the rooftops on his white horse and brings toys through the chimneys, �does not exist�, I was sincerely indignant that she dared to say such scandalous things. My indignation lasted only a minute, I was still young and flexible; but when you have spent decades nurturing a certain belief and making it the corner-stone of your world-view and value-system, seeing it swept away can be painful.

    Dr. Somers has testified how for him too, discovering the untenability of the belief system to which he had devoted his life had been a long-drawn-out painful experience. But what can we do? We all have to grow up one day, and accept that Saint Nicolas does not exist.

    Many Christians have never had any scruples to disrupt the entire culture, not merely the beliefs but also the entire way of life, of non-Christians. Actual disruption has happened on a large scale in many countries, but verbal blackening has been truly universal among believing Christians. The Old Testament speaks in the most hateful terms about the Gentiles, the New Testament is very harsh on the Jews and the Pagans. Christians are spoonfed this attitude to unbelievers simply by hearing and reading their revered Scriptures.

    To Christians shocked by the psychopathological approach to some of their great religious figures, we may point out that Christian polemists have always accused a similar prophet, Mohammed, of being something else than a genuine spokesman of God. Either he had to be an impostor, who didn�t believe in his own prophethood but fooled the masses. Or he had to be ghost-possessed: that was the perception of Mohammed�s contemporaries, against which he had to defend himself a dozen times, and which Christian polemists have borrowed and repeated numerous times.4

    Though Mohammed�s adversary Utba investigated the matter and gave Mohammed a certificate of complete sanity (according to Muslim sources), Christian polemists have kept on using the charge of a psychopathological disturbance against their arch-rival Mohammed until in the 20th century, secular-minded diagnoses of Jesus made them realize that this approach would damage Jesus along with Mohammed.

    The campaigns they have waged against the gods and religious figures of non-Abrahamic religions have been along different lines, but usually just as insulting. So, Christian polemists are in no position to protest when Jesus is put to psychopathological scrutiny.

    Being confronted with facts and insights that jeopardize your cherished beliefs may be painful for many, but for many others the experience comes as a liberation. Dr. Somers relates how after the publication of his first book on Jesus, he received a grateful letter from a woman who had been going through divorce proceedings before a Church Court. For Catholics, divorce is strictly forbidden even if the marriage is a complete disaster, unless a Church Court declares the marriage invalid. For people who believe that Church-ordained morality is based on a revelation through God�s Only-born Son, the thought of trespassing against the divorce prohibition is extremely heavy to bear. In the case of this lady, the news that Jesus was just a human person, whose self-proclamation as Son of God was merely a delusion, reduced the questions of morality she was facing to the human level where they properly belong. By accepting the failure of her marriage, she would not be trespassing against a divine law, nor would she go to hell.

    More generally, the suffocating grip of Church dogma over human decisions has been eliminated at the source. Many theologians have tried to amend Church dogma or Biblical prescriptions by superficially glossing over the implications of such reforms. Either Jesus� revelation is forever valid, and then no changes are possible in the entire theological edifice logically constructed upon this basic belief; or changes are possible, but then the divine and unique character of Jesus� mission and message is undermined. In Dr. Somers� approach, by contrast, we have a contradiction-free solution: forget the prophets� claims of divine authority, forget Jesus� claims of a divine nature, and start the human quest for meaning and for an ethical code all over on a different basis.

    4.3. Prophetic monotheism and Sanatana Dharma

    In the past century, people belonging to the Hindu-Buddhist cultural sphere have started projecting the characteristics of their own spiritual masters on the monotheist prophets. Thus, when Jesus says: �The Kingdom of God is among you�, meaning �I, Jesus, am the Kingdom of God�, these good-natured Orientals take it to mean: �The Kingdom of God is inside of you, waiting to be discovered through meditation.� They have started to say that the prophets were a kind of yogis who taught their followers a way to attain a divine state of consciousness.

    In fact, prophecy is radically different from yoga: it means allowing an outside entity, which in the case of monotheism is called Yahweh/God/Allah, to blow certain consciousness contents into your mind. Consciousness is not turned inward, but is (or believes it is) communicating with another Being. Moreover, the mind is not being emptied of its contents and made to rest in itself, as it is in yoga; on the contrary, it is being filled with a message beyond one�s control. The prophet receives a certain information: prophecy is like talking, though with an unusual partner via an unusual channel; but yoga is silence. Lastly, if it is correct that prophethood is a mental aberration and a delusion, then that makes it the very antithesis of yoga, which is an undisturbed and realistic awareness of pure consciousness.

    Yoga is not an erratic and disturbing experience which befalls you and drives you to tirades of doom and to outbursts against your fellow men. It is a systematic discipline and makes the practitioner calm and serene. The word yoga means discipline, control (it is also translated as �uniting�: not the soul with an outsider called God, but the mind with its object, i.e. concentration). Since its field of working is consciousness, it is not interested in outward experiences such as recognition and glorification, or martyrdom. There is nothing dramatic about yoga, in stark contrast to the dramas enacted and encountered by the prophets.

    The most remarkable difference between the prophets� discourse and that of the rishis, is certainly this. The prophets all talk about themselves a lot. They think they are very special, this one person in this one body is different from the rest and has an exclusive relationship with the Creator. But the rishis talked about a universal way, a world order in which we all participate, a state of consciousness we can all achieve. If God is defined as that which transcends all worldly differences, the One above the Many, then this universalism is far more divine than the prophets� exclusivism.

    What Hindus who have been trapped in a sentimental glorification of Jesus and other prophets will have to learn, is that the essence of Hindu Dharma is not �tolerance�, or �equal respect for all religions�, but Satya, truth. The problem with Christianity and Islam is superficially their intolerance and fanaticism. But this intolerance is a consequence of these religions� untruthfulness: if your belief system is based on delusions, you have to pre-empt rational inquiry into it and shield it from contact with more sustainable thought systems. The fundamental problem with the monotheist religions is not that they are intolerant, but that they are untrue, (Asatya or Anrita).

    At this point many Hindus will be sincerely shocked, they will object, and Christian polemists will express the same objection: �By denouncing some religions as untrue, you are making a pretentious claim to knowing the ultimate truth.� In the case of Christians who know and believe the essence of their religion, this objection is highly insincere, as they themselves are confidently claiming to possess the ultimate, God-given truth. Otherwise, the objection against absolute truth-claims may be valid. The point is that by denouncing the defining beliefs of Christianity (and similarly, Islam) as untrue, we are not making a claim to know the final truth. The quest for the final truth remains open. When scientists find that a certain hypothesis is empirically disproves, they henceforth treat it as untrue and move on to more promising hypotheses; this does not imply a pretentious claim to ultimate truth. It is simply that once a belief is found to be untrue, we should not burden ourselves with it anymore, so that we can keep ourselves free for something more true.

    There are other respects also in which Christianity and Sanatana Dharma are radically different. Christianity worships a suffering convict on the cross, and consequently glorifies suffering. To a woman who was heavily suffering, mother Teresa wrote: �You should be grateful for this suffering. It is Christ�s way of kissing you.�

    In a sense, there is something to it that �hardships are the spice of life, they mould the perfect man�. Even so, the unabashed glorification of happiness is a far healthier attitude than the glorification of suffering. Hardships will come anyway, but it is morbid to focus the mind on them unnecessarily. When Christians hear Chinese people wish each other �much wealth� or in fact �much money�, on New Year�s day, they find it rather shocking. When they see depictions of Lakshmi or Ganesh, with all their opulence and well-being and endless generosity, they find something is very wrong. At any rate, it is a kind of iconography which you will not find in any church.

    Like Christianity, several Sanatana traditions, esp. Buddhism, focus on suffering. But they have an unambiguous verdict: suffering is the problem, we offer a way out of it. The common-sense position of mainstream Hindu sources like the Bhagavad Gita is that suffering is a fact of life, that we have to bravely face it, that enduring it makes us stronger; but not that we should glorify it. In Christianity, a straightforward remedy against suffering is always resented as a bit selfish; since we are sinners, suffering is what we deserve.

    This attitude to suffering is symptomatic of the single most harmful characteristic of Christianity: its lack of balance. In traditional Pagan and secular systems of ethics, the principle of the Golden Mean is duly emphasized (Aristotle, Confucius, Buddha); by contrast, Christianity fosters a sentimental extremism.

    The only Bible books that consist of lucid observations about life, are non-prophetic books like Proverbs and Qohelet (Ecclesiastes). They belong to a section of the Old Testament called Ketuvim, �Writings�, for which no divine source is claimed. Their source is just human and normal, rather like any collection of quotations or �Collected Proverbs from the Middle East�. These sayings range from the trivial and uninspired to the witty and the profound. Some good, some not so good, a few gems: your average human product. These human sayings have some good advice to offer on how to conduct life; in the prophetic revelations, it is hard to find any such good advice.

    Prophetism has caused innumerable hardships without giving anything valuable in return. Not one of the valuable things in the cultures dominated by it, can be traced to their prophetic-monotheistic component. Its source has more often than not been mental darkness. Today, there is no justification for keeping humanity in the mental prison of prophetism any longer. In Flanders, the Catholic-dominated press has kept very quiet about Dr. Somers� approach to Jesus. Most theologians have kept mum. The Vatican has not reacted. It had put some Jesuits to work on this theory, but they did not publicly speak out. Perhaps they are aware of its explosive potential. Perhaps they are, on the contrary, not worried at all, because earlier psychopathological studies about Jesus had also not toppled Christianity.

    But those earlier theories had been put forward by staunch atheists who had been a bit intemperate and triumphalistic in the presentation of their case, which made it sound less scientific and less convincing. Moreover, psychology then was not what it is now. Then, there was an Albert Schweitzer to write an in-depth reply which had convinced many believers that there was nothing to worry, that this was just another of those far-fatched hypotheses that anti-Christian skeptics used to come up with.1 But now, no man of the stature of Albert Schweitzer has come forward with a reply. And this time, the psycho-analysis of Jesus is being presented sobrely by a man who was a faithful servant of the Church for most of his life, and who knows not only psychology, in a more advanced form, but also the philological and theological aspects of Bible research.

    A comment on Dr. Somers� work was written by the KUL (Catholic University Leuven) theologian Leo Kenis, who denounced the book as assuming the Bible text to be historical, and as not understanding the Biblical language game, etc.2 A leftist weekly has collected a few more reactions, notably those of Prof. Etienne Vermeersch, another ex-Jesuit, now staunch opponent of Church and religion; and of Prof. Edward Schillebeeckx, the famous Flemish theologian teaching in Nijmegen, Holland. Let us have a brief look at their objections.

    1. �Paraphrenia does not exist. It is an outdated category in psychopathology, not even mentioned in American manuals of psychiatry.�

    It is a fact that in the US, the paraphrenia syndrome has been subsumed under the more general category of paranoia. But in continental Europe, the fine distinction between the two is certainly being maintained. Even otherwise, it would only be a change in name-tag: the diagnosis of at least a psychopathological condition of the paranoia family would remain in place. The symptoms remain symptoms, even if the condition they indicate gets a less precise definition or another name.

    2. �This approach forces modern categories on ancient cultural phenomena. What would now be considered a disease was something divine in those days. Vincent Van Gogh was considered a madman in his time, but a genius today.�

    Just like physical diseases have been diagnosed on the leftovers of people who died one hundred or ten thousand years ago, because physical diseases have remained the same all along, mental afflictions can also be diagnosed because they have also remained the same. In fact, terms like �epilepsy� and �paranoia� were coined by Greek doctors, so these diseases were known in their time, and were considered as diseases. They were not that precisely defined and only known to very few initiates (not to Jesus� audience), but at least they indicate that human psychopathology has not fundamentally changed over the millennia. The fact that the same psychological phenomena were interpreted differently, not as disease but as ghost-possession or god-inspiration, only goes to confirm the thesis that what was deemed a sign of divinity by Jesus� (and other prophets�) followers, may in reality have been a pathological symptom.

    The best proof that the diagnosis remains the same in spite of cultural differences, is the fact that contemporaries of Jesus considered him mentally disturbed. The pharisees say: �Now we know that you are possessed by a devil� (John 8:52). According to the Gospel of the Hebrews, an apocryphal text (i.e. kept out of the Church canon, not because of unreliability but because of theological inconvenience), Jesus� family wants him to get baptized, because they hope that this ritual may purify him from the impure spirit that troubles him. And the canonical Gospels confirm that Jesus� own family members considered him mentally afflicted: when they hear that his public life has started they want to take him back home, �because they thought he had gone out of his mind� (Mark 3:21). One could ask: but why have the Gospel editors not scrapped this hint at a mental affliction? The answer is that they had to counter precisely this allegation from their audiences, so they roundly admitted that people could consider mad what was in fact divine.

    As for Van Gogh, if he was a mental patient in the 19th century, he would still have been one today. It so happens that there is a lot of debate about the correctness of the diagnosis of Van Gogh.3 At any rate, his condition did not prevent him from being a genius in painting. The point is that between functioning non-mad people and non-functioning mad people, you have shades of gradual mental affliction, which allow people to be somewhat mad and yet function. This unease may even act as an incentive to remarkable achievements, like a peculiar inspiredness in painting, or a kind of charisma in a wandering god-man. Nevertheless, the �revelations� such people get, no matter how creatively they integrate them, are at any rate the products of their own minds, not messages from God.

    3. �The Bible stories do not give a historical report about Jesus� doings and sayings. Therefore, no diagnosis of a historical character can be extracted from them.�

    This stand, taken by modem theologians like Schillebeeckx, is in fact dangerously undermining the foundations of the Christian faith. As Prof. Vermeersch, another ex-Jesuit who renounced Christianity, commented on Prof. Schillebeeckx� reaction: if all these Bible stories are only stories, do you think that the common faithful will remain Christians if they are told the truth about these �mere stories�? The crux of the Christian faith is precisely that God has intervened in history, by sacrificing his Only-begotten Son and resurrecting Him. If the report in the Gospels is not history, then the Christian myth is at best of the same order as all the Pagan myths, and Christianity must forsake its claims to uniqueness and finality.

    What is worse from the scholarly angle: this hiding behind the postulated non-historical character of the Gospel stories fatally leaves important features of the Gospel unexplained. Quite a few episodes cannot possibly be explained as �post-paschal glorification� or any other of the difficult concepts which the exegetes keep on inventing. They can only be understood as the report (even if distorted and reworked) of a historical reality.

    Prof. Schillebeeckx has said that Dr. Somers should study �literary genres� and �narrativity� before he can speak about Gospel interpretation. As a negative authority argument this is quite ludicrous, since dr. Somers is a Ph.D. in theology with a lot of research publications to his credit, plus a number of other academic titles and achievements besides, and he can talk circles around most theologians, who are a class of specialists not taken seriously by most fellow academics. He rejects �narrativity� not because of ignorance, but because on the contrary he has found that classifying the Gospel episodes as different types of narrative does not add up to any explanation and understanding worth the name. In contrast to the theologians, a number of psychiatrists have declared they could not find any fault with Dr. Somers� methodology and conclusions.

    4.2 Shock and disbelief

    For many people, Dr. Somers� research findings have come as a shock.

    Being shaken in your most cherished beliefs can be hard. The first reaction is outright rejection. When I was 6 and my sister told me that Saint Nicolas (a saint popular in the Low Countries, deformed in America to Santa Claus), the saint who rides the rooftops on his white horse and brings toys through the chimneys, �does not exist�, I was sincerely indignant that she dared to say such scandalous things. My indignation lasted only a minute, I was still young and flexible; but when you have spent decades nurturing a certain belief and making it the corner-stone of your world-view and value-system, seeing it swept away can be painful.

    Dr. Somers has testified how for him too, discovering the untenability of the belief system to which he had devoted his life had been a long-drawn-out painful experience. But what can we do? We all have to grow up one day, and accept that Saint Nicolas does not exist.

    Many Christians have never had any scruples to disrupt the entire culture, not merely the beliefs but also the entire way of life, of non-Christians. Actual disruption has happened on a large scale in many countries, but verbal blackening has been truly universal among believing Christians. The Old Testament speaks in the most hateful terms about the Gentiles, the New Testament is very harsh on the Jews and the Pagans. Christians are spoonfed this attitude to unbelievers simply by hearing and reading their revered Scriptures.

    To Christians shocked by the psychopathological approach to some of their great religious figures, we may point out that Christian polemists have always accused a similar prophet, Mohammed, of being something else than a genuine spokesman of God. Either he had to be an impostor, who didn�t believe in his own prophethood but fooled the masses. Or he had to be ghost-possessed: that was the perception of Mohammed�s contemporaries, against which he had to defend himself a dozen times, and which Christian polemists have borrowed and repeated numerous times.4

    Though Mohammed�s adversary Utba investigated the matter and gave Mohammed a certificate of complete sanity (according to Muslim sources), Christian polemists have kept on using the charge of a psychopathological disturbance against their arch-rival Mohammed until in the 20th century, secular-minded diagnoses of Jesus made them realize that this approach would damage Jesus along with Mohammed.

    The campaigns they have waged against the gods and religious figures of non-Abrahamic religions have been along different lines, but usually just as insulting. So, Christian polemists are in no position to protest when Jesus is put to psychopathological scrutiny.

    Being confronted with facts and insights that jeopardize your cherished beliefs may be painful for many, but for many others the experience comes as a liberation. Dr. Somers relates how after the publication of his first book on Jesus, he received a grateful letter from a woman who had been going through divorce proceedings before a Church Court. For Catholics, divorce is strictly forbidden even if the marriage is a complete disaster, unless a Church Court declares the marriage invalid. For people who believe that Church-ordained morality is based on a revelation through God�s Only-born Son, the thought of trespassing against the divorce prohibition is extremely heavy to bear. In the case of this lady, the news that Jesus was just a human person, whose self-proclamation as Son of God was merely a delusion, reduced the questions of morality she was facing to the human level where they properly belong. By accepting the failure of her marriage, she would not be trespassing against a divine law, nor would she go to hell.

    More generally, the suffocating grip of Church dogma over human decisions has been eliminated at the source. Many theologians have tried to amend Church dogma or Biblical prescriptions by superficially glossing over the implications of such reforms. Either Jesus� revelation is forever valid, and then no changes are possible in the entire theological edifice logically constructed upon this basic belief; or changes are possible, but then the divine and unique character of Jesus� mission and message is undermined. In Dr. Somers� approach, by contrast, we have a contradiction-free solution: forget the prophets� claims of divine authority, forget Jesus� claims of a divine nature, and start the human quest for meaning and for an ethical code all over on a different basis.

    4.3. Prophetic monotheism and Sanatana Dharma

    In the past century, people belonging to the Hindu-Buddhist cultural sphere have started projecting the characteristics of their own spiritual masters on the monotheist prophets. Thus, when Jesus says: �The Kingdom of God is among you�, meaning �I, Jesus, am the Kingdom of God�, these good-natured Orientals take it to mean: �The Kingdom of God is inside of you, waiting to be discovered through meditation.� They have started to say that the prophets were a kind of yogis who taught their followers a way to attain a divine state of consciousness.

    In fact, prophecy is radically different from yoga: it means allowing an outside entity, which in the case of monotheism is called Yahweh/God/Allah, to blow certain consciousness contents into your mind. Consciousness is not turned inward, but is (or believes it is) communicating with another Being. Moreover, the mind is not being emptied of its contents and made to rest in itself, as it is in yoga; on the contrary, it is being filled with a message beyond one�s control. The prophet receives a certain information: prophecy is like talking, though with an unusual partner via an unusual channel; but yoga is silence. Lastly, if it is correct that prophethood is a mental aberration and a delusion, then that makes it the very antithesis of yoga, which is an undisturbed and realistic awareness of pure consciousness.

    Yoga is not an erratic and disturbing experience which befalls you and drives you to tirades of doom and to outbursts against your fellow men. It is a systematic discipline and makes the practitioner calm and serene. The word yoga means discipline, control (it is also translated as �uniting�: not the soul with an outsider called God, but the mind with its object, i.e. concentration). Since its field of working is consciousness, it is not interested in outward experiences such as recognition and glorification, or martyrdom. There is nothing dramatic about yoga, in stark contrast to the dramas enacted and encountered by the prophets.

    The most remarkable difference between the prophets� discourse and that of the rishis, is certainly this. The prophets all talk about themselves a lot. They think they are very special, this one person in this one body is different from the rest and has an exclusive relationship with the Creator. But the rishis talked about a universal way, a world order in which we all participate, a state of consciousness we can all achieve. If God is defined as that which transcends all worldly differences, the One above the Many, then this universalism is far more divine than the prophets� exclusivism.

    What Hindus who have been trapped in a sentimental glorification of Jesus and other prophets will have to learn, is that the essence of Hindu Dharma is not �tolerance�, or �equal respect for all religions�, but Satya, truth. The problem with Christianity and Islam is superficially their intolerance and fanaticism. But this intolerance is a consequence of these religions� untruthfulness: if your belief system is based on delusions, you have to pre-empt rational inquiry into it and shield it from contact with more sustainable thought systems. The fundamental problem with the monotheist religions is not that they are intolerant, but that they are untrue, (Asatya or Anrita).

    At this point many Hindus will be sincerely shocked, they will object, and Christian polemists will express the same objection: �By denouncing some religions as untrue, you are making a pretentious claim to knowing the ultimate truth.� In the case of Christians who know and believe the essence of their religion, this objection is highly insincere, as they themselves are confidently claiming to possess the ultimate, God-given truth. Otherwise, the objection against absolute truth-claims may be valid. The point is that by denouncing the defining beliefs of Christianity (and similarly, Islam) as untrue, we are not making a claim to know the final truth. The quest for the final truth remains open. When scientists find that a certain hypothesis is empirically disproves, they henceforth treat it as untrue and move on to more promising hypotheses; this does not imply a pretentious claim to ultimate truth. It is simply that once a belief is found to be untrue, we should not burden ourselves with it anymore, so that we can keep ourselves free for something more true.

    There are other respects also in which Christianity and Sanatana Dharma are radically different. Christianity worships a suffering convict on the cross, and consequently glorifies suffering. To a woman who was heavily suffering, mother Teresa wrote: �You should be grateful for this suffering. It is Christ�s way of kissing you.�

    In a sense, there is something to it that �hardships are the spice of life, they mould the perfect man�. Even so, the unabashed glorification of happiness is a far healthier attitude than the glorification of suffering. Hardships will come anyway, but it is morbid to focus the mind on them unnecessarily. When Christians hear Chinese people wish each other �much wealth� or in fact �much money�, on New Year�s day, they find it rather shocking. When they see depictions of Lakshmi or Ganesh, with all their opulence and well-being and endless generosity, they find something is very wrong. At any rate, it is a kind of iconography which you will not find in any church.

    Like Christianity, several Sanatana traditions, esp. Buddhism, focus on suffering. But they have an unambiguous verdict: suffering is the problem, we offer a way out of it. The common-sense position of mainstream Hindu sources like the Bhagavad Gita is that suffering is a fact of life, that we have to bravely face it, that enduring it makes us stronger; but not that we should glorify it. In Christianity, a straightforward remedy against suffering is always resented as a bit selfish; since we are sinners, suffering is what we deserve.

    This attitude to suffering is symptomatic of the single most harmful characteristic of Christianity: its lack of balance. In traditional Pagan and secular systems of ethics, the principle of the Golden Mean is duly emphasized (Aristotle, Confucius, Buddha); by contrast, Christianity fosters a sentimental extremism.

    The only Bible books that consist of lucid observations about life, are non-prophetic books like Proverbs and Qohelet (Ecclesiastes). They belong to a section of the Old Testament called Ketuvim, �Writings�, for which no divine source is claimed. Their source is just human and normal, rather like any collection of quotations or �Collected Proverbs from the Middle East�. These sayings range from the trivial and uninspired to the witty and the profound. Some good, some not so good, a few gems: your average human product. These human sayings have some good advice to offer on how to conduct life; in the prophetic revelations, it is hard to find any such good advice.

    Prophetism has caused innumerable hardships without giving anything valuable in return. Not one of the valuable things in the cultures dominated by it, can be traced to their prophetic-monotheistic component. Its source has more often than not been mental darkness. Today, there is no justification for keeping humanity in the mental prison of prophetism any longer.
    In Flanders, the Catholic-dominated press has kept very quiet about Dr. Somers� approach to Jesus. Most theologians have kept mum. The Vatican has not reacted. It had put some Jesuits to work on this theory, but they did not publicly speak out. Perhaps they are aware of its explosive potential. Perhaps they are, on the contrary, not worried at all, because earlier psychopathological studies about Jesus had also not toppled Christianity.

    But those earlier theories had been put forward by staunch atheists who had been a bit intemperate and triumphalistic in the presentation of their case, which made it sound less scientific and less convincing. Moreover, psychology then was not what it is now. Then, there was an Albert Schweitzer to write an in-depth reply which had convinced many believers that there was nothing to worry, that this was just another of those far-fatched hypotheses that anti-Christian skeptics used to come up with.1 But now, no man of the stature of Albert Schweitzer has come forward with a reply. And this time, the psycho-analysis of Jesus is being presented sobrely by a man who was a faithful servant of the Church for most of his life, and who knows not only psychology, in a more advanced form, but also the philological and theological aspects of Bible research.

    A comment on Dr. Somers� work was written by the KUL (Catholic University Leuven) theologian Leo Kenis, who denounced the book as assuming the Bible text to be historical, and as not understanding the Biblical language game, etc.2 A leftist weekly has collected a few more reactions, notably those of Prof. Etienne Vermeersch, another ex-Jesuit, now staunch opponent of Church and religion; and of Prof. Edward Schillebeeckx, the famous Flemish theologian teaching in Nijmegen, Holland. Let us have a brief look at their objections.

    1. �Paraphrenia does not exist. It is an outdated category in psychopathology, not even mentioned in American manuals of psychiatry.�

    It is a fact that in the US, the paraphrenia syndrome has been subsumed under the more general category of paranoia. But in continental Europe, the fine distinction between the two is certainly being maintained. Even otherwise, it would only be a change in name-tag: the diagnosis of at least a psychopathological condition of the paranoia family would remain in place. The symptoms remain symptoms, even if the condition they indicate gets a less precise definition or another name.

    2. �This approach forces modern categories on ancient cultural phenomena. What would now be considered a disease was something divine in those days. Vincent Van Gogh was considered a madman in his time, but a genius today.�

    Just like physical diseases have been diagnosed on the leftovers of people who died one hundred or ten thousand years ago, because physical diseases have remained the same all along, mental afflictions can also be diagnosed because they have also remained the same. In fact, terms like �epilepsy� and �paranoia� were coined by Greek doctors, so these diseases were known in their time, and were considered as diseases. They were not that precisely defined and only known to very few initiates (not to Jesus� audience), but at least they indicate that human psychopathology has not fundamentally changed over the millennia. The fact that the same psychological phenomena were interpreted differently, not as disease but as ghost-possession or god-inspiration, only goes to confirm the thesis that what was deemed a sign of divinity by Jesus� (and other prophets�) followers, may in reality have been a pathological symptom.

    The best proof that the diagnosis remains the same in spite of cultural differences, is the fact that contemporaries of Jesus considered him mentally disturbed. The pharisees say: �Now we know that you are possessed by a devil� (John 8:52). According to the Gospel of the Hebrews, an apocryphal text (i.e. kept out of the Church canon, not because of unreliability but because of theological inconvenience), Jesus� family wants him to get baptized, because they hope that this ritual may purify him from the impure spirit that troubles him. And the canonical Gospels confirm that Jesus� own family members considered him mentally afflicted: when they hear that his public life has started they want to take him back home, �because they thought he had gone out of his mind� (Mark 3:21). One could ask: but why have the Gospel editors not scrapped this hint at a mental affliction? The answer is that they had to counter precisely this allegation from their audiences, so they roundly admitted that people could consider mad what was in fact divine.

    As for Van Gogh, if he was a mental patient in the 19th century, he would still have been one today. It so happens that there is a lot of debate about the correctness of the diagnosis of Van Gogh.3 At any rate, his condition did not prevent him from being a genius in painting. The point is that between functioning non-mad people and non-functioning mad people, you have shades of gradual mental affliction, which allow people to be somewhat mad and yet function. This unease may even act as an incentive to remarkable achievements, like a peculiar inspiredness in painting, or a kind of charisma in a wandering god-man. Nevertheless, the �revelations� such people get, no matter how creatively they integrate them, are at any rate the products of their own minds, not messages from God.

    3. �The Bible stories do not give a historical report about Jesus� doings and sayings. Therefore, no diagnosis of a historical character can be extracted from them.�

    This stand, taken by modem theologians like Schillebeeckx, is in fact dangerously undermining the foundations of the Christian faith. As Prof. Vermeersch, another ex-Jesuit who renounced Christianity, commented on Prof. Schillebeeckx� reaction: if all these Bible stories are only stories, do you think that the common faithful will remain Christians if they are told the truth about these �mere stories�? The crux of the Christian faith is precisely that God has intervened in history, by sacrificing his Only-begotten Son and resurrecting Him. If the report in the Gospels is not history, then the Christian myth is at best of the same order as all the Pagan myths, and Christianity must forsake its claims to uniqueness and finality.

    What is worse from the scholarly angle: this hiding behind the postulated non-historical character of the Gospel stories fatally leaves important features of the Gospel unexplained. Quite a few episodes cannot possibly be explained as �post-paschal glorification� or any other of the difficult concepts which the exegetes keep on inventing. They can only be understood as the report (even if distorted and reworked) of a historical reality.

    Prof. Schillebeeckx has said that Dr. Somers should study �literary genres� and �narrativity� before he can speak about Gospel interpretation. As a negative authority argument this is quite ludicrous, since dr. Somers is a Ph.D. in theology with a lot of research publications to his credit, plus a number of other academic titles and achievements besides, and he can talk circles around most theologians, who are a class of specialists not taken seriously by most fellow academics. He rejects �narrativity� not because of ignorance, but because on the contrary he has found that classifying the Gospel episodes as different types of narrative does not add up to any explanation and understanding worth the name. In contrast to the theologians, a number of psychiatrists have declared they could not find any fault with Dr. Somers� methodology and conclusions.

    4.2 Shock and disbelief

    For many people, Dr. Somers� research findings have come as a shock.

    Being shaken in your most cherished beliefs can be hard. The first reaction is outright rejection. When I was 6 and my sister told me that Saint Nicolas (a saint popular in the Low Countries, deformed in America to Santa Claus), the saint who rides the rooftops on his white horse and brings toys through the chimneys, �does not exist�, I was sincerely indignant that she dared to say such scandalous things. My indignation lasted only a minute, I was still young and flexible; but when you have spent decades nurturing a certain belief and making it the corner-stone of your world-view and value-system, seeing it swept away can be painful.

    Dr. Somers has testified how for him too, discovering the untenability of the belief system to which he had devoted his life had been a long-drawn-out painful experience. But what can we do? We all have to grow up one day, and accept that Saint Nicolas does not exist.

    Many Christians have never had any scruples to disrupt the entire culture, not merely the beliefs but also the entire way of life, of non-Christians. Actual disruption has happened on a large scale in many countries, but verbal blackening has been truly universal among believing Christians. The Old Testament speaks in the most hateful terms about the Gentiles, the New Testament is very harsh on the Jews and the Pagans. Christians are spoonfed this attitude to unbelievers simply by hearing and reading their revered Scriptures.

    To Christians shocked by the psychopathological approach to some of their great religious figures, we may point out that Christian polemists have always accused a similar prophet, Mohammed, of being something else than a genuine spokesman of God. Either he had to be an impostor, who didn�t believe in his own prophethood but fooled the masses. Or he had to be ghost-possessed: that was the perception of Mohammed�s contemporaries, against which he had to defend himself a dozen times, and which Christian polemists have borrowed and repeated numerous times.4

    Though Mohammed�s adversary Utba investigated the matter and gave Mohammed a certificate of complete sanity (according to Muslim sources), Christian polemists have kept on using the charge of a psychopathological disturbance against their arch-rival Mohammed until in the 20th century, secular-minded diagnoses of Jesus made them realize that this approach would damage Jesus along with Mohammed.

    The campaigns they have waged against the gods and religious figures of non-Abrahamic religions have been along different lines, but usually just as insulting. So, Christian polemists are in no position to protest when Jesus is put to psychopathological scrutiny.

    Being confronted with facts and insights that jeopardize your cherished beliefs may be painful for many, but for many others the experience comes as a liberation. Dr. Somers relates how after the publication of his first book on Jesus, he received a grateful letter from a woman who had been going through divorce proceedings before a Church Court. For Catholics, divorce is strictly forbidden even if the marriage is a complete disaster, unless a Church Court declares the marriage invalid. For people who believe that Church-ordained morality is based on a revelation through God�s Only-born Son, the thought of trespassing against the divorce prohibition is extremely heavy to bear. In the case of this lady, the news that Jesus was just a human person, whose self-proclamation as Son of God was merely a delusion, reduced the questions of morality she was facing to the human level where they properly belong. By accepting the failure of her marriage, she would not be trespassing against a divine law, nor would she go to hell.

    More generally, the suffocating grip of Church dogma over human decisions has been eliminated at the source. Many theologians have tried to amend Church dogma or Biblical prescriptions by superficially glossing over the implications of such reforms. Either Jesus� revelation is forever valid, and then no changes are possible in the entire theological edifice logically constructed upon this basic belief; or changes are possible, but then the divine and unique character of Jesus� mission and message is undermined. In Dr. Somers� approach, by contrast, we have a contradiction-free solution: forget the prophets� claims of divine authority, forget Jesus� claims of a divine nature, and start the human quest for meaning and for an ethical code all over on a different basis.

    4.3. Prophetic monotheism and Sanatana Dharma

    In the past century, people belonging to the Hindu-Buddhist cultural sphere have started projecting the characteristics of their own spiritual masters on the monotheist prophets. Thus, when Jesus says: �The Kingdom of God is among you�, meaning �I, Jesus, am the Kingdom of God�, these good-natured Orientals take it to mean: �The Kingdom of God is inside of you, waiting to be discovered through meditation.� They have started to say that the prophets were a kind of yogis who taught their followers a way to attain a divine state of consciousness.

    In fact, prophecy is radically different from yoga: it means allowing an outside entity, which in the case of monotheism is called Yahweh/God/Allah, to blow certain consciousness contents into your mind. Consciousness is not turned inward, but is (or believes it is) communicating with another Being. Moreover, the mind is not being emptied of its contents and made to rest in itself, as it is in yoga; on the contrary, it is being filled with a message beyond one�s control. The prophet receives a certain information: prophecy is like talking, though with an unusual partner via an unusual channel; but yoga is silence. Lastly, if it is correct that prophethood is a mental aberration and a delusion, then that makes it the very antithesis of yoga, which is an undisturbed and realistic awareness of pure consciousness.

    Yoga is not an erratic and disturbing experience which befalls you and drives you to tirades of doom and to outbursts against your fellow men. It is a systematic discipline and makes the practitioner calm and serene. The word yoga means discipline, control (it is also translated as �uniting�: not the soul with an outsider called God, but the mind with its object, i.e. concentration). Since its field of working is consciousness, it is not interested in outward experiences such as recognition and glorification, or martyrdom. There is nothing dramatic about yoga, in stark contrast to the dramas enacted and encountered by the prophets.

    The most remarkable difference between the prophets� discourse and that of the rishis, is certainly this. The prophets all talk about themselves a lot. They think they are very special, this one person in this one body is different from the rest and has an exclusive relationship with the Creator. But the rishis talked about a universal way, a world order in which we all participate, a state of consciousness we can all achieve. If God is defined as that which transcends all worldly differences, the One above the Many, then this universalism is far more divine than the prophets� exclusivism.

    What Hindus who have been trapped in a sentimental glorification of Jesus and other prophets will have to learn, is that the essence of Hindu Dharma is not �tolerance�, or �equal respect for all religions�, but Satya, truth. The problem with Christianity and Islam is superficially their intolerance and fanaticism. But this intolerance is a consequence of these religions� untruthfulness: if your belief system is based on delusions, you have to pre-empt rational inquiry into it and shield it from contact with more sustainable thought systems. The fundamental problem with the monotheist religions is not that they are intolerant, but that they are untrue, (Asatya or Anrita).

    At this point many Hindus will be sincerely shocked, they will object, and Christian polemists will express the same objection: �By denouncing some religions as untrue, you are making a pretentious claim to knowing the ultimate truth.� In the case of Christians who know and believe the essence of their religion, this objection is highly insincere, as they themselves are confidently claiming to possess the ultimate, God-given truth. Otherwise, the objection against absolute truth-claims may be valid. The point is that by denouncing the defining beliefs of Christianity (and similarly, Islam) as untrue, we are not making a claim to know the final truth. The quest for the final truth remains open. When scientists find that a certain hypothesis is empirically disproves, they henceforth treat it as untrue and move on to more promising hypotheses; this does not imply a pretentious claim to ultimate truth. It is simply that once a belief is found to be untrue, we should not burden ourselves with it anymore, so that we can keep ourselves free for something more true.

    There are other respects also in which Christianity and Sanatana Dharma are radically different. Christianity worships a suffering convict on the cross, and consequently glorifies suffering. To a woman who was heavily suffering, mother Teresa wrote: �You should be grateful for this suffering. It is Christ�s way of kissing you.�

    In a sense, there is something to it that �hardships are the spice of life, they mould the perfect man�. Even so, the unabashed glorification of happiness is a far healthier attitude than the glorification of suffering. Hardships will come anyway, but it is morbid to focus the mind on them unnecessarily. When Christians hear Chinese people wish each other �much wealth� or in fact �much money�, on New Year�s day, they find it rather shocking. When they see depictions of Lakshmi or Ganesh, with all their opulence and well-being and endless generosity, they find something is very wrong. At any rate, it is a kind of iconography which you will not find in any church.

    Like Christianity, several Sanatana traditions, esp. Buddhism, focus on suffering. But they have an unambiguous verdict: suffering is the problem, we offer a way out of it. The common-sense position of mainstream Hindu sources like the Bhagavad Gita is that suffering is a fact of life, that we have to bravely face it, that enduring it makes us stronger; but not that we should glorify it. In Christianity, a straightforward remedy against suffering is always resented as a bit selfish; since we are sinners, suffering is what we deserve.

    This attitude to suffering is symptomatic of the single most harmful characteristic of Christianity: its lack of balance. In traditional Pagan and secular systems of ethics, the principle of the Golden Mean is duly emphasized (Aristotle, Confucius, Buddha); by contrast, Christianity fosters a sentimental extremism.

    The only Bible books that consist of lucid observations about life, are non-prophetic books like Proverbs and Qohelet (Ecclesiastes). They belong to a section of the Old Testament called Ketuvim, �Writings�, for which no divine source is claimed. Their source is just human and normal, rather like any collection of quotations or �Collected Proverbs from the Middle East�. These sayings range from the trivial and uninspired to the witty and the profound. Some good, some not so good, a few gems: your average human product. These human sayings have some good advice to offer on how to conduct life; in the prophetic revelations, it is hard to find any such good advice.

    Prophetism has caused innumerable hardships without giving anything valuable in return. Not one of the valuable things in the cultures dominated by it, can be traced to their prophetic-monotheistic component. Its source has more often than not been mental darkness. Today, there is no justification for keeping humanity in the mental prison of prophetism any longer

  24. Nam says:

    அடே பரதேசி, நான் கூட நீ ஏதோ ஆதாரம் காட்டுமன்னார்கோயில் நினச்சிக்காத அத பத்தி தேடினாலும் தா தெரியாது, நீ காட்டுகிர அந்த புத்தகம் … ஒரு சாத்தான் சபைய சார்ந்த அமேரிக்காவில் நாட்டுள உள்ள இல்லுமினாட்டி எழுதுனதுடா பன்னி, அவன போயி உண்மையா எழுதியிருப்பான்னு, ஒரு ப்லாக் கிரியேட் பண்ணி காட்டுர பாரு, உன்ன மாரி முட்டாள் எவனும் இருக்க மாட்டான் …

    அடே பைத்தியக்காரா, கிறிஸ்தவனுக்கு எதிரா எவனாவது ஏதாவது சொன்னா அத கண்மூடிதனமா நம்புவாயாயா யோ…

    அப்ரம், நீயும் மத்தவங்கள மாரி அமேரிக்கா நாட்ட கிறிஸ்தவங்க ஆக்கிரமிச்சி அங்க இருந்த ரெட் இந்தியர்கள எல்லாம் அழிச்சிட்டு கிறிஸ்தவத்த பரப்புனாங்னு நினச்சிக்காத, இல்லுமினாட்டிங்க தான் அமேரிக்கா நாட்ட உருவாக்குனதும் அதை நடத்திட்டு வர்ரதும், சரியா, இப்ப எப்படி இந்தியாவுடைய வரலார மாத்தபோராங்க, அப்படி தான், பழியெல்லாம் கிறிஸ்தவங்க மேல போட வரலாற்றையும் மாத்துனானுங்க…

    அடே… அதேபோல அந்த விருத்திரன்னு ஒருத்தன் இருந்தான் தான, அவன்தான் திராவிடர்களுடைய தலைவன், கடவுள ள்ள, இந்திரன்னு இருக்கிரானே, அவனும் கடவுளிள்ள, தலைவன் மற்றும் இந்திரன் என்பது ஒரு பட்டம்,….. இந்த இந்திரன் யாருன்னா, நம்ம காடுகளை அழிச்சு, நம்ம பழங்குடியினரில் சிலரை கொன்று சிலரை அஅடிமையாகி காட்டை அழித்து வயலும் வயல் சார்ந்த இடத்தையும் உருவாக்கியவன் …. சரியா, இந்த இந்திரன் என்பவன் நம் நாட்டில் அப்போது இருந்த ஒரு இல்லுமினாட்டிங்க…. சரியா, மருபடியும், மருபடியும், உங்க இந்துவுடைய கட்டுக்கதைய எல்லாம் புனைக்க வராத, ….

    கிறிஸ்தவங்களா இருக்கிறப்பல்லாம் நல்லா இருக்காங்க, மருபடியும், மாட்டை கதற கதற கற்பழிச்சு தப்பிச்சு போனபின்னாடியும் கற்பழிச்சு அதுல பிறந்தவங்க தான் ஆதாம் முதல் மனிதன்னு சொல்லிட்டு இருக்காதிங்க, சரியா, பின்னாடி நல்லா இருக்கிறவங்களும் விபச்சாரம் செய்ய போகப்போரானுங்க…

    நண்பா, தினமும் நல்லா சோப்புப் போட்டு ஒரு நாளுக்கு ஒன்று அல்லது இரண்டு நேரம் குழிங்க தப்பேயில்ல, பின்னாடி பல வருஷம் கழிச்சி குழிச்சிட்டு, அழுக்கு வந்திடுச்சி அதுல ஒரு உருவத்த செஞ்சேன், அந்த தலைய வெட்டுனதுக்கு புருஷனயோ அல்லது மனைவியையோ தொல்ல பண்ணாதீங்கோ,…

    யாரப்பா அது சைடுல, இல்லப்பா விஷ்ணுவும் சிவனும், அதாவது ஆணும் ஆணும் உடலுறவு கொண்டு நரகாசுரன பெத்தாங்கலாமாப்பா, அவன் தொல்லப்பன்ரான்னு அவதாரம் எடுத்து கொண்ணானுங்கலாமாப்பா,…

    அடுத்தது சரஸ்வதி என்று ஏதோ ஒரு பொண்ண வழிபடுரிங்களே, யோ உன் பொண்ணு அழகானதாக இருக்குன்னு நீ அவள வச்சி 100 வருஷம் வாழ்ந்து இரண்டு பிள்ளைகள பெத்திருப்பியா யா யோ … தன் சொந்த பிள்ளை அழகா இருக்குன்னு 100 வருஷம் 2 பிள்ளைகள பெத்து ஒன்னா வாழ்ந்தாங்கய்ய சரஸ்வதியுடைய அப்பன் சரஸ்வதியோட, ம்ம்ம்ம் … அத போயி கல்வியின் தெய்வம்னு வணங்கிரிங்களேயாயோ,

    மானங்கெட்ட வேதம், இதுக்காக போயி கிறிஸ்தவன வம்புக்கிலுக்கிரியேயாயோ…….

    • You can blindly believe bible the pig’s book as per Jesus and enter Ditch

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