Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Thanks to ItsTheSuperFly who gave me considerable help nailing down these notes.

Point 1: I make reference to a number of biblical characters, most notably Abraham and Moses and in the video I treat these characters as if they are real historical figures. There seems every likelihood that neither man actually existed: the incredible events to which the Egyptians suffer at the hands of Moses and Yahweh is not recorded outside of the bible and it seems incredible that such things would not leave an indelible mark on Egyptian documentation.
The real point to be made here is that these characters, alongside others such as Jacob. serve a narrative purpose and that the purpose comes in two different flavours.
In the case of Jacob and Moses we have characters that are used to explain and drive forward the narrative, to provide a focal point for what were, in all likelihood, the movement of a few Canaanites in and out of Egypt.
In the case of Abraham we have a character that is used not to link a migration of people but an entire mythological history.
Think on this: the early tales of Genesis are heavily Sumerian -

i) The creation account in Genesis 1 and its parallel with the Babylonian Enûma Eliš.
Enûma Eliš
ii) Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden, with its setting close to the Euphrates and Tigris one of several similarities with the Sumerian ‘Paradise Myth’ of Enki and Ninhursag, with its parallel (Eden/Dilmun) in the Babylonian 'Epic of Gilgamesh' and the fresco in the palace of Zimri-Lim in Mari, Sumer(now in Syria).
Enki and Ninhursag
Epic of Gilgamesh
Mural at Zimri-Lim
iii) Noah, with the strong parallel with Ziusudra in the Sumarian 'Eridu Genesis', Atra-Hasis in the later Akkadian epic (a fragment of which was actually found in Ugarit) and Utnapishtim in the later Babylonian 'Epic of Gilgamesh.
Flood Myth Comparison
iv) The tower built at Babel (the Sumerian precursor to Babylon) in Sumer and likely a Sumerian Ziggurat.

- then we have the reference to Abraham coming from Ur of the Chaldees (Ur Kasdim) which is, in all likelihood, the Sumerian/Akkadian (in the time of Abraham) city of Ur (Chaldees refers to an area encompassing Sumer and much of Mesopotamia).
So really, what we have, I propose, is a group of people, the Canaanites, whose creation mythology is from another land (and referring to other deities) and Abraham becomes a vehicle (incorporated either by the Canaanites or more specifically the Israelites later on, it’s unclear when the traditions mingled) to account for the bringing across and merging of these traditions into those which are more specifically their own (a role which Moses and Joshua fulfill in a different way to account for the processes described in this video).

So the conclusion is that, for the purpose of this video, it doesn't matter if these figures are real, it is the people and/or ideas their journeys represent that are important for the cultural and physical migrations that led to the eventual adoption of a storm god.

Point 2: I am sure many of you will be wondering what we should make of the passages Thunderf00t quotes in his video. The first point to be borne in mind is that some of the passages can just as easily be interpreted in the context of storms as they can in the context of a volcano. So does this mean that i deny any 'volcanicity' whatsoever to any of these passages? No, I don't.
Allow me to explain the situation as I see it.

What we have in the account outlined in Exodus is explanatory narrative created centuries AFTER the purported events. The explanatory narrative introduces this character of Moses as a prime mechanism to drive the story forward and as part of the explanation the myth necessitates Moses conversing with Yahweh. This leads us to two very significant factors:

1) Gods are believed, at this time, to dwell at the top of mountains.

2) Some mountains are actually active volcanoes and do the kinds of scary shit that peoples around the world would (and in primitive societies still do) almost inevitably attribute to divine authority.

Given these two factors and given the general lack of geophysical tectonic understanding of the time (to put it mildly) the most obvious way of embellishing a story requiring your lead actor to visit the top of a mountain is with reference to volcanic imagery. With this in mind there are two very important points to make:
-Thunderf00t asserts that Mt Sinai is probably NOT the location that is being referred to and that Moses had visited another location - an actual active volcano.
-My assertion here is rather that there is no volcano and, in all likelihood, that there is no Moses: what we have instead is a story of a man travelling up a mountain to where gods hang out and the myth simply being embellished with what are thought to be deistic mountainous activity by a people who do not realise that only certain mountains - volcanos - produce these natural features.
The idea of worshipping a volcano would be unsophisticated even for people in this age (I suggest, and this IS just my supposition based on what I have read and learnt). Bear in mind that the kinds of ways in which gods were linked with natural phenomena was less specific than this. It is true that we have many cultures with elemental deities but these are gods who act via these phenomena and although the people may have assumed some kind of manifestation of the deity within the phenomena itself all of these ideas are far more amorphous than God being one specific volcano.
Of course a god of volcanoes or of volcanicity generally would be a much more appropriate assertion to start off with even if not correct on this occasion (as Yahweh was a storm god).

Further, what needs to be understood right from the off is that a 'volcano god' in any kind of capacity is a very different thing to simply attributing volcanic activity to a god or gods. It is this latter state of affairs that I think is appropriate to any possible biblical references - the use of volcanic activity as an indicator of deistic presence on a mountain (to hype up the story) and not the mountain itself in any way being the deity!

Point 3: This is far from the first reply Thunderf00t has had to this video but it seems to be the first to really make this case. To be fair, ItsTheSuperFly (well worth a sub btw, if you are not already) made a brief video outlining the textual case for regarding Yahweh as a storm god but this was a brief video and did not go into the depth nor historical perspective presented here (but which Todd would have been more than capable of doing, I must add).
What really surprised me is that although many Christians challenged Thunderf00t's perspective not one of them seemed either willing or able to do any more than criticise his analysis. In fact, I have lost count of the number of Christians who laud their biblical knowledge in exchanges with me and yet seem to know little or nothing of the context of the scripture they are so keen to quote.
Hence I ask: Is it not a telling point that it has taken an atheist to make this video?

I hope you all enjoy the video and please subscribe if you are not already,

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