Saturday, August 14, 2004

ANCIENT POLYTHEISM is alive and well and living online, and sometimes in earthly temples too. Beliefnet has an interesting article, "Our Gods and Goddesses Are Closer to Us," which deals with "reconstructionist" Neopagans who try to recreate specific ancient polytheistic religions, although sometimes with adaptations to modern sensibilities. Excerpts:
It isn't just the Greek gods that are enjoying revived interest. There are Egyptian, Norse, Roman, Celtic and Druidic reconstructionists as well, with small groups of six to thirty people meeting in places as varied as Texas, California, Florida and Illinois.


Offline reconstructionist groups are rare, though their numbers appear to be growing. Berman's group, called Hellenion, made the leap from cyberspace to temple space in 2001 when they founded as a religious non-profit and began holding monthly worship services. By the end of that year they numbered three "demoi," or congregations, though the largest was Berman's with seven members. There are now nine Hellenion groups in places as far away from Athens, Greece as Jackson, Miss., Lancaster, Penn, northeastern Ohio and Dallas, Tex.

Like most reconstructionists, Hellenion's members want to reproduce the ancient rituals as closely as possible. But this is a problem when it comes to animal sacrifice, which the Greeks performed routinely. At the ancient Olympics, 100 bulls were sacrificed to Zeus. But at July's Bouphonia, Hellenion members decorated a hollowed-out loaf of bread with two small brown cones inserted in one end to represent horns. The crusty loaf had been hollowed out and filled with barley to represent blood.

During the ceremony, Tim Anderson, a 19-year-old college student studying for the Hellenion clergy, lifted the bread over his head and pierced it with a knife. The barley fell into a bowl that he then raised over his head and presented to the gods as an offering and left on the altar as sacred to Demeter and Persephone. He then handed the gutted bread to Kyrene Ariadne and asked if she would "scry for divinations."

"For obvious reasons, we don't want to sacrifice a bull," Berman said later. "We have lots of arguments in our community about the purity of ritual, but this is one thing that people generally agree on�that doing animal sacrifice is outdated and has lost any original meaning it once had."

Berger, the religion sociologist, says this is where the reconstructionists, so dedicated to the past, are actually doing something quite original. While most say they are dedicated to the past, they are, like most neo-pagans, innovative and creative when it comes to the actual practice.

"It is more or less like post-modern architecture," said Berger, who once attended a reconstructionist ceremony in which a pineapple was sacrificed. "They are taking bits and pieces of things from different places and making something that is really contemporary."

Peering into the gutted "bull," Berman reported to the group that she saw the Greek letter lambda, and books on the temple room's shelves revealed it meant a sinister thing or event may be a blessing in disguise. Berman sees this as a positive sign. She expects interest in Hellenic reconstructionism to rise after the Olympics, as it did after this year's television broadcast of "The Odyssey" and the release of the movie "Troy," when the number of hits to Hellenion's website spiked.

That's fine with Berman, who hopes others will find their way to the Greek gods.

"Doing group worship is so much different than doing it alone," she said. "I feel like I am in touch with something. I feel like I am not the only one."
A NEW TYNDALE TECH E-MAIL from David Instone-Brewer has been posted on his website. It is on "Book Buying, Selling, and Reviews on the Web".

Friday, August 13, 2004


Gabriele Boccaccini, Professor of Second Temple Judaism and Early Rabbinic Literature at the University of Michigan, will be lecturing on:

Forgotten Texts and Lost Prophets: Enoch, the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Essenes

The lecture will be in Parliament Hall, South Street, St Andrews, at 7:30-8:30 pm on Tuesday, 17 August.

Professor Boccaccini is an internationally renowned expert on the Dead Sea Scrolls, ancient Judaism, and extracanonical traditions about biblical figures, especially Enoch. He is the author of Beyond the Essene Hypothesis: The Partings of the Ways between Qumran and Enochic Judaism and other scholarly monographs. He also hosted the wonderful Enoch Seminar in Venice last year.

No admission charge. All are welcome! Sponsored by the Divinity School of the University of St Andrews. If you will be in the vicinity of St Andrews on Tuesday, please do come.
TEMPLE MOUNT WATCH: According to Cybercast News Service, Jordan has taken over control of the WAQF from the Palestinian Authority:
Jordan In Control of Temple Mount Religious Authority Instead of PA, Report Says
By Julie Stahl Jerusalem Bureau Chief
August 12, 2004

Jerusalem ( - For the first time in years, Jordan is in control of the administration of the Islamic religious authority on Jerusalem's Temple Mount instead of the Palestinian Authority, signaling a weakening of the PLO and a shift in Jordan's role in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, a new report says.


But according to The Expulsion of the Palestinian Authority from Jerusalem and the Temple Mount, a publication of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, Jordan is back in control of the Wakf, due to a persistent Israeli policy of pushing the PA out of the city.

"Israel has ended the Palestinian Authority's penetration of eastern Jerusalem and its control of the Muslim Wakf on the Temple Mount, restoring Jordanian religious administration of the Haram al-Sharif mosque compound," wrote Dan Diker in the paper, citing Israeli media as well as Israeli, Palestinian and Jordanian security and diplomatic sources.

"The expulsion of the Palestinian Authority from Jerusalem and the Temple Mount is the culmination of years of activity by Israeli security forces," Diker said.

"Despite only a partial restoration of the status quo in Jerusalem, the return of Jordan's traditionally moderating influence over the Muslim Wakf administration sends an important message to those on both sides of the Jordan River," he said.

BOOK REVIEWS: Jacob Neusner briefly reviews:

Imperialism and Jewish Society 200 B.C.E. to 640 C.E.
By Seth Schwartz
Princeton University Press
(new in paperback)
336pp., $19.95

The Rise of Western Christendom. Triumph and Diversity, A.D. 200-1000
By Peter Brown
Blackwell Publishing
625pp., $29.95

in the Jerusalem Post. Excerpt:
The flaw in historical study characteristic of both works is the absence of perspective afforded through comparison. Schwartz gives attention to Judaism, but none to the other Near Eastern religions affected by the same international politics. S. K. Eddy's The King is Dead: Studies in the Near Eastern Resistance to Hellenism, 334-31 B.C. - missing from Schwartz's bibliography - is an example of the right way to do such work.

For his part, Brown avoids comparing and contrasting because he utterly ignores Judaism - a principal party to the great historical events of late antiquity - whether with regard to the advent of the Christian Empire or the rise of Islam. His history acts out standard Christian replacement theology; Judaism just doesn't register.

ARAMAIC WATCH: On the Aramaic list Sigrid Peterson reports on the NEH Aramaic Seminar at Duke this summer. Excerpts:
Some of the highlights: learning of the abrupt discontinuity between JLA (OJA) and JPA; discussing a text of immediate concern to me with my colleagues, the other participants in the reading group, and getting many perspectives; hearing Michael Sokoloff talk--about anything to do with Aramaic; learning Aramaic from excellent grammars, so new they are not even hot off the presses; extending familiarity with the manuscript bases for Aramaic texts. Doug Gropp's statement that Aramaic study should begin with either Syriac or Jewish Literary Aramaic, as those are the two early Aramaic dialects with the greatest corpus. Then, and only then, should one go on to Biblical Aramaic, with its small corpus, or the intricate problems of Qumran Aramaic, with apparent dialectical inconsistency.


Final comment: There is a need for Aramaic scholars in the U.S., and for their continued production of materials such as editions of Targumim from manuscript sources, and Syriac editions/translations. I don't see many of the Seminar particpants fulfilling that goal; only two of us had done/would be doing editions. The more modest goal of NEH, that of enhancing teaching of Aramaic, is also a bit problematic, as there are extremely few places in the US (or North America) that do anything more than have an adjunct teach Biblical Aramaic every third or fourth year. Syriac is even worse. For any of us participants to hope for a career teaching Aramaic would probably be sheer folly. Neither Paul Flesher nor Eric Meyers, the co-directors, actually specialize in teaching Aramaic/Syriac; only Lucas Van Rompay does so, as part of his position teaching Eastern Christianity at Duke.

All too true. I've only taught Biblical Aramaic once since coming to St. Andrews nine years ago, although it was also taught once by an adjunct when I wasn't able to. I hope to be able to teach Syriac some day but haven't yet.

Thursday, August 12, 2004


(A little late, but I've been busy)

Calduch-Benages, Nuria, Joan Ferrer, and Jan Liesen
La sabidur�a del escriba [Wisdom of the Scribe]: Edici�n diplom�tica de la
versi�n sir�aca del libro de Ben Sira seg�n el C�dice Ambrosiano, con
traducci�n espa�ola e inglesa [Diplomat�c Edition of the Syriac Verson of
the Book of Ben Sira according to Codex Ambrosianus ...]

Reviewed by Gonzalo Aranda Perez

Cook, Stephen L.
The Apocalyptic Literature
Reviewed by Eibert Tigchelaar

Gr�neberg, Keith N.
Abraham, Blessing and the Nations: A Philological and Exegetical Study of Genesis 12:3 in its Narrative Context
Reviewed by David Mclain Carr

Provan, Iain, V. Philips Long, and Tremper Longman III
A Biblical History of Israel
Reviewed by David Firth

Provan, Iain, V. Philips Long, and Tremper Longman III
A Biblical History of Israel
Reviewed by Lester Grabbe

Walker-Jones, Arthur
Hebrew For Biblical Interpretation
Reviewed by Daryl Jefferies

Lieu, Judith M.
Neither Jew Nor Greek?: Constructing Early Christianity
Reviewed by Sabrina Inowlocki

Reeves, John C., eds.
Bible and Qur'an: Essays in Scriptural Intertextuality
Reviewed by John Kaltner
MORE ON VIRGINS: In the Forward Philologos has a column ("Questioning Virginity") on the recent debate about the Qur'anic "virgins" and connects it with the ancient Jewish/Christian debate over the meaning of the "young woman" ("virgin" in the Septuagint and the Gospel of Matthew) of Isaiah 7:14. It concludes:
And yet to think this really matters is, from a contemporary point of view, putting the cart before the horse. Not only needn't Jews be disturbed if the word almah in Isaiah can be interpreted legitimately as meaning "virgin," but they also should realize that such a meaning explains why Christianity came to believe in the virgin birth of Jesus in the first place. In other words, as is the case with many supposed details of Jesus' life and death in the New Testament, we are dealing here with a legend invented by Jesus' early disciples in order to portray him as the fulfillment of biblical prophecy. It was only because they interpreted almah in Isaiah as "virgin," as did the Jewish translators of the Septuagint, that they imagined such a story about him.

In the case of both the Koran and the Bible, the attempt to determine the original meaning of this or that text can involve one in fascinating inquiries. But it is only the true believers, those who accept the Koran or Bible as God's literally given word, who will argue over the theological significance of the conclusions. Religious beliefs and behavior depend not on what a sacred text meant to say, but on what it has been thought to say over the ages by its followers. New advances in scholarship will not change their opinions, Mr. Kristof's hopes notwithstanding.

I think Philologos is wrong here. Knowledge about the actual meaning almah has done a lot to erode belief in the Virgin Birth in Christian circles over the last century or so. I suspect that we would see a similar effect in Islam if "Luxenberg"'s thesis were to convince scholars in Qur'anic studies.

UPDATE (13 August): Mark Goodacre comments. If you ask me, Philologos should be reading the Biblio-bloggers.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

HUGOYE: JOURNAL OF SYRIAC STUDIES has a new issue out. Here is the table of contents:
Volume 7, Number 2 (July 2004)


Priests, Laity and the Sacrament of the Eucharist in sixth-century Syria.
Volker Menze, Princeton University

The Colloquy of Moses on Mount Sinai: Where Syriac Christianity Meets Islamic Spain and Africa between the 16th and 19th Centuries.
Karla R. Suomala, Luther College

The Pearl of Virginity: Death as the Reward of Asceticism in M��mr�� 191 of Jacob of Serug.
Robert Kitchen, Knox-Metropolitan United Church

Brief Articles

The Credentials of Mar Julius Alvares, bishop of Ceylon, Goa and India Excluding Malabar.
George A. Kiraz, Beth Mardutho: The Syriac Institute

Publications and Book Reviews

Wilhelm Baum and Dietmar W. Winkler, The Church of the East: A Concise History.
J.F. Coakley, Harvard University

Wilhelm Baum, Schirin: Christin-K�nigin-Liebesmythos. Eine sp�tantike Frauengestalt - historische Realit�t und literarische Wirkung. Einf�hrungen in das orientalische Christentum 3.
Cornelia Horn, Saint Louis University

Xavier Jacob et Angelo Guido Calonghi, Les Chr�tiens du Proche Orient apr�s deux mill�naires. Les vicissitudes des Communaut�s Chr�tiennes du Proche Orient des d�buts du Christianisme � la fin du IIme Mill�naire, Tirrenia Stampatori, Torino 2002.
Alessandro Mengozzi, Universit� degli Studi di Bergamo

Conference Reports

Christianity in Iraq Seminar, SOAS, April 3, 2004.
Erica C.D. Hunter, University of Cambridge

Syriac Antiochian Exegesis and Biblical Theology for the 3rd Millennium, Mount St. Mary's Seminary, Emmitsburg, June 25, 2004.
Jonathan Loopstra, The Catholic University of America

Summer Seminar�Aramaic in Post-Biblical Judaism and Early Christianity, Duke University, July 14-23, 2004.
Michael Penn, Mount Holyoke College, and Lucas Van Rompay, Duke University

Session on Syriac Lexicography, International Meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature, Groningen, The Netherlands, July 25-28, 2004..
Ilaria Ramelli, Catholic University of Milan

Syriac Papers at the North American Patristics Society Annual Meeting, Loyola University, Chicago, May 27-29, 2004.
Jeanne-Nicole Saint-Laurent, Brown University


Syriac Studies Workshop, Princeton University, May 4-6, 2005.

The Bible of Edessa, Leiden, August 2, 2004.


Beth Mardutho Amazon Associates

Journal of the Canadian Society of Syriac Studies

Gorgias Press

ATLAS Digital Journal Project

UPDATE (12 August): The following update was posted on the Hugoye list:
A delayed submission to the Hugoye 7:2 was omitted from the new issue anouncement earlier today. Please note that the Publications & Book Reviews section contains the book review below:

Sidney H. Griffith. Yahya ibn `Adi: The Reformation of Morals, A Parallel Arabic-English Text, Eastern Christian Texts, Volume 1.

John C. Lamoreaux, Southern Methodist University

Thomas Joseph
Technical Editor, Hugoye
New Worlds: Site reveals the Middle East's Iron Age secrets (Jerusalem Post via Archaeology Magazine News)

The Bible relates that the Philistines zealously guarded technologies for producing superior weapons so that the Israelites couldn't get their hands on them.

But it didn't last forever. A recent dig at tel Beit Shemesh has found a iron workshop dating back to the Ninth Century BCE- the earliest known in the eastern Mediterranean.

Iron was employed for many centuries in the ancient Levant, but as an exotic metal used to make small ornaments and ceremonial artifacts, according to experts involved in the dig, which was sponsored by Tel Aviv University. Most utilitarian artifacts during the 3rd to 2nd millennium BCE were made of cheaper and more malleable copper and bronze. More recent archeological research has shown that iron replaced bronze as the leading metal only around 1,000 BCE. This is due to the fact that ancient forges weren't able to reach the high melting temperature of iron (1,537 C).

Continuum unveils Caesarea interpretation (World Leisure News, UK)

Three new attractions created by UK-based Continuum Group for the Caesarea Development Corporation have opened at the world famous archaeological site, Caesarea Maritima, on the eastern shores of the Mediterranean, north of Tel Aviv in Israel.

For the past six years, Continuum�s multimedia division, Mindwave Media, has been developing the �3.75m interactive attractions to interpret the site, bringing its history to life through an AV show, a suite of talk-to interactives and a panoramic virtual interactive: from the days of King Herod through the crusades to the present day.

The AV show, Caesarea Reconstructed, is a 3D computer generated show explaining how Caesarea developed and changed over 2,000 years; covering the construction of the harbour by King Herod, church life under Byzantine rule, invasion by Arab armies in AD 648 and finally the harbour�s destruction by Sultan Baybars in 1265.


Tuesday, August 10, 2004

BART EHRMAN GOES COUNTERFACTUAL! In a Beliefnet interview (via Mark Goodacre) Ehrman speculates on how the world would be different if one of the heretical forms of early Christianity had become mainstream. Counterfactual history is catching on.
The Christianity Battles
What if Ebionite Christians, Marcion Christians, or Gnostic Christians had been more convincing?

Interview by Deborah Caldwell

The early Christian Church was a chaos of contending beliefs, according to Bart Ehrman, author of Lost Christianities: The Battles for Scripture and the Faiths We Never Knew. Ehrman says some groups of early Christians claimed there was more than one God. Some believed Jesus was human but not divine, while others said he was divine but not human. In his book, Ehrman looks at how these early forms of Christianity came to be suppressed, reformed, or forgotten. He spoke recently with Beliefnet about what Christianity might have become if a different strain had emerged victorious from first-century intellectual battles.

Your book discusses the hypothetical questions of what would have happened to Christianity, and by extension world history, if a different type of Christianity had survived. What are your best guesses about that?

It depends on which of the other sides had won. The Marcionites decided that everything Jewish had to be taken out of the New Testament and that the Jewish Bible was no longer going to considered part of the scriptures. They thought there were two different Gods--the God of the Jews and the God of Jesus. If they had won, then I guess we wouldn�t have an Old Testament anymore and there would be no connection between Judaism and Christianity. My hunch is that if that had happened, anti-Semitism wouldn�t have developed among Christians. What drove anti-Semitism was the competition between the Jewish understanding of scripture and the Christian understanding of scripture. But if there were no competition because they didn�t have the same scripture, then we may well have never had any anti-Semitism.

Do you think the Marcionite version of Christianity would have become a dominant world religion the way Christianity is now? Or do you think that Judaism would have remained equal with that version of Christianity?

It�s a good question, because Marcionite Christianity was popular for the same reasons similar beliefs are popular today. Today people will talk about how there�s a difference between the Old Testament God of wrath and the New Testament God of love. And people who make that distinction are far more drawn to the New Testament God of love. Well, that was a Marcionite distinction, because they really thought there were two different gods, and that was attractive to people. Jews throughout the ancient world, as a whole, really weren�t persecuted, but most people thought the Jews were a little bit strange as a people. And so if this religion had nothing to do with Jews and Judaism, that may have been attractive to a wider range of people.

What would Christianity have looked like if the Ebionites had won?

We would have a different New Testament to begin with. The Ebionites were opponents of the Apostle Paul. They thought he was a heretic. A lot of the New Testament had to do with the Apostle Paul and his writings. Those would have been excluded from the get-go. They would have kept what is now our Gospel of Matthew but maybe not any of the other Gospels. And it would mean that Christians would have to be Jewish, which means uncircumcised men would have to get circumcised and people would be keeping kosher food laws and would be keeping the Sabbath, worshiping on Saturday, keeping Jewish festivals. So Christianity would have been more recognizably a sect of Judaism.

What do you think would have happened if the Gnostics had been the dominant?

It�s a little hard to know with the Gnostics, because there were so many different kinds of Gnostics competing among themselves, as well as competing against the Christians who ended up winning out over the others. Gnosticism is a religion based on insider knowledge, and it�s hard to know whether that can ever become a mass religion or not, since it presupposes that you�ve got a large group of people who don�t understand, and only a few of the insiders who do understand. If Gnostics had become dominant, Christianity would have been quite different from what it is now.

Maybe more Buddhist?

That�s how a lot of people look on Gnosticism--it seems more like an Eastern religion because its practitioners are interested in acquiring insight and enlightenment rather than salvation through the death of Jesus.


UPDATE: Reader Dennis Waters e-mails:
"It�s a little hard to know with the Gnostics..."

Great line!
AN INTERNATIONAL COLLOQUIUM ON JOSEPHUS is to be held in Dublin on 5-8 September, sponsored by the Project on Ancient Cultural Achievement (PACE) at York University, which is chaired by Steve Mason. To access the information on the colloquium, click on this link or on the "Int'l Colloquium" button to the upper left on the PACE site. The site requires the current version of Flash Player. Much of the PACE site is at the "Coming Soon" stage, but it looks promising. For example, check out the image database on the Places page.
MORE ON THE GILGAMESH MOVIE at the Internet Movie Database (also via Explorator).
TEMPLE MOUNT WATCH: I missed this one, which is a sort of tourist's guide to the Temple Mount area in Ha'aretz, but David Meadows notes it in the latest Explorator:
The eternal rock for NIS 18
By Avner Avrahami

On the 9th of the Hebrew month of Av, in the year 70 C.E., the armies of Titus captured the Temple, burned it down and destroyed its walls. Among other things, the Romans damaged the western part of the external Temple Mount Wall and brought down its upper portions. The lower portions remained standing and the central-southern part of the wall that remained exposed has since then been known as "the Western Wall," which is "the remnant of our Temple."

The longer, northern section of that same external wall was buried during subsequent centuries beneath construction rubble, especially during the Muslim Mameluke period. During this period (from the middle of the 13th century for 250 years) the valley between the Temple Mount and the city to the west of it was filled with arches and domes upon which streets and houses were built. In this way the Muslim Quarter was built, with the arches and domes creating subterranean spaces beneath it. The Tunnel Wall is in fact a unification of spaces that was created from those arched supporting structures that were built adjacent to the Western Wall of the Temple Mount; it follows the route of the "Herodian Street" that was paved along that wall until the destruction of the Temple.


Monday, August 09, 2004

JOB OPENING AT ST. ANDREWS: Mark Goodacre is already on this but I suppose I should mention it too:
Teaching Fellow in New Testament Studies
School of Divinity
University of St Andrews

Salary - �18,893 - �20,010 pa pro rata

We have a temporary post starting on 13 September 2004 until 30 June 2005, or as soon as possible thereafter, to provide cover while a member of staff is on Research Leave. You should have expertise in keeping with the School's strong profile in New Testament. The School wishes to appoint a candidate whose work will duly contribute to its established reputation for excellence in both teaching and research. It is anticipated that the position may be particularly attractive to scholars who have recently completed their doctoral studies, though some experience of teaching New Testament in a university environment would be desirable.

You will be expected to teach a sub-honours module in New Testament Greek, honours modules on John's Gospel and the Historical Jesus.

Please quote ref: JB01/04

Closing Date: 16 August 2004

Application forms and further particulars are available from or from Human Resources, University of St Andrews, College Gate, North Street, St Andrews, Fife KY16 9AJ, (tel: 01334 462571, by fax 01334 462570 or by e-mail
SPEAKING OF JUNK HISTORY, the Palestinian Authority has broadcast an "educational" program that takes the P.A.'s Jewish-temple denial to (at least to my knowledge) new extremes:
PMW:PA Historians: Israel's Biblical history is Arab Muslim history (Independent Media Review Analysis)

Palestinian Media Watch Bulletin
August 8, 2004
phone: 972- 2- 625-4140 fax: 972-2- 624-2803
visit our website, click here:
for further information, contact PMW Director, Itamar Marcus
material may be quoted, citing PMW as the source
subscribe free to PMW reports, details below
PA Historians:
Israel's Biblical history is actually Arab Muslim history
by Itamar Marcus

On an educational program on PA TV, two senior Palestinian Authority [PA]
historians went to great lengths to deny ancient Jewish history and erase
the Jewish connection to the Land of Israel. At the same time they describe
an ancient Palestinian - Arab history, creating a historical connection to
the land that never existed.

Two central components of this Palestinian myth consist of turning Biblical
Israel into Muslim- Arabs, while teaching that the Palestinians are the
descendents of the Biblical Canaanites, who are also turned into Arabs.
With both the Canaanites and Israelites becoming Arabs and the religion of
ancient Israel becoming Islam, the PA takes authentic Jewish history,
documented by thousands of years of continuous literature, and crosses out
the word "Jewish" and replaced it with the word "Arab".

This creative historical revisionism is not new in the PA. Denying the
thousands of years of Jewish connection to the Land of Israel, coupled with
the invention of "Palestinian" history of thousands of years, have always
been of supreme importance to the Palestinian Authority. The PA is
struggling with the challenge of creating a Palestinian national identity
when no Palestinian national history exists. Even the term "Palestine"
historically had nothing to do with Arab identity, and most of the
population only migrated in the last century after the improved living
conditions and work opportunities brought about by the Zionist movement.

Thus, incessant denial of Israel's history and right to exist, and the
invention of a PA history have been backbones of PA indoctrination and
education for years.

In the broadcast last week on PA TV the following are some of the main
points of the"history".

1. The Hebrews of the Bible have no connection to the Jews today.
2. The Hebrews of the Bible were Arabs.
3. The Prophets of the Bible were Muslims.
4. Biblical King Solomon was a Muslim Prophet.
5. Solomon's Temple was not built by Israelites but by Arab Canaanites.
6. The Canaanites are the forefathers of the Palestinians
7. The Bible is legends based on what Jews imagined and not on history.
8. The Jews today are descendents of a 13 th Century Khazar tribe with
no history in the Land of Israel.
9. The location of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem is a Zionist invention.
10. Zionism is Racism.


Translated excerpts from the program follow. Read it all.

The story is also covered by Arutz Sheva in " PA Television Broadcasts Revisionist History," with a link to a video excerpt from the program itself (which my system won't play).
CONSPIRACY THEORIES are the subject of an article in this weeks Sunday Times (of London). It touches on both The Da Vinci Code and The Bible Code:
Focus: The conspiracy code
A secret cabal has taken control of publishers and is making a fortune from our gullibility. Roland White delves into a plot where nothing is quite what it seems

Ever wondered why Mona Lisa has been looking so damned enigmatic for the past 500 years? Well, keep it to yourself but she�s concealing a dark and sinister secret.

This unassuming young woman is actually part of a massive conspiracy that involves a secret society, the Knights Templar, a monk assassin and serial murder, plus coded messages that cast doubt on the marital status of Christ. Seriously, this could blow the lid off the entire establishment of the Catholic church.

Don�t believe it? Well, it might be bunkum, but millions are already convinced. They have been studying details of the conspiracy in this summer�s hottest beach novel, The Da Vinci Code.


When the hardback edition first appeared, one reviewer condemned the book as �utterly ridiculous�. It�s not elegantly written and was ignored by most critics. So what accounts for its astonishing popularity? The answer is that in a largely secular age, conspiracy theories are the new religion. After all, they are the perfect replacement: they absolve the believer from blame for the ills of the world while it�s hard to prove them, one way or the other, beyond doubt.

This state of affairs was predicted about 100 years ago by the writer GK Chesterton, a devout Catholic. �When people stop believing in God they don�t believe in nothing,� he said. �They�ll believe in anything.�


It does not seem to matter that the conspiracy theorists are just as unreliable as politicians who make wayward claims about, say, weapons of mass destruction. In 1997, for example, Michael Drosnin, a Wall Street Journal reporter, published a book, The Bible Code. It claimed that the scriptures contain a hidden code predicting future events. It was an instant bestseller.

EXPERTS soon showed that the �code� was no more than the sort of patterns that could be found in any large volume of words. But that code still has its adherents and it is one of a number of phenomena to be studied in a four-part series, Conspiracies, starting next month on Sky One. It will also cast an eye over the Illuminati, a secret sect founded in the 18th century that some people claim is now running the world. That theory is clearly nonsense, of course; everybody knows that the world is run by the lizard Queen, funded by a drug-running operation controlled by MI6.

If you are looking to make your own fortune from a conspiracy theory, it�s essential to have two key ingredients: a historic event or character, plus an outlandish but faintly believable alternative to the accepted wisdom.

It also touches on conspiracy theories about Princess Diana and the "Solar Temple," September 11th, the fate of Osama Bin Laden (curiously failing to mention the - to my mind plausible - theory that he died at Tora Bora), and the sinking of the Titanic.

Requires registration, and there's a charge for it outside the U.K.

Sunday, August 08, 2004

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME! The weekend weather in St. Andrews has been about like in that photograph below, but, happily, a drive down the coast yesterday uncovered some sunshine. Even an hour or two of good beach weather at Elie. I did most of my celebrating yesterday, but the birthday itself was nice too - especially the nap. And being beaten at chess by my son.

There's nothing interesting in the news at the moment and, although I have one or two things I've been meaning to post, I don't feel like bothering right now. Look for me tomorrow.