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PostPosted: Sat Sep 14, 2013 12:47 pm 
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Thanks, Robert. I think Russell may have adjusted his thinking, as his response to my comments above was as follows:

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Russell Gmirkin: Not much in your posting to disagree with. There's little question that some segments of Jewish society in earlier times were literate, and that there are definite survivals of earlier materials in the biblical text. For instance, there are a few fragments of Ancient Near Eastern law collections (mainly in the Covenant Code of Exodus), the regnal data in Kings appears to draw on an old, mostly reliable source, and my research indicates that the chariot visions of Ezekiel represent an old Babylonian tradition later adapted to the Yahweh cult. So worry not, I'll be quite interested to read your book and I'm sure I'll like it. In fact, I try to seek out smart, curious, independent-minded people with perspectives different from my own on the hopes that I'll learn something. Let's face it, if you only interact with people you already agree with, you are absolutely guaranteed never to learn anything. Where's the fun in that?

As I previously stated, there is no question that the Jews used Canaanite and Babylonian texts. We have writings from Ugarit that are paralleled nearly verbatim in the Bible. Moreover, the Jews were identified in the book of Judith as "Chaldeans," i.e., Babylonians/Amorites. The story of Moses is based significantly on the Epic of Gilgamesh, which began as a Sumerian text but which was reworked by the Babylonians for some 1,500 years.

The Song of the Sea at Exodus 15 is a reworking of the Baal cycle and other sea-monster myths around the region. As Russell says, the chariots/merkabah imagery is also pre-Israelite, explaining its inclusion in the Exodus myth.

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 16, 2013 3:23 pm 
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Moses and Akhenaten by Ahmed Osman

I don't usually write negative reviews, but here are some thoughts about this inexplicably popular book, Moses and Akhenaten by Egyptian Muslim writer Ahmed Osman. Osman is frank enough to let us know that he is a Muslim who believes the Koran is "God's Word" and that the Bible is a holy text as well, although it needs correcting based on the Koran/Quran. Apparently, it never strikes Osman that we could be looking at mythmaking in both texts, including with the much later Koran, which is not an eyewitness account by any means, having been composed up to a millennium after the Exodus purported occurred, depending on the chronology.

In another book, The Hebrew Pharaoh of Egypt (3), Osman writes:

Quote:
[In 1947,] I was thirteen at the time, a devout Muslim who said his prayers and read the Koran every morning. I would have been quite happy to fight and, if necessary, die for my go: it was a Holy War, and death in a Holy War meant an instant place in Paradise.

On p. 18 of the same book, Osman remarks:

Quote:
Although I am neither a Jew nor a Christian myself, as a Muslim I accept that the Old Testament is the inspired word of God, and that any story it contains would not be there unless it were both important and significant.

He then goes on to clarify that the Bible has been altered significantly - as is contended by Islamic doctrine - because it contradicts the Koran. In reality, the later Koran simply is rehashing biblical traditions erroneously.

As we can see, Osman's agenda is to uphold the Koranic view of not only the Bible but also of Moses, which he makes clear in his Moses and Akhenaten book.

I found the Moses book to be such a tedious mish-mash of digressions as to be nearly unreadable. Others on Amazon have called it "shallow and boring," which is unfortunately true. Because he is compelled by faith to believe that the Bible contains at least noteworthy tales inspired by God and that the Koran is an inerrant history book, Osman's entire perspective is to prove Moses was a historical figure who behaved in the manner as in the Koran.

Religious Bias

Right from the beginning of his Moses book (1), Osman makes it clear that he is bound by his religious beliefs to prove that the Exodus story represents "history":

Quote:
Who was Joseph, the Patriarch who brought the tribe of Israel down to Egypt from Canaan? Who was the unnamed Pharaoh who appointed him as a senior minister, the virtual ruler of the country in the king's name? Who was Moses? If, as I believe, the Old Testament was fundamentally a historical work, the characters who appear in its stories had to match characters in Egyptian history.

And so starts this tortuous affair, winding the reader down a long path that eventually goes nowhere because no real documentation or artifact can be provided to demonstrate that Israel even was in Egypt in the first place.

El the Merciful

Osman starts out with that a priori assumption of historicity, and, while now and again he goes into etymology from the pre-Islamic Semites, he fails to realize that much of not only the Bible but also the Koran comes from Canaanite religion. Indeed, the Arab tribal god Allah is a remake of the Semitic god El or 'il/ilu, who bore many of the epithets eventually attached to his later Arab incarnation, including "the Merciful."

If Osman had investigated pre-biblical, pre-Israelite and pre-Islamic Sumero-Semitic mythology, he would have found a much better path to follow. His lack of knowledge of mythology is starkly obvious on every page, as he brings up the most unhelpful data from Egypt in an effort to prove that Akhenaten was the "historical Moses." The effort is full of needless and tedious digressions that seem to be included to demonstrate Osman's erudition about Egyptian history. While he appears to be presenting himself as a "real Egyptian" he seems unaware that Arab Muslims are much later invaders of Egypt and are not natives. This history must be incorporated into his perspective, because his ethnicity does not have experience with the ancient Egyptian religion.

Not the First Monotheist

In this regard, Akhenaten was not the discoverer of a "pure monotheism" as one thinks of when considering Judaism and Islam. This purported monotheism is really the sole factor upon which all Moses-as-Akhenaten scholarship is based, and it can be demonstrated to be an erroneous impression, which is what I have done in the beginning of my Moses book. The entire argument therefore collapses with that one fact, which those engaged in what they believe to be "pure monotheism" are evidently not able to see clearly. The biblical monotheism - itself an illusion - cannot be traced back either to Moses or Akhenaten or Moses as Akhenaten.

I do not mean to sound harsh, but I was unable to obtain many germane facts from this book, and many of my relatively few "stickies" are on pages not with useful factual information but on those with comments revealing Osman's Muslim bias and attempt at pushing Koranic propaganda. The parts dedicated to shoring up the grandiosity of Israelites in Egypt by claiming that Joseph was an important pharaoh called Yuya have not been accepted by mainstream scholarship, although that fact in itself is not necessarily relevant, as the mainstream often takes longer to catch up to pioneers. The problem is that the arguments for this connection are simply unconvincing, as is the case with the entire premise of Moses as Akhenaten.

Osman (15) points out that the Moses tale jumps from his birth to his adulthood, omitting his childhood completely, as is the case with Jesus, who, after his temple performance at 12, disappears until he is about 28 or 30. This fact of skipping the hero's childhood is a reflection not of "biography" but of myth and should have served as a clue that would have prevented going down the wrong path.

No Historical Background

Time and again, we see extrapolations that fall short and that once more reflect a lack of knowledge about mythology. For example, when discussing Moses's first wife, Zipporah, it would be helpful to know that "Zipporah" is a Semitic term for the planet and goddess Venus/Aphrodite and that the Greek god Dionysus was also married to Venus/Aphrodite. If we realize that Moses story shares much in common with the Bacchus myth, we will understand many of these motifs, including Zipporah's strange behavior in throwing a foreskin at Moses's feet (Exod 4:25). If we look at these figures as "historical," such tales are beyond bizarre (to be explained in my book). Moreover, their mythical nature explains why there is no historical record for these individuals, no familial lineage clearly laid out, a fact reflected in Osman's intense struggle to fit them into history and find their counterparts in Egypt and the Levant.

To his credit, Osman now and again brings up some good points that throw details of the biblical tale into doubt, which he can do and still maintain that the Koran has the "real" story. In this regard, it should be noted that the authors of the Koran apparently drew some of their Mosaic biographical padding from the famed Epic of Gilgamesh, as had the Jews centuries before them, this latter fact to be demonstrated also in my book.

Shasu of Yhw

One of these points (48) has to do with the equation of the wandering pastoralist Shasus as progenitors of some of the southern Israelites, particularly the Yahwists of Judea. However, these ancestors of some of the southern Israelites are not all of the Israelites, and their being driven out of Egypt is not the Exodus. Some of the Shasu of Yhw may have harbored ill will for centuries, having encapsulated the bitter experience of the Hyksos expulsion in one of their lamentations/songs common to the Canaanite and Amorite tribes whence they came. This expulsion, however, was not a "persecution of Jews," as Osman claimed. The "Jews" didn't exist until centuries later, and the Hyksos-Shasus were neither slaves nor persecuted. (Much more about this subject also in my Moses book.)

The Name Moses

Osman is also correct to point out that it is hardly credible that an Egyptian pharaoh's daughter would name the discovered baby with a Hebrew moniker, i.e., "Moses," meaning "to draw out" (as from the water), particularly since the Hebrews were supposedly dreaded slaves. Would a royal Egyptian mother truly raise her child to be called all his life by a Hebrew name? This fact has led to the belief that "Moses" is from the Egyptian word mes, meaning "born." Again, this subject is discussed in detail in my book. Suffice it to say, Osman takes his insight once again down the wrong path, unfortunately, not realizing that this motif indicates the mythical nature of the tale, contrary to the convoluted reasoning he attempts.

Time and again when reading these sorts of historicizing books, I am struck by the singular fact that if the authors were knowledgeable about mythology, they would know what they are looking at and would not be making tortured attempts at creating "biography" and "history." Instead of recognizing the mythmaking as deliberate because it is based on older mythological formulas - as would become obvious from studying ancient Sumero-Semitic texts - Osman (67) remarks:

Quote:
Later, the biblical editor, who may not have had any knowledge of the original name of the greatest Jewish leader, attempted to put forward a Hebrew explanation of the Egyptian word Moses in order to sever any possible link between Moses and Egypt.

The interpretation suits Osman's purpose, of course, to demonstrate that Moses was the Egyptian pharaoh Akhenaten, not a Hebrew slave.

Pedophilia

In a section (76) about the Egyptian queen Tiye's age of marriage at eight years old, Osman shockingly draws upon the story of Mohammed marrying a nine year old:

Quote:
This would not have been unusual in that era. The prophet Muhammad married a nine-year-old girl when he himself was 50, and I think the custom of marrying young girls who had not yet reached puberty accounts for the number of "barren" women who later gave birth to children a in variety of biblical stories.

One's mouth fairly drops open at this point for a number of reasons. Firstly, Osman has just admitted that Mohammed "married" a nine-year old girl, a point that Muslim apologists continually deny, even though the sahih ("authorized") hadiths depict the "wife" Aisha as being only six years old when "married" to Mohammed, who is portrayed as having "consummating" the marriage when she was nine and he was 53.

Secondly, the fact that Osman proudly follows such a man and has no problem acknowledging this child marriage - which becomes rape when the girl is nine - is distressing, to say the least. Moreover, he is claiming here that the biblical stories depicting wives as "barren" represent the same type of child rape, which was "not unusual in that era." In other words, all these men were having sex with pre-pubescent girls, the very definition of pedophilia. Yet, Osman blinks not an eye at such behaviors.

Divine Kingship

If that shock is not enough for one to close the book at this point, the tediousness continues for another 150+ pages, most of which in my estimation were forgettable. There is a fairly significant error on p. 163:

Quote:
The God introduced by Moses to Israel is often spoken of and addressed as a "king" (Isaiah 41:21, 44:6, 52:7) and the so-called Enthronement Psalms of Jehovah (Psalms 47:93, 96-9) emphasize this kingly idea of the Lord. Yet th attribution of kingship to Jehovah was certainly foreign to Israelite thought at the time of the Exodus.

Firstly, it should be noted that the "time of the Exodus" has been debated since antiquity and, although the 13th century is currently the favored era, the facts point to this event as a mythical motif, not a historical happening.

Secondly, although it is apparently Osman's intention to demonstrate that the idea of God as a king must have emanated from Egypt, the god of the Exodus stories in the Bible is not Yahweh but significantly El, the Canaanite high god. El most assuredly was viewed in Canaanite/proto-Israelite thought as a "king," called mlk in Semitic. (See, e.g., Dr. Aicha Rahmouni's Divine Epithets in the Ugaritic Alphabet Texts.)

After all the digressions and arguments that fall short of the mark, Osman concludes that Akhenaten was Moses, and he goes into a lengthy scenario of how the pharaoh ran off into the desert and engaged in his worship, which became Judaism eventually. Returning from the desert retreat, Akhenaten/Moses gets into a fight with the current pharaoh, who chases him away. Of course, despite the previous pages of attempts to make this story so, there remains no documentation or artifact that demonstrates this conclusion.

In reality, as I show in my Moses book, the notion of a dramatic discovery of "pure monotheism" is erroneous, and Akhenaten is provably not the historical Moses, as there was no such figure. Like Jesus, Moses is a fictional compilation of characters, and I lay plain this fascinating syncretism in Did Moses Exist? The Myth of the Israelite Lawgiver.

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 17, 2013 3:40 pm 
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Serabit el-Khadim and the Golden Calf

Here's an addendum to the post above about the Moses/Akhenaten book by Ahmed Osman. On pp. 169ff, Osman discusses a temple found at the ancient turquoise mine at Serabit el-Khadim in the southwestern Sinai. Because the worship there involved Semitic gods, Osman concludes that the site is where Akhenaten fled to and Judaism started. This temple was begun in very ancient times and included a shrine to the goddess Hathor, who was Egyptian but also was featured in the temple at Byblos by the Semites later called "Phoenicians" by the Greeks.

In consideration of the fact of the longstanding cultural exchange between the Egyptians and the Byblians, this shrine should not surprise us. It is also surmised that the Egyptians working these turquoise mines used northwestern Semites as laborers or slaves. It seems odd that Egyptians would build a temple shrine to the deity of slaves, however, and this fact may indicate these laborers were being paid and were in the mines voluntarily. The presence of apparently Semitic inscriptions written in what is called "proto-Sinaitic script" would indicate also a certain amount of respect for these "slaves," especially since at least one of them seems to address a deity, the Lady Hathor.

Queen Tiy/Tiye

In any event, although there was found at the mine a bust of Queen Tiye, mother of Akhenaten, this site is not provably where Akhenaten himself ended up and began his "Jewish" cult, as the Hebrew patriarch Moses. The mines were in use for thousands of years beginning long before Akhenaten's time and during the reigns of many Egyptian pharaohs. It would be useful to know what artifacts of other pharaohs' reigns were discovered in the shrine. Akhenaten himself may have gone to the wealth-producing site of Serabit at some point in his life, but he did not begin the Jewish religion there.

Hathor the Cow and the Calf of El

The fact that the Byblians worshipped Hathor explains why there were Semitic features in the shrine. These Semitic features existed for centuries before the time of Akhenaten, among the Canaanites, Amorites and others. Therefore, they did not originate with Akhenaten in the desert.

Nor does the fact that Hathor was the "cow" and her solar son Horus, the "golden calf," an indication that the Serabit site was the place where Moses destroyed the idol. The episode in the Bible appears to be a reworking of an old Canaanite/Ugaritic formula (KTU 1.3:III:46; Rahmouni, 256):

Quote:
I indeed smote the beloved of 'Ilu [El], Yammu,
I indeed annihilated Naharu, the god of the immense (waters)
I indeed captured the dragon of the two flames,
I smote the twisting (/twisted) serpent,
The dominant one who has seven heads,
I smote the beloved of 'Ilu, 'ArS,
I destroyed the calf of 'Ilu, 'tk,
I smote the bitch of 'Ilu, 'ISItu (fire),
I annihilated the daughter of 'Ilu, Dbb (Flame).

The calf of the Canaanite high god El - one of the major deities in the Old Testament - is the god 'tk or Atk, Atik, Atiku, Ataku, the "divine bull-calf" or "divine bullock."

Since there is no evidence of a historical Exodus as depicted in the Pentateuch, and since this Canaanite scripture above is clearly not "historical," unless we admit dragons and seven-headed serpents are part of reality, it is likely the biblical motif is based significantly on El's golden calf. In the process, it might be construed also that this proscription of calf worship included that of Horus and Molech, as well as El himself and Baal, all of whom were represented as "the bull" or "the calf."

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 27, 2013 2:00 pm 
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Dick Carrier wrote:
"In the 1970s, the view that Moses and other Old Testament patriarchs were mythical was considered scandalous, but now is largely mainstream. It is now pretty much the standard view in secular academia, and even has begrudging support from many devout Jewish and Christian scholars. The same hypothesis for Jesus is now where that hypothesis was in the 1970s. Within forty years, the same outcome may prevail."

- 'On the Historicity of Jesus' thread

Blog: Mainstream scholarship: Abraham and Moses mythicism is respectable

I would add that it really should only take 5 to 10 years to put the last nail in Jesus's coffin in academia now that we have the internet but, SINCE it's Jesus, I'll go 10 to 15 because Christians will do everything they can to uphold that house of cards, but that house of cards will fall.

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PostPosted: Fri Oct 04, 2013 11:39 am 
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Semitic Influence on Egyptian Texts

Here is another excerpt from Did Moses Exist? showing the cultural exchange between Egypt and the Levant.

The Canaanite myth of the battle between the gods Baal and Yamm/Yam spread well beyond the borders of the Levant, making its way to Egypt. As concerns the cultural exchange between the Levant and Egypt, Egyptologist Dr. Donald B. Redford remarks:

Quote:
A number of Asiatic myths appear rendered with very little modification into Egyptian. The aforementioned story of Yam and the Goddess, so well known from Ugarit and the Phoenician cities of the Levantine coast, has turned up in a beautiful, though fragmentary, papyrus now in the J.P. Morgan library. Yam exacts tribute from the gods, who reluctantly acknowledge him as overlord…. it would appear that Seth (Ba‘al) eventually championed the gods’ cause and defeated Yam. Other papyri deal with the sex life of Anath and her lusty paramour of the Ba‘al-type of deity. Here again Seth adopts the role of Ba‘al….

Thus, the Baal-Yamm myth migrated to Egypt, with the Egyptian god Set/Seth substituting for Baal.

Redford cites other writings that reveal Near Eastern influence on Egyptian culture, including language, remarking:

Quote:
The impact Levantine and Mesopotamian culture made on Egypt of the New Kingdom is nowhere more vividly reflected than in the lexicon of the Egyptian language. Hundreds of Canaanite words turn up in New Kingdom documents…

Hence, we learn that for centuries the cultural exchange between Canaan and Egypt included myths and language. This cultural exchange went both ways, and it did not end magically when the Israelites emerged from the hill settlements in the Iron Age, around 1200 BCE.

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PostPosted: Wed Oct 23, 2013 6:39 pm 
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More on the Moses-Dionysus Connection

Here's a new post relevant to my forthcoming book "Did Moses Exist?" This comparison between Moses and the Greek wine god Dionysus can be found in dozens of books from the 17th century onward. As I demonstrate in my book, the parallels are well founded in the literary and archaeological record. I have a list of about 40 of them, all cited with primary sources, many of which are included in the original language (mostly Greek).

From my study, it is unquestionable that Moses is a mythical remake of the solar, wine, fertility and serpent gods, goddesses and heroes of the Mediterranean. One of the main characters Moses appears to have been based on is the famed Gilgamesh, hugely popular in the Levant and Fertile Crescent during the second and first millennia BCE. This connection is furthered in the Quran, centuries into the common era.

I believe the information I've put together in DME is extremely exciting. It opens up a whole new world of understanding antiquity. Even after my decades of study, several elements in my book were "Aha!" moments for me, including the unraveling of the mysterious "shoot/sprout of Jesse" at Isaiah 11:1, said to be the coming messiah, associated with Jesus as Romans 15:12. If you were to guess that this horticultural "messiah/savior" is the GRAPEVINE, you would be correct. Like Dionysus, Jesus's blood is the juice of the grape, i.e., wine. (Mt 26:28) And so on.

Darwinism by Chauncey Wright

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Be sure to see other such literature in my ebook The Moses-Dionysus Connection.

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Thankfully, I had many courageous pioneers ahead of me, such as all those who made the Moses-Dionysus connection beginning in the 17th century. Initially, these were mainly clergymen attempting to show that Homer and the other Greek poets/writers had plagiarized the Bible. That effort went nowhere, but the parallels were very real and striking, so eventually the freethinkers of the 19th and early 20th centuries glommed onto them to show that the borrowing was in the other direction.

My work goes back before there was written Hebrew, many centuries prior to the composition of the Bible, using Ugaritic, Sumerian, Babylonian, Egyptian and Greek texts.

On Facebook, someone asked about Marduk's connection. In this regard, American Assyriologist Rev. Dr. Albert T. Clay - an alumnus of my alma mater, Franklin and Marshall College - states:

Quote:
Marduk has been regarded as being the contracted pronunciation of a syncretized name Amar-Utug, combining the West Semitic god Amar or Amur with Utug.… Mash was the name of a deity in Amurru as well as the name of a country and a mountain.

Note the word "Mash" here. It is essentially the same Semitic term as "Moses," which is "Mosheh" in Hebrew, the root of which is משה mashah.

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 05, 2013 1:57 pm 
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When Was the Old Testament Written?

Here's a brief summary I composed in response to a comment on my blog indicating the late composition of the Old Testament, which had a reference to "plagiarized passage" from other cultures.

The actual physical composition of the Old Testament may have occurred during and after the time of the Babylonian Exile (598/7-538 BCE).

As concerns "plagiarized passages," I show in my book Did Moses Exist? that some of the Pentateuch and other OT texts assuredly represent traditions found in older literature such as the Egyptian, Canaanite and Sumero-Babylonian. For example, Psalm 104 draws either directly or indirectly from Akhenaten's "Hymn to the Sun," composed during the 14th century BCE. The Hymn may have been rendered in Canaanite centuries before it was composed in Hebrew and written down, but the connection between it and Psalm 104 is certain.

As we know also, much of the Genesis cosmology can be found in older Sumero-Babylonian mythological texts, such as the Enuma Elish.

In addition, the core myth of the Exodus, as another example, can be found in the Ugaritic/Canaanite Baal cycle, which dates to at least the 12th-13th century BCE.

Also, much of the Moses myth appears to have been based on the Sumero-Amorite/Babylonian Epic of Gilgamesh, parts of which were composed by at least 1800 BCE. Then there's the wine-god aspects of the Moses myth, based significantly on Dionysus, whose theonym dates to at least 1200 BCE. It should be recalled that there were Greeks in the Levant by around that time as well.

And so on. There is much more to the subject, but you would be correct in surmising that the actual Hebrew texts were not composed until centuries later than the events they purport to record, which in reality are mythical. Written Hebrew was not created until after the development of the Phoenician alphabet, around 1050 BCE, so nothing could have been written down in Hebrew before that time.

Neither Hebrew nor the Israelites as a separate people appear in the historical record until into the first millennium BCE, almost a thousand years after "Abraham" purportedly founded their unique tribe.

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PostPosted: Fri Nov 08, 2013 9:26 pm 
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Acharya wrote:
I believe the information I've put together in DME is extremely exciting. It opens up a whole new world of understanding antiquity. Even after my decades of study, several elements in my book were "Aha!" moments for me, including the unraveling of the mysterious "shoot/sprout of Jesse" at Isaiah 11:1, said to be the coming messiah, associated with Jesus at Romans 15:12. If you were to guess that this horticultural "messiah/savior" is the GRAPEVINE, you would be correct. Like Dionysus, Jesus's blood is the juice of the grape, i.e., wine. (Mt 26:28)

Hi Acharya, thanks for drawing attention to this key text Isaiah 11:1. As The Blue Letter Bible shows, Jesse's Branch, conventionally understood from Romans 15 as a prophecy of Jesus of Nazareth, is Yishay Netser in Hebrew, a phrase that sounds remarkably close to Jesus of Nazareth. While the Jesse and Joshua names are different, this text bears analysis in terms of the Netser or Watcher Gnostic origin of the Christ Myth.


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 12, 2013 3:28 pm 
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Acharya, you mentioned the Nephilim on page 1 of this thread, so, I'm curious if you cover the Nephilim and the Anunnaki, or, is it too off-topic for this Moses project? I figured, maybe, you worked in your Who are the Anunnaki? article?

Who do the Nephilim signify?

Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nephilim

Forum thread: Who are the Anunnaki?

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