Defending the Theistic View

The Myth of Jesus: A Refutation of the Zeitgeist — Part 10

After Zeitgeist makes the claim that the childhood story of Moses is a plagiarized piece of pagan lit (a claim refuted here) it goes on to make further accusations of plagiarism about Moses attacking the Biblical account of the Ten Commandments as an imitation of other similar stories in ancient paganism. — It claims,

Moses is known as the Law Giver, the giver of the Ten Commandments, the Mosaic Law. However, the idea of a Law being passed from God to a prophet on a mountain is also a very old motif. Moses is just a law giver in a long line of law givers in mythological history. In India, Manou was the great law giver. In Crete, Minos ascended Mount Dicta, where Zeus gave him the sacred laws. While in Egypt there was Mises, who carried stone tablets and upon them the laws of god were written.

moses1After saying this, Zeitgeist lists the names of the lawgivers to create the impression that they were all copied from each other:“Manou, Minos, Mises, Moses.”– It places Mises right before Moses for obvious reasons: They sound pretty similar.

Beginning with the first law giver listed, Manou — It seems to me that Zeitgeist is giving an alternative spelling for Manu, the Hindu law giver to whom the Laws of Manu are ascribed to traditionally.

However, one need not look far to find how any case of Moses copying the story of Manu comes crashing down.

According to the Columbia Encyclopedia,

They [the Laws of Manu] were compiled, probably between 200 BC and AD 200, from diverse ancient sources and provide detailed rules, presumably directed to Brahman priests, governing ritual and daily life. In particular they seek to validate and preserve the high caste position of the Brahmans. (Emphasis Mine)

The irrelevancy of this is obvious. Manu’s laws were compiled much too late to have any influence on Moses’ ten commandments. Moses wrote in the 15th century BC. — To be honest, there is scholarly debate as to when the Manu laws were published, but 200 BC is the date referred to the most. (Text Link)

As for the second law giver, Minos, the Greek Historian Diodorus Siculus (who wrote in the first century BC) describes the event of Minos receiving laws as when he conversed with Zeus in a cave. It so happens that the cave was on the slopes of Mount Ida. But that is where the similarities end.

According to Greek Mythology, Minos would go to the cave on Mount Ida every nine years so that his father, Zeus, would help him to draw up new laws. (Text Link) After his death, because he received laws from Zeus, he became a judge in the realm of Hades along with his brother. (Gods and Mortals in Classical Mythology, Page 281) — See the differences yet?

The problem with Zeitgeist’s connecting Minos and Moses is that gods and law giving are only expected in religions. The slightest similarity, despite the differences, does not indicate that one copied off the other. It’s actually expected and can easily be explained away as a coincidence.  — Zeitgeist also got the name of the mountain wrong. It mistakenly calls the mountain that Minos received laws from Mount Dicta.

As for the third law giver mentioned by Zeitgeist, Mises — I have not been able to find any reference to any Egyptian law giver with such a name. Every single search I made to a single reference to him has come up empty. Curiously, this is the man whose name Zeitgeist emphasised as being most like Moses.

Zeitgeist uses logical fallacy to attempt to tie Moses with these three law givers. The argument is “They received laws from gods . So did Moses. These religions pre-date Moses so this must mean Moses copied them.”— This fallacy is shown with the first law giver they mention. Manu was a Hindu law giver. Hinduism pre-dates Moses but apparently his laws post-date the Hebrew Bible and possibly the New Testament.

The last claim that Zeitgeist makes about Moses and the Ten Commandments is that they were taken from the book of the dead. It lists them and attempts to make te connection.

The Book of the Dead

The Book of the Dead

The film comments,

And as far as the Ten Commandments, they are taken outright from Spell 125 of the Egyptian Book of the Dead. What the Book of the Dead phrased “I have not stolen” became “Thou shall not steal,” “I have not killed” became “Thou shall not kill,” “I have not told lies” became “Thou shall not bare false witness” and so forth.

The passage in the Book of the Dead that Zeitgeist is referring to is called “the Declaration of Innocence.” As far as the quotes from the Book go, they are accurate. But the film is making a huge logical fallacy. It is arguing that because killing and stealing are both condemned in both the Book of the Dead and in the Ten Commandments that therefore Moses must have copied it. But any civilization would prohibit anything as basic as murder and theft.

On top of this, there are several declarations on innocence in this passage that have no resemblance to the Ten Commandments,

I have not taken milk from a child’s mouth, I have not driven small cattle from their herbage, I have not snared birds for the gods’ harpoon barbs, I have not caught fish of their lagoons, I have not stopped the flow of water in its seasons. I have not built a dam against flowing water, I have not quenched a fire in its time. I have not failed to observe the days for haunches of meat. I have not kept cattle away from the God’s property, I have not blocked the God at his processions.

Get my drift? — If this was Moses’ source for the Ten Commandments, we would expect to see something similar to what is listed here. Why didn’t Zeitgeist list any of these other sayings? Because it would have destroyed its case because there are a lot more differences than similarities between the Declaration of Innocence and the Ten Commandments.

In conclusion, the basis for Zeitgeist’s conclusions are based on logical fallacies as well as over simplifications. Apparently in its attempts to tie Moses’ law giving to Manu and Minos, the film makers never considered the fact that gods giving laws to their followers is really not so unusual. And it doesn’t help their case that the Laws of Manu are of very young origin when compared to the Bible.

The attempt to tie the Ten Commandments to the Book of the Dead, at least to me, comes across as a desperate try to link the Bible to Paganism. But its links are based on morality that is so basic that it really has no case.

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14 responses

  1. Mike

    How sure are you about not being able to find any references to a Mises?

    How sure are you about the Book of the Dead and what would have come through to a reader of it?

    How sure are you about the times these people lived?

    December 30, 2008 at 1:00 pm

  2. krissmith777

    Mike says:

    “How sure are you about not being able to find any references to a Mises?”

    I;m very sure. I’ve looked in a mountain of reference sources such as encyclopedias as well as Egypt websites. I cannot find a single reference to a Mises of Egypt in Egyptian mythology. As far as I can tell, no such reference exists. IF you don’t believe me then search for it yourself.

    “How sure are you about the Book of the Dead and what would have come through to a reader of it?”

    What do you mean? What I am saying is that what similarities exist between the “Decalration of Innocence” found in the Book of the Dead are only superficial. It goes without saying that prohibiting something as basic as killing or stealing is only common sence and Moses wouldn’t have had to read the Book of the dead to know about adding it into a moral code.

    It’s way to basic and there is no reason to assume any influece.

    “How sure are you about the times these people lived?”

    Actually I am very positive. The Exodus is dated to 480 years before the fourth year of King Solomon.(1 Kings 6:1)That means the Exodus happened at about 1437 BC placing Moses’ life from 1517 BC to 1397 BC. I’m certain of these dates because the evidence supports them.

    December 31, 2008 at 11:40 pm

  3. If anyone has stolen from anyone, I believe it has been other cultures stealing the ideas of God and Ancient Israel. This included the Egyptians. Examine the extreme similarities of the plagues of the Exodus and the Egyptian Ipuwer Papyrus writings.

    Blood

    Exodus 7:20 “All the waters that were in the river turned to blood”

    Papyrus 2:10 “All the waters that were in the river were turned to blood.”

    Exodus 7:21 “There was blood throughout all the land of Egypt.”

    Papyrus 2:5-6 “Plague is throughout the land. Blood is everywhere. “

    Exodus 7:24 “And all the Egyptians dug round about the river for water to drink; for they could not drink of the water of the river”

    Papyrus 2:10 “Men shrank from tasting…and thirst for water”.

    Cattle

    Exodus 9:3 “Behold, the hand of the Lord is upon thy cattle which is in the field, upon the horses, upon the asses, upon the camels, upon the oxen, and upon the sheep: there shall be grievous murrain (disease).”

    Papyrus 5:5 “All animals, their hearts weep. Cattle moan.”

    Darkness

    Exodus 10:22 “And there was a thick darkness in all the land of Egypt.”

    Papyrus 9:11 “The land is not light. “

    Hail

    Exodus 9:25 “And the hail smote every herb on the field, and brake every tree in the field”.

    Papyrus 9:23 “The fire ran along the ground. There was hail, and fire mingled with the hail.”
    Firstborn

    Exodus 12:29 “At midnight the Lord smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt.“

    Papyrus 4:3 “Forsooth, the children of princes are dashed against the walls.”

    Exodus 12:30 “There was not a house where there was not one dead.”

    Papyrus 2:13 “He who places his brother in the ground is everywhere.“

    Exodus 12:27 “He (the angel of the Lord) smote the Egyptians.”

    Papyrus 6:12 “Forsooth, the children of the princes are cast out in the streets, “

    Exodus 12:30 “There was a great cry in Egypt.”

    Papyrus 3:14 “It is groaning that is throughout the land, mingled with lamentations.”

    1. A.H. Gardiner, Admonitions of an Egyptian Sage from a hieratic papyrus in Leiden (1909). Historians are almost unanimous in dating this papyrus to the very beginning of the Middle Kingdom. The events it describes, consequently, deal with the end of the Old Kingdom.

    2. Renfre Colin, Bahn Paul (2004). Archaeology: Theories, Methods and Practice (Fourth Edition ed.). pp. 144–145. ISBN 0-500-28441-5.

    To question Jesus’ existence is to ignore empirical, voluminous evidence by the Bible and secular Historians. Why would nearly 100 ancient Historians include Christ in their writings if they knew he didn’t exist?

    Josephus, Tacitus, Gibbons, and others (all of which are highly respected) would not have written about someone that was only a myth. They wrote with certainty when speaking of Jesus. These writings were not theoretical, but factual. The wrote non-fiction history.

    Even skeptical historians agree that the New Testament is a remarkable historical document. So we can say with authority that the Bible has stronger manuscript support than any other work of classical literature, including Homer, Plato, Aristotle, Caesar, and Tacitus, who all pale in evidential comparison.

    The roughly 24,000 manuscripts of the New Testament date from as early as the 1st and 2nd century (55AD – 160AD). The manuscripts written in Coptic, Syrian and Latin agree with each other in text and context. Only slight and insignificant (grammatical) differences were found, but nearly 98% of the text’s had the same writing’s.

    The Old Testament (which also testify of Jesus) is well represented too with over 900 documents representing as many as 350 separate works in multiple copies. One cave alone (4 of the Qumran) contained 520 full texts in 15,000 fragments. The Greek translation of the Old Testament is called the Septuagint. Septuagint is Latin for “seventy”, representing the seventy scholars that meticulously translated the scriptures during the third century B. C.

    It is no accident that Jesus is the most widely recognized, well known and written about Person that has ever existed.

    You can not ignore the enormous number of original documents that make up the Canonized books of the Bible. These are the most valued of all sources to Historians (a primary source) in validating past events. They are empirical.

    The Word of God (the Bible) was inspired by the Word of God (Jesus)[John 1:1-3) and therefore His testimony is true. That Jesus lived, was buried and then resurrected. He lives today and has lived for eternity. There is an absolute avalanche of evidence for His resurrection, including hundreds who were eye-witnesses of seeing Him after His death and burial. This is not a blind faith but a proven fact.

    The Bible is the greatest Primary Source about Jesus. They are His words and His words are of the highest reliability there is. He can not lie. He has sworn by His Own Name, for there is none higher than the name of Jesus. Evidence continues to build with recent discoveries (2006) like the bones and remains of Caiaphas, the high priest, a written reference of King David, and a stone tablet bearing Pontius Pilate’s name, Egyptian references of Joseph, and dozens more. The list is still growing. The Bible is the most comprehensively documented (manuscripts), supported (archeologically), preserved (nearly 30,000 manuscripts) compilation of historical records and events ever assembled in human history.

    In all of human history’s ancient antiquities, writings and records, none approaches the validity of the Bible nor has any person, dead or alive, ever had more written about Him than Jesus Christ. What are your opinions about Jesus’ historicity or His being an actual figure in human history, early in the first-century AD’s?

    July 4, 2009 at 7:55 pm

  4. Well, the filmmaker probably got the name “Mises” wrong. He was probably talking about “Menes”, which is more similar to “Minos.”

    July 29, 2009 at 4:18 am

  5. Since the filmmaker admitted that he “probably got the name ‘Mises’ wrong”, and, as Kris pointed out that “Menes was a completely different person than Moses.”[the link, I think, establishes this fact]; then how much more of this movie’s claims are we supposed to swallow as true?

    So far, these errors are conclusive enough evidence for me that this film, ought to be considered as fiction only.

    ————
    As for the comment:

    “How sure are you about the Book of the Dead and what would have come through to a reader of it?”

    Is there some ancient manuscripts from Eygpt that support this “Menes” story above and beyond what Moses has in support? If your only source is the Book of the Dead, then do you know that it is true!? Are not Egyptian and Hebrew dissimilar?

    Now…how much supportive documenation does Moses have by manuscript from the Old Testament? Glad you asked:
    (Menes having precious little)

    Over 5,600 Dead Sea Scrolls with many different authors, all agreeing textually with each other (about .01% which includes vowel’s differentiation, consonant blends, etc. but never affecting the text or the context).

    Forty authors in 3 different languages, covering 1,500 years, with 2 billion in publication since 1455. The Bible has always been the world’s best seller. It has stood as is (as when cannonized) for thousands of years. Unchanged.

    From secular human history, we have some 7 remaining manuscripts of one of the earliest philosophers, Plato, from around 300 B.C. But the most recent copy of these compositions came 900 years after they were written!

    Aristotle has 49 copies of his writings and the copy that is closest to the time of his living also came 900 years after he had written them.

    Menes…?

    July 29, 2009 at 6:33 pm

  6. Dumb ass. you can’t debunk the TRUTH. Moron.

    November 13, 2009 at 6:11 am

    • krissmith777

      I didn’t try to debunk the truth. I debunked trash. No competent scholar takes the claimes made by Zeitgeist seriously.

      November 15, 2009 at 2:54 am

  7. You can not debunk the Bible. That is my point here. Sorry you have to resort to calling names. I think it weakens your argument. No wait, there is not much worth responding to in your remarks because there is nothing you have presented as counter-arguments or evidence to refute what’s been said, simply insulting someone. The easy-out I’d say.

    November 13, 2009 at 7:40 pm

  8. eddy

    Its the Truth i saw the tape myself with enough evidience and confirmed it also at Google because thoses Guys are working Belive me.They where on CNN, Because they requested for sum books and the state did not want to release them, but why? (Rights)Law so if u ask me there are more evidience more that wat u know!!!

    January 7, 2010 at 6:04 pm

    • krissmith777

      Eddy,

      As for the state not giving them their money, let me respond to it this way . . .

      — If what you say is true, then they didn’t get their state funds because they opperate away from the scholarly consensus. . . It’s for the same reason why so-called “Creation Scientists” don’t get THEIR funds from state governments. . . In the same way Creationists are “pseudo-scientists” and therefore do not deserve any public funds, the same is true about these pseudo-scholars who keep pushing the fringe idea that Jesus never existed.

      Just because the state didn’t fund them, that doesn’t indicate any kind of conspiracy.

      Take it from someone who majors in History (that would be me). — Zeitgeist has NO academic value. It is baloney!

      And you are citing google??? — Google is NOT a source!! It is a web search engine. And lots of garbbage shows up on web search engines.

      January 11, 2010 at 5:03 am

  9. DrMits

    First of all let me congratulate you for your very thorough work in scrutinizing so many of the claims made in Zeitgeist. I agree that the authors of the film try to portray as facts what frequently amounts to wishful thinking, exaggeration or plainly false claims. HOWEVER: Despite the fact that it is a rather clumsy attempt, it still DOES – in my opinion – point to the right direction.

    Christianity only started to assume its current form under Constantine at the First Ecumenical Council of Nicaea in 325 AD. This date marks the formal “embrace” of imperial authority and can be regarded as the turning point for the eventual prevalence of Christianity over paganism. This is a time when the Christian doctrine gets nothing short of re-invented according to imperial wishes.

    Over the next roughly 100 years, the emperors presiding over the Ecumenical Councils decided on issues ranging from fundamental matters, such as which texts should or should not be included in the New Testament, whether Christ was both man and god or just one of the two, to more trivial matters like setting the dates for the celebration of Christmas and Easter.

    Through this process, “imperial” Christianity took on a number of attributes deliberately picked from existing pagan cults, in order to facilitate the transition to the new religion and underline Christian dominance over paganism. Many such pagan characteristics taken up by Christianity did in fact relate to the worship of the Sun-God and had obvious astronomical references. Emperor Constantine himself was a worshiper of the “Invincible Sun-God” (sol invictus), which was portrayed on his coins.

    Important festivities of the sun-god cult took place at the winter solstice on 21 December and the vernal equinox on 21 March, both of which are considered to have guided the choice of the Christian dates of December 25th (birth of Christ) and March 25th (annunciation of the Virgin Mary in eastern Orthodox leturgics).

    This is not to say that Christianity is nothing more than an allegory for the worship of the Sun-God. What is however the case, is that the transition from paganism to Christianity resulted in the incorporation of some pagan attributes, which still survive in Christianity, albeit in a whole different context. The solar cult is one such source of pagan attributes embedded in Christianity. I just think that Zeitgeist basically picks up on this but blows it completely out of proportion, using misguided or even false arguments, as you have clearly demonstrated.

    February 3, 2011 at 11:13 am

    • krissmith777

      DrMits,

      Thanks for commenting. –Though I have announced I would not take comments on this particular blog anymore, I think I can make an exception for you.- Despite out obvious disagreements, I do think your comment is really fair. Though I am a Christian, that does not mean that I think that every story in the Bible is necessarily historical; to me it seems that the further in the past we go in the Bible, the less historical it is (I.e., Adam and Eve and possibly Joshua’s conquest), and the more recent we get, the more historical the Bible becomes (i.e., King David, Ezra-Nehemiah, and Jeremiah).

      February 5, 2011 at 3:13 am

      • DrMits

        krissmith777

        I am very sorry, I missed your announcement that you would stop taking comments on this bolg and I am very flattered that you decided to make an exception on my account.

        I wish you all the best.

        February 6, 2011 at 12:23 am

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