Defending the Theistic View

Posts tagged “Greece

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.