Defending the Theistic View

Posts tagged “Bible

I’m Moving my Blog!

Actually, I am transfering to two separate blogs with two different themes.

For posts on Biblical history, I will he posting here:

As for posts debunking the “Jesus Myth,” I’ll be posting here:

Well, see you there.

The Parallels Between Jesus and Buddha — A Refutation of Acharya S

Between the years 563 to 483 BC, there was a man in India named Siddhārtha Gautama better known as the Buddha. He was a man who taught principles for peace, harmony as well as love. He was raised in luxury by his father Shuddodana who was determined to not allow his son to see anything unpleasant. This was to keep the fact that there was ugliness and suffering in the world away from him.

One day when Siddhārtha was twenty-nine, he asked his father if he could visit a neighboring city. His father decided to allow him, but also attempted to have the entire city cleaned before his son should arrive. This tactic worked at first, but Siddhārtha strayed away from the rout that his father was counting on him taking and then he saw four different men on which the “four signs” were based: One was old, one was ill, one was dead and the fourth was a beggar. And frm this he came to the realization that even he would grow old and die and he began wondering what was the point of life if one was going to die. From then on he renounced his life of ease to begin a life of begging on the streets.

— By the age of 35, he had supposedly gained great insight of the causes of pain and suffering and how to eliminate it and later he ban to teach. Among his teachings, he taught the “four noble truths” which claim that 1) all life is suffering, 2) that desire causes suffering, 3) one can overcome suffering, and 4) that is would be overcome by following the Eight Fold Path.

buddhaSeveral in the “Jesus Myth” crowd have attempted to tie the Buddha to Jesus Christ by mentioning several apparent similarities between the two. — D.M. Murdock, otherwise known as Acharya S, has been one of many of the mythers that do this. Following, her claims are placed in bold while my responses are in regular font.

Buddha was born of the virgin Maya, who was considered the “Queen of Heaven.”

It is certainly true that the birth of Siddhārtha Gautama was miraculous in itself, however the claim that his mother Maya was a virgin is unsubstantiated and isn’t found in Buddhist writings. The fact is that Buddhist tradition points out that Maya and her husband King Suddhodhana were already married for twenty years before their son was born which argues all out against Queen Maya’s virginity. Most certainly, their marraige would have been consumated long before Siddhārtha Gautama’s birth. (Text link)

If Ms. Murdock’s mention of Maya being the “Queen of Heaven” is an attempt to link her to the virgin Mary, then it should also be mentioned that the idea of such a title for Mary is purely Roman Catholic and has no Biblical basis. Protestant Christianity, which is more based on the Bible than Catholicism does not recognize Mary in any such way.

He was of royal descent.

This is true for both Jesus and Buddha, however it is also incidental with absolutely no relevance at all. Arguing that this is a relevant parallel is like saying that since Queen Elizabeth I of England and Nero, the Roman Emperor were both of royal descent that they are therefore connected. Such reasoning just doesn’t work.

He crushed a serpent’s head.

I cannot find any evidence that this was said about Buddha. Even if it was, it certainly is not said about Jesus in any of the four Gospels or (as far as I know) in the New Testament at all.  — The crushing of the serpent’s head (which is considered a Messianic prophesy) actually comes from Genesis 3: 15 which was written is at least 1397 BC over 800 before the Buddha was born. This pretty much means that even if such a thing was ever said about Buddha the Hebrew Bible had the saying many centuries before Buddhism ever had existed and therefore Jesus being a Jew would not have had to imitate Buddhism for this one detail.

The fact of the matter is that “crushing a serpent’s head” is actually out of the Buddha’s character because he had resolved not to harm a single creature. As a matter of fact there is a story of him protecting a serpent. (The Story of Buddha, page 7)

Sakyamuni Buddha had 12 disciples.

This is most definitely not true. — At first the Buddha, after his renunciation, had five companions (The Story of Buddha, Pages 40 & 41). Later on, not counting the Buddha’s immediate family or royal patrons, he had a total of eleven male disciples, nine female disciples, and five lay disciples making a total of twenty-five, more than double. (Click here)

In her footnotes Ms. Murdock cites a  Travel Guide page as proof  of  “the motif of Buddha and the 12.” The page she refers to mentions a large statue of Buddha accompanied by twelve smaller Buddhas. — The problem here is that this imagery comes from the Chinese Yuan Dynasty which is dated from the 13th and 14th centuries AD. So even if this was a reflection of Jesus’ twelve disciples, it’s from a period way too late to have affected Christianity. Buddhist tradition shows, however, that the Buddha had more than twelve followers.

Besides, her source suggests that this particular scene is the “Nirvana.” If this interpretation is correct then I must point out that Buddhist tradition says that the Buddha at the time was surrounded by 500 arachants who committed to memory his teachings. (The Story of Buddha, Page 93) If this is the case then the only reason that the Buddhist relief she refers to shows twelve men is because it is much easier than depicting 500.

He performed miracles and wonders, healed the sick, fed 500 men from a “small basket of cakes,” and walked on water.

It is true that the Buddha is associated with miracles. But this hardly proves anything because it goes without saying that miracle-workers are an expectation in any religion and therefore this alone does not imply any imitation on Jesus’ part.

Even though it is true that the Buddha did care for the sick, he used a much different method than Jesus who healed with a touch and even over long distances. Buddha would treat his patients with hot water and would bathe them. There were various patients that Buddha treated that didn’t regain their health and even died, which is not the case with Jesus. (Text Link)

I can’t find any Buddhist or Encyclopedic sources that show that Buddha fed 500 people with a “small basket of cakes.” Besides, it should be mentioned that Jesus didn’t use cakes, but rather five loaves of bread and two fish. — And as for the last claim of walking on water, this one is true. But it is also true that this parallel has its differences because the Buddha is said to have accomplished this by “levitating over a stream” to convert a non-believer to Buddhism. Jesus didn’t levitate, he just walked. And he didn’t do it to convert anyone. (Text Link)


He abolished idolatry, was a “sower of the word,” and preached “the establishment of a kingdom of righteousness.”

It would be a true statement to say that Buddha “asked his followers not to create images of him when he died,” though this doesn’t seem to be an actual command. But this really is not an issue because Buddhism is a “Non-Theistic” religion. (Click here)  Buddhist do bow to Buddha which, at least from a Christian perspective, is defined as Idolatry. — It should be mentioned that Jesus did not “abolish Idolatry,” nor did he need to because it was already legally prohibited by Jewish law. (Exodus 20: 4)

As for the last two claims that Buddha was a “sower of the word” and preached “the establishment of the kingdom of righteousness” — I can find absolutely no reference to them.

He taught chastity, temperance, tolerance, compassion, love, and the equality of all.

Okay, and so did Gandhi, Seneca and many others. These are very common ideas,  way too common to just assume that Jesus copied them from Buddha. Though these ideas are held in common between both Christianity and Buddhism, the truth is that there are differences between the two. The philosophical foundations of the two religions are actually quite different. (Text Link)

He was transfigured on a mount.

This is not true. He was transformed into the Buddha while he sat under a tree in a region in Northern India known as Bodhgaya. (Text Link) — I have been informed in an E-Mail correspondance by Eyal Aviv of George Washington University that this area is not even a mountain region.

Sakya Buddha was crucified in a sin-atonement, suffered for three days in hell, and was resurrected.

Again, this is completely false. Buddha did not die of crucifixion or even as a “sin-atonement.” He became ill and died at age eighty after eating a large meal of  “soft pork” which, according to a diagnosis of his sickness, was too large for his digestive system. (Click here) Also, he was not raised from the dead, rather his body was cremated after death. (Source)

As for suffering in hell for three days in hell, this is not true of either Buddha or Jesus.

He ascended to Nirvana or “heaven.”

Here, Ms. Murdock is showing blatant ignorance of the concept of “Nirvana.” — Nirvana is not a place, and it certainly isn’t “heaven.” It is to live on earth in a state of enlightenment which ends the cursed cycle of reincarnation for a Buddhist. (Click here)

Buddha was considered the “Good Shepherd”, the “Carpenter”, the “Infinite and Everlasting.”

There is no evidence that Buddha was ever called the “good Shepherd or even the “Carpenter.” — It is true that one sect of Buddhism (Mahayana) contains the idea of an everlasting Buddha.” But this is virtually a meaningless parallel between Jesus and Buddha considering the number of debunked parallel claims between the two made by Ms. Murdock.

He was called the “Savior of the World” and the “Light of the World.”

For once, there is truth to this. After Siddhārtha was born, a sage names Asita told his parents that if he renounced a life of luxury at the court he would indeed become the “savior of the world.” (Text Link) I cannot find a mention of Buddha being “the light of the world.” But even if it exists, it would not prove anyone did any copying.

After making these debunked claims, Ms. Murdock cites  Dr. Christian Lindtner to further prove her point that Jesus was copied from Buddhism. — Even though Dr. Lindtner is recognized in the field, he is also a noted “Jesus-Myther.” Many of the claims Ms. Murdock quotes him as saying have already been debunked such as the alleged “crucifixion” of Buddha and the “twelve disciples,” so I’m not going into too much detail. The fact that he is willing to make such easily refuted claims shows blatant dishonesty on his part.

Interestingly, he lists the “last supper” as a parallel between Jesus and Buddha. Though it is true that they had a “last supper,” the details of the two are completely different. Buddha simply ate his meal, got sick and died. — In Jesus’ case, the event was used to declare that he would be betrayed, killed and resurrected. This is way too different to assume that one account influenced the other.

He then repeats the claim that Buddha was resurrected but he leaves out the fact that if this were true then that would mean he never attained “Nirvana,” the  point of which was to prevent resurrection or reincarnation. But no dedicated Buddhist would accept this because this would mean that Buddha was not actually a Buddha. Considering that he is recognized in this field and that his claims are so easily disproved, I unfortunately have to question his honesty.

As I was researching for this blog post, I e-mailed Ms. Murdock’s claims of Jesus-Buddha parallels to several professors of Buddhism and I received a response from Eyal Aviv, Assistant Professor of the Department of Religion at George Washington University who said,

Generally, the claims made in the website you read are historically so problematic that I can simply say that they are not true [ . . . ] I would recommend you to be cautious with Web sources and rely on authoritative scholars or  religious writers from within the respective traditions you are interested in.

The truth is that even though there is what could be construed as evidence of Buddhist influence on Christianity, it is basically inconclusive. And just because there are certain similarities, this does not indicate beyond doubt that the similarities between them are a result of Buddhist influence on Christianity. (Text Link)

— So in conclusion, the claims that are made by Ms. Murdock (a.k.a., Acharya S) about parallels between Jesus and Buddha are mostly untrue. The claims that are true are so few in number and therefore can be assumed to be coincidence. Not to mention, in her list of parallels, she jumps to certain conclusions that lead her to misunderstand basic teachings of Buddhism. Considering the fact that Ms. Murdock claims to be an expert in comparative religion, this is pretty odd.

Zeitgeist Challenge Exposes Acharya S and Zeitgeist

Recently I wrote a short refutation of AcharyaS’ defence of Zeitgeist. For anyone who would like a better refutation, I am posting a video refutation which was produced by the webmasters of Zeitgeist Challenge which goes into better detail that I do.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

The Myth of Jesus: A Refutation of the Zeitgeist — Part 11

After making several assertions that Christianity is a plagiarization of pagan gods, myths and religions, Zeitgeist then makes the claim that the earliest Christian apologists were aware of the similarities and that they apparently tried to explain them away,

Justin Martyr, one of the first Christian historians and defenders, wrote: “When we say that he, Jesus Christ, our teacher, was produced without sexual union, was crucified and died, and rose again, and ascended into Heaven, we propound nothing different from what you believe regarding those who you esteem Sons of Jupiter.” In a different writing, Justin Martyr said “He was born of a virgin, accept this in common with what you believe of Perseus.”

justin_martyrJustin Martyr was a second century Christian apologist that wrote extensively to defend Christianity from popular demonizing myths. To defend Christianity to the Emperor Antoninus Pius, Justin wrote the the First Apology in which he refuted the myth that Christianity was atheistic and also argued in favor of its superiority to Pagan religions. (After Jesus: The Triumph of Christianity, Page 140)

The first quote that is cited which comes from Justin Martyr is taken from First Apology 21, though I use a different translation than Zeitgeist,

In saying that the Word, who is the first offspring of God, was born for us without sexual union, as Jesus Christ our Teacher, and that he was crucified and died and after rising again ascended into heaven we introduce nothing new beyond [what you say of] those whom you call sons of Zeus.

Justin later lists the sons of Zeus as Hermes, Asclepius (or Asclepios) and Dionysus — There are several problems with his examples, the most prominent one being that none of them were were born without sexual union. 

According to Greek Mythology, the mother of Hermes, Maia “went up into his [Zeus’] holy bed” and afterwards she bore her son.  — As for the second example, the mother of Asclepius, who was named Kronis, was “loved by the god Apollon” and she got pregnant with her child. Asclepius’ birth was just as sexual as yours and mine. He was also the son of Apollon, not of Zeus as seems to be indicated by Justin Martyr. — And as for Dionysis,  in my fourth post I have already disputed the false claim that he was born of a virgin. Zeus has sexual relations in secret with Semele, Dionysus’ mother and that was how he was born.

Interestingly enough, in this particular quote stops right there and ignores what Justin continues to say. He mentions how these Greco-Roman gods are said to have died,

You know how many sons of Zeus the writers whom you honor speak of—Hermes, the hermeneutic Word and teacher of all; Asclepius, who was also a healer and after being struck by lightning ascended into heaven—as did Dionysus who was torn in pieces; Heracles, who to escape his torments threw himself into the fire; the Dioscuri born of Leda and Perseus of Danae; and Bellerophon who, though of human origin, rode on the [divine] horse Pegasus.

This is actually different than what Zeitgeist would have you believe. What the film is doing is giving the impression that Justin was admitting that other Pagan gods were crucified like Jesus. He is clearly saying that they did indeed die, but he gives different details which are unlike the Passion of Jesus. — If Zeitgeist had included this in its quotation of Justin Martyr then it would have demolished its point.

Also, in Chapter 22 of First Apology, Justin makes certain similar statements comparing Jesus to the same Greek gods,

If somebody objects that he was crucified, this is in common with the sons of Zeus, as you call them, who suffered, as previously listed. Since their fatal sufferings are narrated as not similar but different, so his unique passion should not seem to be any worse—indeed I will, as I have undertaken, show, as the argument proceeds, that he was better; for he [Jesus] is shown to be better by his actions.

When one begins to read this, the first part seems to confirm Zeitgeist’s claims that Pagan deities were crucified. However when you read on Justin says that “their fatal sufferings are narrated as not similar but different.” — He goes on to call Jesus’ passion “unique.” In fact, Justin is saying through chapters 21 through 29 that Jesus is superior to the others. The reasons why Zeitgeist didn’t include this quote in the film is obvious: They would have demolished their own case.

— Also, to make matters worse for Zeitgeist’s claims, Justin says point blank (in First Apology 55) that none of these gods was crucified like Jesus.

As for the second quote that Zeitgeist gives (which is from First Apology 22) the film quotes a comparison of Jesus with Perseus,

 If we declare that he [Jesus] was born of a virgin, you should consider this something in common with Perseus.

This quote, like the other, is a favorite of the “Jesus-Myth” crowd. But unfortunately for them, this statement does not hold water when one researches Perseus. — The second century BC Greek historian Apollodorus describes the birth of Perseus (The Library 2,4,1)  as such,

However, she [Danae, Perseus’ mother] was seduced, as some say, by Proetus, whence arose the quarrel between them; but some say that Zeus had intercourse with her in the shape of a stream of gold which poured through the roof into Danae’s lap. When Acrisius afterwards learned that she had got a child Perseus, he would not believe that she had been seduced by Zeus.

The Primary Greek sources clearly say that Danae gave birth to her son, Perseus, through sexual relations. The description of sex may be odd to us, but according to the story it is still sexual. 

So basically, when Justin Martyr claims that Perseus was born of a virgin like Jesus himself as he implies is the case with other gods, he is actually exaggerating the whole thing. The primary Greek sources actually say the opposite. — So much for Jesus-Mythers that use these passages by Justin to show that he knew Christianity to be basically the same as paganism.

The film Zeitgeist continues to say,

It’s obvious that Justin and other early Christians knew how similar Christianity was to the Pagan religions. However, Justin had a solution. As far as he was concerned, the Devil did it. The Devil had the foresight to come before Christ, and create these characteristics in the Pagan world.

I think I’ve already adequately shown that Justin Martyr had exaggerated similarities between Jesus and the other religions (i.e., the virgin birth) so that point is moot.

The claim that Zeitgeist makes that Justin claimed  that the Devil pre-Copied Christianity and the New Testament is completely false. He never said that. — What he didsay was that when the the Hebrew prophets wrote down their prophesies about the Christ, the demons immitated them and got them all wrong,

When they [wicked demons] heard it predicted through the prophets that Christ was to come, and that impious men would be punished by fire, they put forward a number of so-called sons of Zeus, thinking that they could thus make men suppose that what was said about Christ was a mere tale of wonders like the stories told by the poets. [ . . . ] But, as I will make clear, though they heard the words of the prophets they did not understand them accurately, but made mistakes in imitating what was told about our Christ. (First Apology 54)

From here it can be seen that Justin Martyr never claimed that “the Devil had the foresight to come before Christ, and create these characteristics in the Pagan world.” — Rather, he is saying that the devil tried to imitate the prophesies of him but basically screwed up. In other words, he’s saying demons tried and failed to copy the Old Testament, not the devil copied Christianity before it even existed.

So, in conclusion, it appears that Zeitgeist, in using the favorite Justin Martyr references, makes the same mistake that other Jesus-Mythers make: Abusing them, taking them out of context, and leaving out relevant details that are capable of defeating their case.

It is true that Justin Martyr seems to say that the sons of Zeus were born of virgins, however a simple investigation into the mythological literature disproves him pretty handily. His statements in this case go outside the evidence. However the claim that he confirms Greco-Roman gods were crucified like Jesus  is completely false and disproved by any complete reading of his writings in their proper context.

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.

Daniel’s Four Empires — The Skeptics just don’t get it!

Recently in an earlier post I refuted the logical fallacy advanced by third-rate skeptic Farrell Till that the Biblical Book of Daniel supossed that the Medes and the Persians were two empires independent of eachother at the time of the conquest of Babylon.  Now in this post, I plan on showing that he misinterprets some of the most vital details of Daniel which show that Daniel did indeed predict the future with accuracy.

One of the areas in the book most misrepresented by skeptics and naturalists is the seventh chapter which shows apocalyptic imagery in the form of fou different beasts which represent four different empires that were to arise. They are a lion, a bear, a four-headed leopard, and a beast with ten horns.

Skeptics represent them as such:

  1. The Lion — Babylon
  2. The Bear — Media
  3. Leopard — Persia
  4. Beast with ten horns — Greece

Of course, most Christians that believe in the authenticity of Daniel do not accept most of this interpretation of the four beasts of Daniel’s vision.

First nobody, whether liberal or Conservative, dispute that the Lion is representative of the Neo-Babylonian empire so I will not go into that.

The subject is actually quite simple: All one has to do is disprove the skeptical position in at least one aspect and their entire assumption turns out to be wrong. — But first, it is important to mention that the basis of the assumptions is the hypothesis that the Book of Daniel was written during the Maccabean revolt in 165 BC because of the accurate imagery that the book gives about the time. Following this assumption as well as the idea that the future cannot be predicted skeptics came to the understanding that the ten horned beast represented the Greek empire. — My purpose is to show that this position is inconsistent with the facts of history.

Farrell Till, in his interpretation of the imagery, repeats the ten horned beast is the Greek empire by citing one Christian apologist that agrees with this position. Therefore, he believes the leopard it the Persian empire. This is consistent with the opinion of most secular scholars, but inconsistent with history. And here’s why:

After Daniel sees the fourth beast he asked for the interpretation:

He gave me [Daniel] this explanation: ‘The fourth beast is a fourth kingdom that will appear on earth. It will be different from all the other kingdoms and will devour the whole earth, trampling it down and crushing it. The ten horns are ten kings who will come from this kingdom. After them another king will arise, different from the earlier ones; he will subdue three kings.’ (Daniel 7: 23, 24 NIV)

So ten kings, it says will arise from this kingdom. But with the wording that one king will subdue three of them, there is the indication that (instead of ruling one after the other) the ten kings rule at the same time. — In other words, this kingdom gets divided into ten pieces or kingdoms.

It is true that the Greek Empire got split up soon after the Death of Alexander the Great:

In Asia the Macedonian commanders who served Alexander fought each other for power.  Perdiccas and Meleager were murdered, Antigonus rose to control most of Asia, but his growth of power brought the other Macedonian generals in coalition against him.  He was killed in battle and the Macedonian Empire split into four main kingdoms– the one of Seleucus (Asia), Ptolemy (Egypt), Lysimachus (Thrace), and Antipater’s son Cassander (Macedonia, including Greece).

(Text Link: Alexander of Macedon

So, Greece did divide, but not into ten kingdoms. — It divided into four. Now, does this mean that Daniel got wrong his historical description of the Greek empire? Or does this mean that the Skeptics are the ones that got it all wrong?

Considering other descriptions given in Daniel about the Greek empire, I doubt that Daniel would have gotten his history of Greece wrong. Daniel himself describes the Greek king (Obviously Alexander the Great) and what would happen to his kingdom,

Then a mighty king will arise, who will rule with great power and do as he pleases. After he has arisen, his empire will be broken up and parceled out toward the four winds of heaven. It will not go to his descendants, nor will it have the power he exercised, because his empire will be uprooted and given to others. (Daniel 11: 3, 4)

His empire would be broken into the four winds (i.e., into four pieces). So, Daniel knowing this, it is unlikely he would then make the huge blunder that Greece would be divided into ten.

The question now is do any of the other beasts in chapter seven better describe the Greek empire? — The answer seems to be an emphatic yes.

I looked, and there before me was another beast, one that looked like a leopard. And on its back it had four wings like those of a bird. This beast had four heads, and it was given authority to rule. (Daniel 7: 6)

The leopard that comes before the last beast is not described in as great detail as the fourth beast, but the imagery is much more consistent with the historical knowledge of the Greek empire. The four heads and the four wings fit the four kingdoms that came out of Greece.

The interesting thing here is that even though Till rejects the clarity of the Leopard, not the ten horned beast, being the Greek empire, he still accepts the number “four” as symbolic for Greece in the vision of the ram and the goat. — The goat first had one horn before it fell off and four horns replaced it which represent four kingdoms (Daniel 7: 21, 22) — Even though Till talks about the consistency of symbols in his interpretation, his acceptance of the goat with four horns as Greece, but rejection of the four headed leopard as a symbol of the same empire is a huge inconsistency.

Whats more, Till usually brings up what he considers to be a historical error made by Daniel and says something on the lines of “It would be understandable for an ignorant late second century Jew to make such an error.” — I would argue that if Daniel indeed lived in the second century BC during the Greek empire, the last details he would ever get wrong would be of the current empire of his day. And yet, Till doesn’t seem to see that.

Since we know that the lion unquestioningly represents the Neo-Babylonian empire, what does this indicate for the second beast, the bear?

And there before me was a second beast, which looked like a bear. It was raised up on one of its sides, and it had three ribs in its mouth between its teeth. It was told, ‘Get up and eat your fill of flesh!’ (Daniel 7: 5)

Most skeptics, and Till, believe that the bear is a symbol for the Median empire and that therefore the Leopard is Persia. However, I have just shown that the Leopard is more consistent with Greece, so this could mean just one thing: The bear, despite all of Farrell Till’s protests, has to represent a United Empire of Persia and Media (Medo-Persia).

The bear was shown to have one side raised above the other. — This is historically consistent with the Persia being held somewhat superior to Media, despite still being united allies.

So this being so, what about the fourth beast with ten horns? Most Conservative scholars believe that it represents the Roman Empire. — Of course, Till, not believing that Daniel could foretell the future, rejects this. But again, the ten horns representing ten kingdoms that come out does not reflect what Till insists on. The truth is that ten kingdoms did in fact come out of Rome:

  • Franks (Clovis)
  • Anglo-Saxons
  • Visigoths
  • Lombards
  • Vandals
  • Ostrogoths
  • Heruli
  • Suevi
  • Alemani
  • Burgundians

Daniel goes on to mention the fate of three of the horns (i.e., kingdoms),

While I was thinking about the horns, there before me was another horn, a little one, which came up among them; and three of the first horns were uprooted before it. (Daniel 7: 8 )

It so happens that three of these same kingdoms were destroyed, or uprooted. They were the Vandals, the Ostrogoths, and the Heruli. (Click here for the info)

The implication here is that not only did Daniel give accurate history in his book, but that he also accurately predicted what would happen in with the Roman empire This means that even if the Book of Daniel were written in the second century BC, he still knew the future by about 600 years beyond his time. So even though skeptics would prefer not to pay attention to the facts, it appears that God did indeed have a hand in the writing of the Book of Daniel.

The Book of Daniel — The Persian and Median Empire

I have blogged my defence of the authenticity of the book of Daniel quite a while ago and have ceased because I came to the realization that the evidence never matters to many skeptics who have made up their minds to oppose the authenticity of any biblical passage no matter what. — My blog posts that defend the Book of Daniel were responces to Farrell Till’s complaints that Daniel was written in the second century BC and is therefore not an authentic work by an official in the Babylonian court in the sixth century BC.

In the face of any evidence or any credible conjecture that can show that Daniel is not necessarily inaccurate Till looks for any excuse to use to claim that it is all irrelevant, even if a competent scholar has proposed it. — He does this even though Till is not a scholar by any stretch of the imagination and uses in many cases ignorance to argue his cases.

For example, in the possible identification of Darius the Mede as Cyrus the Persian some scholars point to Daniel 6:28 that can be translated as . . . Darius, that is, the reign of Cyrus,” or as “Darius, even. . .” which implies that the two may be one and the same. — The best argument that Till can come up with is that he couldn’t find any Bible translations to back up this “hypothesis.” Never mind that the ones proposing the translation are experts in the Biblical languages and Till, by his own admission, has never studied in any such field. The appeal to translations is a very unscholarly approach and is not to be taken seriously. (See The Identity of Darius the Mede“).

He makes similar pathetic statements to defend his preconceived idea that Daniel screwed up by calling Belshazzar the “son” of Nebuchadnezzar. Even though Till realizes the fact that “son” can mean grandson, decedent and even successor whether related by blood or not, he insists that since Daniel doesn’t mention the rulers of Babylon that came between the two that therefore he didn’t know about their existence and therefore actually meant that the two kings were literally father and son. Never mind the possibility that Daniel didn’t mention them because the were probably irrelevant to what he was writing. (See “Belshazzar the “Son” of Nebuchadnezzar)

It is because of such unreasonable and blind claims that he made to salvage his prejudice against Daniel that for the last year I have declined to write any rebuttal to his claims — But I decided that I would once again write another refutation of his criticisms.

In yet another attempt to show the Book of Daniel as historically inaccurate, in this text link here he attacks the perception that Daniel wrote of a united and single empire of “Medo-Persia.” He reasons, as most skeptics, that Daniel believed that the Medes and the Persians, at the time of the fall of Babylon in 539 BC were two independent empires.

He starts with the vision of two rams in Daniel 8 and says,

Bradford sees evidence of a “Medo-Persian” empire in Gabriel’s interpretation of this vision in which he said, “The ram that you saw having the two horns–they are the kings of Media and Persia” (v: 20). Literally, the text reads, “The ram that you saw the kings of Media and Persia” (Hendrickson’s). The verb to be [are] is not in the main clause, so this raises a question of interpretation. Did the writer mean to say, “The ram that you saw is the kings of Media and Persia,” or did he mean to say that the “horns are the kings of Media and Persia”? Obviously, Bradford wants it to mean the former, but there are better reasons to think that he meant to say that the horns were the kings of Media and Persia.

He tries to use English grammar to argue his case in a text originally written in Hebrew and Aramaic which is a very laughable tactic since English is not related to the two former languages. — The irony here is that in the case of Daniel 6:28 (in another one of his posts) he argues that even though some scholars justify the re-translation on the basis that Chronicles 5:26 being similarly structured that the two cannot be compared because one was in Hebrew and the other in Aramaic — Of course, the fact that the two Semitic languages are related and that related languages can , in many cases, be used to facilitate the learning of another related language. For example, knowing Spanish can facilitate the learning of Italian since the two are related and grammatically similar. In the same way, Hebrew and Aramaic are related. English, being Germanic and not Semetic, cannot be used to criticize Semetic grammar.

But what about Till’s evidence that Daniel meant to present Media and Persia as two seperate empires? — He continues,

First of all, we have to wonder why the writer didn’t say that the ram was the kings of Medo-Persia if he meant for the ram itself to symbolize a combined Medo-Persian empire. Why did he clearly distinguish between the Medes and the Persians as he consistently did throughout the book? In his interpretation of the handwriting on the wall, Daniel told Belshazzar that his kingdom was divided and given to the Medes and the Persians (5:28), so he had previously spoken of Media and Persia as separate kingdoms. If the writer knew that there was at that time a combined “Medo-Persian” empire, this would have been an excellent opportunity for him to say that the kingdom was being given to the Medo- Persians, but he didn’t say that. He said that the kingdom would be divided and given to the Medes and the Persians. In other words, Daniel’s interpretation of the writing was that part of Babylonia would be given to the Medes, and part of it would be given to the Persians, and so the interpretation indicated that the writer thought that Media and Persia were separate kingdoms that would divide the territory of Babylonia between them. Bradford has yet to show us in what sense Daniel meant that the Babylonian kingdom would be divided if he thought that the whole kingdom was going to be absorbed by a combined “Medo-Persian” empire.

Hold it! His argument is this? That Daniel didn’t use the term “Medo-Persia” to indicate that the Medes and Persians were united as one empire? I would think it would be obvious why Daniel didn’t use such a term: It is a modern linguistic peculiarity which would not have existed 2,400 years ago. It is like saying “Greco-Roman.” Obviously the Greeks and Romans never used that term, but is obviously isn’t a false description either. Historically, Cyrus united both the Medesand the Persians, so there is nothing wrong with the term “Medo-Persia.” But Cyrus himself would not have recognized the term either.

As for more of his alleged evidence, he says,

Bradford should consider the significance of the word dividein Daniel’s interpretation of the handwriting. There is no way for Bradford to make sense of the word if he sticks to his claim that the book of Daniel was written by a 6th-century B. C. official who knew that the Babylonian empire had fallen in one swoop to a combined “Medo-Persian” kingdom, but usage of the word can easily be explained by the theory that Daniel was written well after the 6thcentury by an author who was familiar with the Jewish scriptures of the time but not so knowledgeable of Babylonian history.

Another “evidence that Farrell Till uses to show that Daniel thought that Daniel 5:28 says Babylon was “divided” and given to the Medes and Persians. — He thinks that this means half of the kingdom was given to Persia and that the other half was given to Medes. He ignores the fact that Daniel himself shows that the division was into 120 provinces and not in half like he assumes. (Daniel 6:1) — This idea of Babylon being “divided” is supported by  The Nabonidus Chronicle which says that Gobryas (Gubaru) installed sub-governors in Babylon. — This would have meant that Babylon was divided, but not in half.

Linguists have pointed out that the term for “Divided” which is “Peres” also means “Persia.” This means, of course that the Persians were the conquerors and the ones that created the subgovernments in Babylon. However, Till, as I mention in “The Identity of Darius the Mede” rejects that this could be an allusion to the Persians because of his insistence of reading the Hebrew-Aramaic with the eye of a modern English literalist.

But, is there evidence that Daniel saw Persia and Media as two components of one single empire? — The answer is “yes.”

Daniel 6: 8, 12 indicates that King Darius the Mede was subject, not only to the laws of the Medes, but also to the laws of the Persians. It would be ridiculous to believe that the King of an independent Median empire would be obligated to follow the laws of a separate empire. The only explanation is that the Medes and Persians were united in a single empire, which is historically accurate.

Till goes on to say that Daniel said the Medes (not the Persians) conquered Babylo because the ancient prophets predicted it so.  Till points out Isaiah 13: 17 predicted that the Medes would conquer Babylon and then gleefully points out that that didn’t happen. However, he overlooks Isaiah 21: 2 which says that both  Elam and the Medes would capture Babylon. — As is pointed out by one scholar,

These passages single out Media as the nation which God would stir up against Babylon, but as  noted [ . . . ] we are told that Elam also would be involved in its actual overthrow. Eastern Elam was occupied by the Persian race at this time and was Cyrus’ place of origin.

(Text link: The Medes and Persians)

Keeping this in mind, the supposed historical error actually does not exist and skeptics mention it without considering all the evidence. — Also as mentioned in another post, I believe that Cyrus the Persian and Darius the Mede are the same individual based on the alternate translation of Daniel 6:28 and other side historical evidence that Cyrus was half-Median with Astayges as his grandfather.

So in conclusion, considering the textual evidence in Daniel that indicates that Darius the Mede was subject to the laws of the Persians, there is enough evidence that the vast majority of skeptics are incorrect in assuming that Daniel believed the Medes and Persians were independent of each other because it is unreasonable for independent nations to be obligated to obey the laws of other empires. Also, Till’s argument that Daniel should have used the term “Medo-Persia” if he wanted to indicate they were a united empire is moot. No such modern day linguistic peculiarity would have existed in that time no matter how well accurately it describes the situation. Daniel cannot be blamed for not using modern-day English terminology in his book. — Also, Farrell Till’s complaint that Daniel erred by denying the Persians were the conquerors of Babylon is also know to be basless when the relevant evidence is examined.