The Day the Earth Stands Still

by Gilbert and Peck.

More people believe in UFOs than in God.  Rather, more people believe in UFOs than in the traditional understanding of God. That is why there is an urgent need for Christians to give thoughtful, kind, yet firm responses to the UFO movement.  Sadly, most Christian responses are about as robust as the star children at Roswell. Derek Gilbert and Josh Peck help remedy this situation.

While the book has the same “feel” as Gilbert’s earlier Satan’s Psy-ops, it is less exegetical and more of a commentary on current events–at least at first. The later chapters are a gold mine of resources in response to Crowley, Jack Parsons (Scientology!), and H.P. Lovecraft.   In fact, we should spend some time on Lovecraft and Crowley.

While Lovecraft was a materialist, his fiction provided the grounds for later horror thinkers.  Here is where it gets spooky. Lovecraft wrote “The Call of Cthulhu” in 1927, with much of the action taking place in New Orleans. His characters call forth Cthulhu in an orgiastic celebration.  At the exact same time, with no prior knowledge, Crowley summons a demon named “Tutulu” or “Kutulu.” He wrote this on November 1, 1907, the exact time as Lovecraft’s story (44-45).

We’ll come back to Lovecraft.

One of the authors’ theses is that Science Fiction provided a vehicle to communicate “ET” ideas to the larger culture.  

A creepy episode is when members of America’s “9 Ruling Families” channeled a space demon.  I’ll explain. Andrija Puharich was a para-psychologist with connections to US government and various foundations.  He created a think tank whose members included Aldous Huxley and Henry Wallace, FDR’s Vice-President and a 32nd degree Freemason.  On New Year’s Even in 1952 Puharich contacted a Hindu channeler, Dr D. G. Vinod, who conducted a seance and made contact with an entity calling itself “The Nine” (82).

Nine months later another seance was conducted, this time including members from key American families: Marcella DuPont, Alice Bouverie (an Astor), Arthur Young (son-in-law of the Forbes family).

It gets weirder. Vinod had brought a statue of a monkey god named Hanoumn.

I only mention this because the elite of American life believe this stuff, believe they have contacted entities (probably what St Paul called archons).

The authors spend a lot of time on John Podesta’s wikileaks.  While Podesta is one of the creepiest humans on the planet, I don’t think there is a smoking gun regarding ETs.  He did push for ET disclosure under Obama, but as he was moving into the Clinton orbit that wasn’t important for him.  There are a lot of emails to Podesta on disclosure, but very few from him.  

The man is slick.  Think about it. We know the sumbitch is guilty on Pizzagate, yet he never faced judgment. Let’s be blunt: we aren’t going to get him on aliens.

Exoplanet Waterworlds and Chaotic Sea Monsters

Enuma Elish story. Tiamat’s son Enki kills Apsu (fresh water). Tiamat summons forces of chaos.

Baal Cycle.

Both Ps. 74 and Genesis 1 are creation psalms.  The former specifically echoes (and subverts) the Ugaritic Baal Cycle.  In all of these texts–Enuma Elish, Psalm 74, Baal Cycle–there is the question of who defeats the tehom (chaos; in Akkadian it would have been Temtum.  In Sumerian it would have been Tiamat).

The victory of creation is connected with the quelling of the waters.  This is relevant today since occultists follow the doctrine of “order out of chaos,” but not Yahweh’s order.

Leviathan and Behemoth in the End Time

* The Sea is no more.

* Leviathan is Sea-Chaos; Behemoth is Land-Chaos.

Are Evangelicals and Extraterrestrials Compatible?

Much of this chapter is a synthesis of Heiser’s writings on the Nephilim. The authors are flexible, though.  They lean towards the idea that the different ET “races” are likely demonic and/or fallen angels.

Image of God

Whatever imago dei means, it must include, per Genesis 1, the following (184-185):

  1. Both men and women are included.
  2. Divine image bearing is what makes humankind distinct from animals.
  3. It makes us “like God” in some way..
  4. There is nothing “potential” about it.  You either have it or you don’t.

If aliens are demons, couldn’t one argue that at least some aliens are angels?  Peck and Gilbert give a very interesting response to this. When mal’akim appear to man in Scripture, they always appear in humanoid form.  This rules out alien “races” such as Nordics, reptilians, and greys. While Nordics appear human, they never do what angels do. Angels don’t do probes and abductions!

(When Ezekiel sees the cherubim they are in the typical cherubic form: partly beast, four faces, etc.  This gives evidence that Cherubim aren’t really angels in the sense that we use the term).

Uncomfortable implications of the Ancient Aliens hypothesis (190-195).

* The gods were tasked with hard work, so they created humans to do it.

* humans aren’t image-bearers of these gods (which is probably a good thing).

* No evidence that there is anything beyond matter.

* According to the myths, the gods behave the same way as humans.

* The Anunnaki made some bloodlines superior.  Think of the racial implications.

* These aliens are creator-masters, not brothers.

* Unlike the bible, no one is destined to be kings.

Conclusion

Criticisms:  There were some editing problems.  The usual typos. In one appendix the author (Peck, I think) referenced Psalm 8 when he mentioned Proverbs 8.

Last Clash of the Titans

Gilbert, Derek P. The Last Clash of the Titans. Defender Publishing, 2018.

Derek Gilbert’s unique skill is in summarizing the very difficulty academic scholarship and placing it in a template that a) makes sense for the reader and b) puts the reader on an eschatological “high alert.”

Study notes here: https://www.derekpgilbert.com/2018/08/18/last-clash-of-the-titans/

Idols were lifeless.  That’s the point.  They functioned, rather, as an antenna. 

Chapter 1: Background

Gilbert quickly goes over the Nephilim thesis, including the faulty reading of Genesis 6.  If this merely refers to the line of Seth, and not to semi-divine beings, then why: a) did they produce giants and b) why were all the Sethite boys good and the Cainite girls bad? c) how did good boys and bad girls produce giants? (Gilbert  loc. 144).

Further, as Gilbert notes, the two surviving sons are mentioned “nowhere in Genesis 6, so reading Seth and Cain into an interpretation” is eisegesis. Appealing to Jesus’s passage in Matt. 22:30 only dodges the hard question.  Jesus was talking about procreation, and he said they only couldn’t do it in heaven. When angels, for lack of a better word, get to earth they can do human things.

Chapter 2: Gods of the Amorites

Mountain cosmology: “the mount of assembly of the divine rebel in Eden is the holy mountain of the Caananite storm god” (1206).  It is Mt. Zaphon, today’s mountain Jebel al-Aqra.

Rephaim: Lords of the Corpse

The etymology of the Rephaim is difficult to discern.  On one hand the lemma rp can simply denote healer and is sometimes used of Yahweh (cf Michael L. Brown, Israel’s Divine Healer). In terms of spiritual warfare (and the Canaanite invasion) it has a darker background.  Some Rephaim were kings, such as Og and Sihon.  Other times they are described as spirits of the dead (Job 26.5; Ps. 88.10).

Isaiah 14 links the Rephaim to Baal and Gog.  It describes the shades (rapha) as rising to greet Lucifer (or he who inhabited Mt. Zaphon, more on that later).

Mt. Zaphon (tsaphon) is in what biblical writers called “the far north,” modern day Syria.  Since that marked the northern end of an invasion route, it made sense to see it as the far north.  It is in the area of Bashan and Hermon, the location to which the fallen Watchers descended and the gate to the underworld.

Chapter 4: From Mesopotamia to Greece

In Greek mythology the Titan Kronos was sent to Tartarus.  Gilbert makes clear this isn’t simply another word for Hades.  Peter knew that term and used it elsewhere (Acts 2:27, 30).  This was a specific place for the “angels who sinned” (who 1 Enoch calls the Watchers and the Mesopotamians call the apkallu; the Greeks call them the Titans).  This means, quite obviously, that fallen angels aren’t demons, since demons are anywhere but the abyss/Tartarus when we see them in the gospels.

It is Gilbert’s argument that the Rephaim “are the demigod sons of the Watchers” (67).

Gilbert points out that in Ugaritic/Amorite cosmology, it took three days for the dead Rephaim to respond to the summoning ritual (KTU 1.21.ii: 1-7).  While we don’t know much about the ontology of the netherworld, we do know that Jesus proclaimed (not preached) to spirits in prison.  Further, Peter mentions these spirits in prison in connection with Noah, referring back to Genesis 6 (and forever demolishing the Sethite thesis). 

Eschatology

Gilbert skillfully dismantles the claim that Gog = Russia.  The Hebrew rosh refers to Gog as a prince, not to Rosh as a place, which some take to be Russia.  Even though the text mentions “the uttermost parts of the north,” to an Israelite this would have been obvious by its very name: tsaphon.  It would have been Mt. Zaphon. The names Ezekiel gives are all in present-day Turkey.  Even more, the war will “bring fire on Magog’s coastlands. Russia has never been a coastal power.

Therefore, we aren’t looking at a geographical north, but a cosmic north (Gilbert 120).  This war is between Mt Zaphon and Mt Zion–it is a “supernatural war for control of the mount of assembly, the har mo’ed (122).

So who is Gog?  The location puts him/it in Turkey, seeming to make him an Islamic leader.  That might not be right, though.  The language of the war is spiritual, located in the cosmic north on the slopes of Mt. Zaphon.  Gilbert doesn’t think he is Baal, though, even though we are at the location of Baal’s mountain.  Gog is Antichrist, which means he can’t be Lucifer or Baal.

Valley of the Travelers

This is the neatest part of the book.  I think there is sufficient evidence to see the Rephaim as the spirits of dead kings, probably Nephilim.  They are currently in the underworld.  Ezekiel 39:11, having documented Yahweh’s slaughter of Gog’s forces, talks about blocking the valley of the Travellers.  This valley is “east of the Sea,” which Gilbert posits as east of the Dead Sea.

The Hebrew word for traveller is oberim, based on ‘br.  It means to “pass from one side to the other.”  What Gilbert is arguing is that it means to pass from one plane of existence to another.  Numbers 21:10-11) mentions the Israelites camping at Oboth and Iye-abarim opposite Moab. Oboth derives from ‘ob, “which refers to summoning spirits of the dead” (Tropper, J. “Spirit of the Dead.” In K. van der Toorn, B. Becking, & P. W. van der Horst (Eds.), Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible (2nd extensively rev. ed.) (Leiden; Boston; Koln; Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge: Brill; Eerdmans), p. 806).

This is the same area where Moses was buried in, “a place where the Rephaim spirits reputedly crossed over to the land of the living. Is that why Satan, lord of the dead, thought he had a right to claim the body of Moses after his death” (Gilbert132)?  This is the same area where Israel was ensnared by Baal Peor.  Peor means “open wide” (Spronk, K. “Baal of Peor.”  In K. van der Toorn, B. Becking, & P. W. van der Horst (Eds.), Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible (2nd extensively rev. ed.) (Leiden; Boston; Koln; Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge: Brill; Eerdmans), p. 147).  He is the lord of the entrance to the underworld. 

But does this actually prove the Rephaim were the Travellers in view?  According to ancient texts, probably.  Ugaritic texts specifically referred to the Rephaim as “travellers” (KTU 1.22 ii, 20-27; I, 15).  In connection with Ezekiel, these spirits are going to be at Har Mo’ed.

One of the problems with Armageddon taking place at Megiddo is that Jesus is supposed to land at the Mount of Olives, which is more than fifty miles away.

Gilbert ends by identifying Antichrist as the Chaos figure (Tiamat, Leviathan, Typhon).  Interestingly enough, Irenaeus said Antichrist would be a Titan (Adv. Haer. V.30).

This is not an academic text, but Gilbert has marshaled the best scholarship and we, the readers, are given the opportunity of evaluating the evidence.  On several new points, while not intending to be a scholarly text, Gilbert has broken fresh ground.  

The Day the Earth Stands Still (Peck and Gilbert)

images

More people believe in UFOs than in God.  Rather, more people believe in UFOs than in the traditional understanding of God. That is why there is an urgent need for Christians to give thoughtful, kind, yet firm responses to the UFO movement.  Sadly, most Christian responses are about as robust as the star children at Roswell. Derek Gilbert and Josh Peck help remedy this situation.

While the book has the same “feel” as Gilbert’s earlier Satan’s Psy-ops, it is less exegetical and more of a commentary on current events–at least at first. The later chapters are a gold mine of resources in response to Crowley, Jack Parsons (Scientology!), and H.P. Lovecraft.   In fact, we should spend some time on Lovecraft and Crowley.

While Lovecraft was a materialist, his fiction provided the grounds for later horror thinkers.  Here is where it gets spooky. Lovecraft wrote “The Call of Cthulhu” in 1927, with much of the action taking place in New Orleans. His characters call forth Cthulhu in an orgiastic celebration.  At the exact same time, with no prior knowledge, Crowley summons a demon named “Tutulu” or “Kutulu.” He wrote this on November 1, 1907, the exact time as Lovecraft’s story (44-45).

We’ll come back to Lovecraft.

A creepy episode is when members of America’s “9 Ruling Families” channeled a space demon.  I’ll explain. Andrija Puharich was a para-psychologist with connections to US government and various foundations.  He created a think tank whose members included Aldous Huxley and Henry Wallace, FDR’s Vice-President and a 32nd degree Freemason.  On New Year’s Even in 1952 Puharich contacted a Hindu channeler, Dr D. G. Vinod, who conducted a seance and made contact with an entity calling itself “The Nine” (82).

Nine months later another seance was conducted, this time including members from key American families: Marcella DuPont, Alice Bouverie (an Astor), Arthur Young (son-in-law of the Forbes family).

It gets weirder. Vinod had brought a statue of a monkey god named Hanoumn.

I only mention this because the elite of American life believe this stuff, believe they have contacted entities (probably what St Paul called archons).

The authors spend a lot of time on John Podesta’s wikileaks.  While Podesta is one of the creepiest humans on the planet, I don’t think there is a smoking gun regarding ETs.  He did push for ET disclosure under Obama, but as he was moving into the Clinton orbit that wasn’t important for him.  There are a lot of emails to Podesta on disclosure, but very few from him.  

The man is slick.  Think about it. We know the sumbitch is guilty on Pizzagate, yet he never faced judgment. Let’s be blunt: we aren’t going to get him on aliens.

Exoplanet Waterworlds and Chaotic Sea Monsters

Enuma Elish story. Tiamat’s son Enki kills Apsu (fresh water). Tiamat summons forces of chaos.

Baal Cycle.

Both Ps. 74 and Genesis 1 are creation psalms.  The former specifically echoes (and subverts) the Ugaritic Baal Cycle.  In all of these texts–Enuma Elish, Psalm 74, Baal Cycle–there is the question of who defeats the tehom (chaos; in Akkadian it would have been Temtum.  In Sumerian it would have been Tiamat).

The victory of creation is connected with the quelling of the waters.  This is relevant today since occultists follow the doctrine of “order out of chaos,” but not Yahweh’s order.

Leviathan and Behemoth in the End Time

* The Sea is no more.

* Leviathan is Sea-Chaos; Behemoth is Land-Chaos.

Are Evangelicals and Extraterrestrials Compatible?

Much of this chapter is a synthesis of Heiser’s writings on the Nephilim. The authors are flexible, though.  They lean towards the idea that the different ET “races” are likely demonic and/or fallen angels.

Image of God

Whatever imago dei means, it must include, per Genesis 1, the following (184-185):

  1. Both men and women are included.
  2. Divine image bearing is what makes humankind distinct from animals.
  3. It makes us “like God” in some way..
  4. There is nothing “potential” about it.  You either have it or you don’t. 

If aliens are demons, couldn’t one argue that at least some aliens are angels?  Peck and Gilbert give a very interesting response to this. When mal’akim appear to man in Scripture, they always appear in humanoid form.  This rules out alien “races” such as Nordics, reptilians, and greys. While Nordics appear human, they never do what angels do. Angels don’t do probes and abductions!

(When Ezekiel sees the cherubim they are in the typical cherubic form: partly beast, four faces, etc.  This gives evidence that Cherubim aren’t really angels in the sense that we use the term).

Uncomfortable implications of the Ancient Aliens hypothesis (190-195).

* The gods were tasked with hard work, so they created humans to do it.

* humans aren’t image-bearers of these gods (which is probably a good thing).

* No evidence that there is anything beyond matter.

* According to the myths, the gods behave the same way as humans. 

* The Anunnaki made some bloodlines superior.  Think of the racial implications.

* These aliens are creator-masters, not brothers.

* Unlike the bible, no one is destined to be kings.

Conclusion

Criticisms:  There were some editing problems.  The usual typos. In one appendix the author (Peck, I think) referenced Psalm 8 when he mentioned Proverbs 8.

 

Ugarit and the Old Testament

Image result for ugarit

Peter C. Craigie, Ugarit and the Old Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1983).

This is probably the best short introduction to Ugaritic culture as it relates to the Bible. It can be read in one sitting and even the parts that have Cuneiform aren’t too hard to read (and you can even decipher them, if you want to).

Craigie tells the amusing story of how the archeologist Villeroud, fearing that the locals might steal some artifacts, had the Turks and the Alawites–mortal enemies–work in the same units. He reasoned that if one side started stealing artifacts, the other would snitch on them.

Deciphering the Cuneiform

As the cuneiform tablets were different from the Mesopotamian kind, how did they “crack” the code? Craigie explains in some detail: “ He noted that the writing system was alphabetic and that words were separated by a small vertical wedge shape. Identification of the word divider was important, for it enabled him to recognize that most words were short, consisting of only three or four le!ers; the shortness of the words made it highly unlikely that the language concealed by the script was Greek or an ancient relative of Greek” (15).

Assuming the language was akin to either Hebrew or Phoenician, Virolleaud guess that the single mark on an axehead was probably a preposition, such as “to,” or the consonant “l.” He then figured that the word “king” would be prominent, and since this was a Semitic language, he would be looking for the lemma mlk. Same with Baal. Here is another way to demonstrate the method:

If the language was Semitic:

(a)Prefixes must include: ’, y, m, n, t (and possibly b, h, w, k, l).

(b)Suffixes must include: h, k, m, n, t, (and possibly w and y).

(c)Single-le”er words: l, m, (and possibly b, k, w).

Old Testament Parallels

Ugaritic and Psalm 29. While the biblical author certainly did not “copy” Ugaritic poetry, he certainly used the form as a vehicle for the divine words.

“Cooking a kid in its mother’s milk.” This isn’t just a command against animal cruelty. It’s related to Canaanite cosmogony. Craigie writes: “Canaanite (Ugaritic) text appears to describe some kind of ritual which related to fertility and sexuality; it is possible that the ritual involved sexual activity by the participants. Cooking of a kid in milk would simply be one small part of the larger ritual” (66). That could be the case, but later scholarship is far from certain.

Psalm 104. There are parallels to the “rider in the clouds.”

Of course, none of this means that the OT writers “stole” from Ugarit. Rather, these concepts would have been common currency. Of course a strong deity would ride on the clouds.

Stories from Ancient Canaan (Coogan)

Image result for stories from ancient canaan

This is the first edition, not the second edition edited by Mark Smith.

Coogan, Michael. Stories from Ancient Canaan. Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1978.

When God revealed himself to man, he revealed himself using words and concepts that his target audience would have understood. This included the influence of nearby Ugarit. Ugaritic can shed light on several biblical words, like Lotan (Leviathan). It isn’t a crocodile. It is a cosmic serpent (Coogan 106). It lives in the watery depths, the apsu. (And below the Apsu are where the Rephaim dwell).

This book also illustrates perhaps why the Israelites were so tempted by Baalism. The language was often similar and while I believe that most of Torah was written down quite early, it’s doubtful that agrarian farmers would have had bound copies of Torah in their home libraries. And without constant reading, it’s easy to get confused.

Nota Bene: Coogan suggests that Anat has been compared to the Hindu goddess Kali (Coogan 13).

Ugaritic poetry sheds light on many biblical passages, as the biblical writers would have used conceptual currency already in play. Psalm 82 says that “Elohim has taken his place in the Assembly of El/In the midst of the elohim he holds judgment.” This is Divine Council language.

Isaiah 14:13 speaks of the “stars of El.”

Aqhat and Danel

While the text doesn’t actually mention “Sheol,” it uses similar concepts. It also notes that it is a world of “slime” (33, 34). This might partially explain why no one ever looked forward to going to Sheol.

Ba’al is a “son of El,” as Anat tells Aqhat, “You will be able to match your years with Ba’al/Your months with the sons of El” (37). If the Divine Council worldview is true, this means that Ba’al is a fallen ben’ ha-elohim.

The Healers

Coogan suggests the Healers are minor deities of the Underworld. Coogan offers as evidence that the biblical term Rephaim, the demon kings of the Underworld, is also the cognate for healers (rp’um). They live below the (cosmic) waters (Job 26.5).

The Ba’al Cycle

This conflict is worth noting in some detail, as it involves a god’s war against the sea (ym; Heb. yam). And in terms of parallelism, the sea (ym) is also the same as the river (nhr). The poetry in this poem is occasionally striking. Death speaks, “One lip to the earth, one lip to the heavens/He will stretch out his tongue to the stars” (107). Of course, any similarities between Yahweh and Ba’al vanish immediately, as it notes of Ba’al (who is also Zeus–JBA), “He fell in love with a heifer in the desert pasture/a young cow in the fields of Death’s shore: he slept with her 77 times/He mounted her 88 times” (108).

Peter Enns, Inspiration and Incarnation

Image result for inspiration and incarnation

When this book exploded on the scene, I was temporarily out of the Evangelical orbit.  I didn’t find many of Enns’ proposals all that shocking.  I thought his reasoning was sloppy in a lot of places, and he routinely never challenges his own presuppositions, but this book isn’t that bad.

I think Enns’s work also suffers in one more regard. It was fashionable 70 years ago to play off the supposed parallels between Israelite culture (and its use of Leviathan) with Babylonian culture (and its use of Tiamat). The implication was that the Hebrews stole this from the Babylonians. Recent scholarship has suggested otherwise. The discovery of Ugaritic texts and its own usage of Ba’al/Leviathan suggests that the Hebrews didn’t borrow from Babylon after all. Enns completely misses this point.

I realize I am three or four years behind the times in reading this book. That’s fine. I’m more able to appreciate it now than I would have been in my apologist days. As readers will remember, this book caused a firestorm in the evangelical world, leading to Enns’ dismissal from WTS, and causing all Reformed bloggers to cry out in unison, “The Gospel is at steak!” (since when is the gospel not at steak in Reformed circles?).

I didn’t really see a problem with the book, though. Yes, I realize where Enns is out of bounds with traditional evangelical hermeneutics, and he should admit as much. Further, the implications of Enns’ project will be troubling for many varieties of Evangelical biblical scholarship, but the reality is that these problems *will* arrive in one form or another (ask any young college student who lost their faith in an OT intro class because a professor who was not spiritually sensitive presented these problems. I saw it happen by the dozen–and that’s a conservative number–at Louisiana College.) Cheap, pat answers will not work and insult the intelligence of young men and women. We need to deal with these issues and Enns is to be commended for dealing with it in a pastorally sensitive and academically sterilized environment, his colleagues’ hysterical reaction to it notwithstanding).

Enns, faithful to good Christology, suggests an incarnational parallel between the Person of Christ and the “bible.” As Christ has a human dimension (at this point I don’t care what connotation you give to that phrase), so also the Bible has a human dimension to it. Most conservatives are fine with this and a few smart ones will say, “yeah, didn’t Calvin say that God lisps to us?” And that’s true, though it’s doubtful Calvin would have approved of Enns’ suggestions.

Contrary to popular fear, most of Enns’ book is unremarkable. If the reader is familiar with John Frame’s works, then Enns’ interpretation of Proverbs and Torah in a situational perspective will sound old-hat. Enns also spends much time noting the differences between Kings and Chronicles, of which I assume many Evangelicals are familiar. Enns asks an important question, though: How do we continue to affirm “inspiration” and “revelation” given these differences represent different goals? Personally, I don’t have a problem with that question.

The real rub, though, is Enns’ treatment of Genesis 1-11. In short, his argument goes: it is indisputable that the Ancient Near Eastern (ANE) mythologies were written prior to Genesis.i Secondly, since Abraham came from Ur of the Chaldees and would no doubt have bee familiar with these stories, and given that these stories are very similar to Genesis 1-11, one is hard-pressed to avoid the conclusion that Genesis 1-11 is somewhat dependent on the ANE mythologies.

(Help arrives from an unexpected place.  John Walton suggested that it is almost impossible to prove that the Hebrews borrowed from the Babylonians in such a crass manner.  Maybe they did, but it’s hard to prove one way or another).

This leads to the next problem: what do we mean by “myth?” Enns defines myth as a pre-scientific form of answering the question of origins in the form of stories (50).ii So one could advance the next conclusion that Abraham did adapt these mythological categories but at the same time radically deconstructed them. This makes Abraham’s faith all the more radical: his God is not like the pagan deities, and this is how his God wants you to live.

I have my own take on myth and it is a lot cooler.  These “myths” are actually retellings of Yahweh’s story told by fallen members of the Divine Council.  Psyops, if you will.
Enns has other chapters on the anthropomorphic uses of language about God. While it is true Yahweh doesn’t act passionately like Zeus, and if one wants to be theologically proper, the essence of God is impassible, it’s equally difficult to read the prophetic literature and Yahweh’s interaction with his people and come to a hard doctrine of divine impassibility (yes, I affirm divine impassibility, though not without qualifications). Yahweh does indeed fight like a drunken Samson. However, much literature has been written on that point and I won’t say more.

If this sounds impious, how much more Psalm 78:65, where the Divine Warrior himself is described as a mighty man overcome with wine? Yahweh fights like Samson, but far more ferociously than Samson: He fights like a drunken Samson!”
Enns’ last chapter will also cause some problems with conservative readers. While the grammatical-historical method is a respected method and is generally preferred in how to interpret texts, the fact remains that the New Testament authors routinely violated this principle. Not only did they interpret OT texts (seemingly) out of contexts, it appears they even read into the passage elements from 2nd Temple Judaism, and even most strikingly, changed the text of some passages to make a point “fit.” Consider the following examples:

Matthew 2:15/Hosea 11:1

Hosea is not talking about the boy Jesus, nor even about a future Messiah, but is alluding to Israel’s past (133).

2 Corinthians 6:2/Isaiah 49:8

Isaiah is speaking of Israel’s deliverance from Babylon, which Paul interprets to mean the deliverance in Christ (135; for those schooled in the Redemptive Historical model, this isn’t so wild an interpretation; still, it’s not what Isaiah’s contemporaries, to whom it first meant something—remember what you learned in reading Fee and Kaiser?–which must also be determinative for us.

Romans 11:26-27/Isaiah 59:20

Paul says the deliver will come from Zion, but Isaiah says the deliver will come to Zion. Secondly, Paul applies to Christ what Isaiah applied to God (yes, that is a wonderful truth in which I rejoice, but one must also point out the diversity in the passage). Isaiah talks about those who will be delivered, but Paul talks about the Messiah’s point of origin (139).

Hebrews 3:7-11/Psalm 95:9-10

The writer of Hebrews adds a word, dio (therefore, for the sake of). On first glance it doesn’t seem to change much, but Enns makes the argument, “Whereas Psalm 95 equates forty years with the period of God’s wrath, Hebrews, by inserting dio, equates the forty years with the duration of God’s works…The forty year period is not defined by wrath, but by God’s activity. Anger is what follows this forty year period if his readers do not rid themselves of “a sinful, unbelieving heart”” (Enns, 140-141).

Now, if one simply wanted to make the above argument as a pastoral illustration and application of Psalm 95, nobody would bat an eye. But this is Holy Scripture, of which every word is inerrant.iii

Enns’ point in all of this is that the New Testament writers inherited a hermeneutical framework from 2 Temple Judaism, with much input from Wisdom of Solomon.iv They did not think they were playing fast and loose with Scripture, and presumably neither did their hearers. The unbelieving Jews might not have agreed with St Matthew’s conclusion with Hosea 11, but they (presumably) didn’t challenge his method.

Conclusion

I enjoyed the book and the sections on the law, the history, and proverbs were fantastic. While I have no qualms praising the book, I understand why it started a controversy. If Enns’ is correct on many of his points, Evangelicals. Some good answers will have to be given on how the Bible can be revealed and inspired, yet Genesis 1-11 appears dependent on Babylonian and Sumerian myths.

Bashan (Dictionary Demons Deities)

hermon

(G. Del Olmo Lette).  “For the Caananites of Ugarit, the Bashan region, or a part of it, clearly represented ‘Hell’, the celestial and infernal abode of their deified dead kings” (162).  Further, Bashan is the land of the Rephaim (Dt. 3.13). The author gives a good analysis of the contrast between Bashan and Mt Zion in Psalm 68, a contrast that is often lost in modern translations.

In Psalm 68.15 Bashan is the har elohim, which is usually translated as the mountain of God.  But that’s incoherent in the text. It is being contrasted with Zion, so it would then read,

“Why do you look with hatred, O mountain of God, at the mountain of God?”

But if elohim is taken as a plural, then it makes perfect sense:

“Why do you look with hatred, O mountain of gods, at the mountain of God?”  That’s an actual contrast.“

Basics of Ancient Ugaritic

 

Williams, Michael.  Basics of Ancient Ugaritic.  Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Academic, 2012.

While this presentation has severe limitations, in many ways those limitations aid the intermediate reader in Hebrew studies.  As is commonly pointed out, the vocabulary between Hebrew and Ugaritic is almost identical in places. This aids the Hebrew student. Further, Ugaritic concepts (or perhaps concepts common to both Ugaritic and Hebrew) shed light on sometimes ambiguous Hebrew passages.

If you study this book, you won’t be able to read cuneiform.  That’s not really a drawback, since never in your life will you be in a situation where you will need to do that.  Therefore, Michael Williams simply transliterates the cuneiform. That is valuable for the Hebrew student since he can see parallels between the two languages and cultures.

As lagniappe, I will summarize Williams’ chapter on the conceptual world of ancient Ugarit.

The Ugaritic World

Deities:

  • El, father of the gods and head of pantheon.
    • Ba’al, Anat, and Mot are his children.
    • Aged deity who does not actively rule. In Ezekiel 28:2 the King of Tyre says, “I am El, king of the gods.”
    • He lives on a cosmic mountain
  • Ba’al
    • His name means lord.
    • Defeats the sea god, Yamm, and the dragon Lotan.
    • Associated with the weathe.
    • He lives on Mt Zaphon
  • Anat, sister and consort of Ba’al.
  • Athirat/Asherah.
    • The great goddess, consort of El.
    • Worshipped in Tyre and Sidon primarily, perhaps explains Jezebel’s actions (1 Kgs 16:31-32, passim)
    • Associated with a cultic pole or phallic symbol (Deut. 16:21; 7:5).
  • Yamm, the Sea
    • Son of El, enemy of Ba’al
    • Sometimes associated with Lotan (Heb. liwyatan) or Tunnan (tannin).
    • Bible mentions a cosmological battle with the Sea (Ps. 74:13. 89:9-10).
  • Mot.
    • God of Death. Enemy of Ba’al.

Literary Figures

Who is Dan’el? See Ezek. 14:14, 20, and 28:3.

Lotan = Leviathan

Rephaim: these are the inhabitants of the underworld (Williams 21ff). They are rapa’uma.  The key passage is Isaiah 14:9, “The realm of the dead is all astir to meet you at your coming; it rouses the repa’im to greet you, all those who were leaders in the world; it makes them rise from their thrones–all those who were kings over nations.”

But they aren’t just demon kings of the underworld.  There was perhaps a parallel race above. King Og was the last of the Rephaites” (Deut. 3:11).