Book Review- Deceptions and Myths of the Bible

book review
Google Images

I was looking through the bargin section of my favorite bookstore several years ago and came across a copy of Lloyd M. Graham’s Deceptions and Myths of the Bible. The book was only a few dollars, so I bought it on a lark because it sounded interesting. However, ended up neglected on the bookshelf until I finished reading it this week.

The book jacket states this of the author: “Lloyd M. Graham is a psuedonym. Because of his controversial writings, he does not want his identity revealed. He is a biblical scholar and student of mythology.”

Deceptions and Myths of the Bible is supposed to be an in-depth look at the origins of the Bible, Judaism, and Christianity, yet the “biblical scholar” does not list a bibliography of his sources,which puts his credibility in doubt at the start.

Graham’s basic premise is that the power hungry priestly classes cobbled together the Bible from the mythologies of ancient cultures, including India, Babylon, Persia, Egypt, Greece, and Rome and passed off this mythological stew to the widely ignorant masses as “the word of God.” In his criticsim, Graham also incorporates New Age terminology, occult symbology, misapplies the meaning of evolution and the term “involution.” What is supposed to be serious scholarship is thinly disguised venemous and vitrolic speech aimed at the Jews, the Catholic church, and religion in general.

If you have studied any type of biblical literary criticism or read the arguments that the Bible was stolen from pagan sources, you will recognize many of Graham’s arguments. For example, he points out that the story of Jesus has parallels to Osiris, Krishna, Mithra, and others. The same goes for Noah and the flood, Moses, Adam and Eve, and so on and so forth. If this is a topic that interest you, then there are much better scholars out there to explore.

Overall I did not find Graham’s case compelling. Though he does quote some people in the book, the lack of a bibliography as I said, hinders Graham’s credibility. Why did Graham not fully list his sources? Is he trying to hide something while trying to uncover something else? I believe it is healthy to examine what we believe and why we believe it, but Deceptions and Myths of the Bible would not be the place I would start.

Advertisements

Enduring Hardships with Strength

bruce lee 2

https://motivationgrid.com/11-powerful-bruce-lee-quotes-need-know/

A common literary device rooted in human existence is the hero’s journey. The hero’s journey has been part of mythology, fairy tales, epic poems, plays, legends, even to our modern day equivalent of novels and movies. All of these stories follow an similar three act structure. Act 1-Introduce the hero. Act 2- Put the hero in the most adverse/perilous situation. Act 3- the hero overcomes the situation, gets the girl, fulfills his destiny and lives happily ever after.

If our lives were only that simple.

If you have lived for any length of time, you know that “happily ever after” is often reserved for stories and not our lives. Life is a constant struggle, an ebb and flow, the highest of highs and the lowest of the heart-breaking lows.

Just when we think we have slayed the dragon, turned Darth Vader back to the light side of the Force, found our purpose, peace, or forgiveness from God, we find ourselves facing a new or recurring difficulty. After years of struggle and sacrifice to get a hold on the family finances, a lay off, a forced retirement, or sickness occurs. You believe that you have overcome depression and anxiety, only for circumstances to throw you back down to the pit. After being diagnosed with an autoimmune disease, you do the best you can to be compliant with your care plan, only to suffer a flare-up or relapse. It feels as if all progress is lost.

We say and think such things as It isn’t supposed to be this way. This isn’t fair. I’ve already been through this. Why is God allowing this?

One of the things we must change when we go through difficulties is our perceptions, or judgments. We work under the assumption that life is fair. Do good, get rewarded. Do bad, get punished. We expect instant blessing for ourselves because we all perceive ourselves as good, while we expect the perceived evildoers to receive instant punishment.  Unfortunately, the innocent suffer and the wicked are rewarded. We live in an imperfect world that doesn’t always make sense.

Neither Jesus nor anyone else said it was going to be easy. Jesus told us that we have to “take up our cross.” That cross at times will get heavy as we walk through this life.

Numerous times throughout his epistles, the Apostle Paul compares being a follower of Christ to the life of a soldier. In his second letter to Timothy, Paul encourages him to “endure hardship as a good soldier of Christ.” (2 Timothy 2:3). A casual reading of the New Testament and its emphasis on suffering and persecution certainly deals a resounding defeat to the claims of the so-called “prosperity gospel,” where God grants all of our desires like a genie freed from a lamp, and life will be free from difficulty. Faith doesn’t free you from difficult times, it helps you get through them by creating within you a resilience, a persistence, the strength to fight no matter the circumstances.

Difficulties serve as a mirror as to our true reflection, our true strength, and whether we get tough when the tough gets going.

The Stoic philosopher Epictetus parallels the Apostle Paul’s statement to Timothy, but uses the analogy of being a wrestler.

“The true man is revealed in difficult times. So when trouble comes, think of yourself as a wrestler whom God, like a trainer, has paired with a tough young buck. For what purpose? To turn you into Olympic-class material. But this is going to take some sweat to accomplish. From my perspective, no one’s difficulties ever gave him a better test than yours, if you are prepared to make use of them the way a wrestler makes use of an opponent in peak condition.”1

In another discouse, Epictetus discusses an how to develop an acceptance of what God brings our way, a way to develop a sort of indifference to circumstances, or “going with the flow.”

“Lift up your head, like a person finally released from slavery. Dare to face God and say, ‘From now on, use me as you like. I am of one mind with you, I am your peer.’ Whatever you decide, I will not shrink from it. You may put me where you like, in any role regardless: officer or citizen, rich man or pauper, here or overseas. They are all just so many opportunities to justify your ways to man,by showing just how little circumstances amount to.”

Though it does seem counter-intuitive, the Apostle Paul, Epictetus, and Bruce Lee all concur- don’t  pray for difficult circumstances to flee, but ask God for the strength to get through the hard times. You will be a stronger and better person for it. God bless you all.

 

1Epictetus, Discourses and Selected Writings, Translated and edited by Robert Dobbin. London: Penguin Books (2008):56.

2Ibid, 116.

 

Of Snakes and Spiritual Growth

“Snakes. Why did it have to be snakes?” – Indiana Jones, Raiders of the Lost Ark  

Few creatures on earth can induce such a terror-stricken state of panic as snakes. No matter the size or species of the snake, people can be absolutely terrified of them. I have no particular fear of snakes, but I can understand people who have a fear of snakes, as many, many species are venomous and can kill with a single bite, while others constrict the breath out of their prey.  That sounds like something out of a nightmare.

Snakes have been portrayed in a negative light since time immortal. The Bible describes how the serpent mislead Eve in the Garden of Eden. In the Book of Revelation, John refers to Satan as “that old serpent” (Revelation 12:9 and 20:2).  God sent snakes to bite and kill rebellious Israelites. After the surviving Israelites repented, God instructed Moses to make a serpent statue for people to look up at and be healed (Numbers 21).

In Greek mythology, Medusa had a head full of snakes and anyone who looked at her turned to stone. Snakes have also been portrayed as hypnotizing and deceitful, such as Kaa in The Jungle Book.  Snakes have also been portrayed as wise, which gives background to Jesus’ statement of being “wise as serpents and harmless as doves.” (Matthew 10:16).

Unlike humans and other animals, snakes grow throughout their entire lives. So, it is conceivable in the right environment, a snake can grow to be in excess of twenty-to-thirty feet long. However, a snake’s skin does not grow along with its body and it becomes necessary for the snake to shed its skin (which also helps it remove parasites from its skin). If a snake does not shed its skin properly, it could die.

I know this seems like a rather odd topic, but there is a spiritual principle involved. As snakes are always growing, so should we always be growing in our spiritual lives. As we go about our lives and our relationship with God, we too develop some parasites on ourselves- sin, bad habits, false doctrine, a religious spirit, bitterness, unresolved anger, the traumatic experiences we cannot shake off- whatever it is.  Anything that is not helping us grow is hindering our development and possibly suffocating the life out of us.

From time to time, we have to shed some of our “skin” in order to grow into God has called us to be- bad relationships, forgiving others, asking for forgiveness, etc.   We may have been comfortable in our old skin, i.e. our old life, but we cannot stay there. That clothes no longer fit. Could you imagine a thirty-year-old person trying to fit into pants they wore when they were three? You are not the same person you were yesterday, last year, or twenty years ago- you have come along way and you have a long way to go. Keep growing and God bless you.

Giants in Mythology

This post is part of an ongoing series concerning the Nephilim, or giants in the Bible. For more information, you can read the previous posts, “An Introduction to the Nephilim,” “Giants in the Bible,” and “As In the Days of Noah,” which are found in the site archives.

 In previous posts, I have discussed the issue of the Nephilim, or giants in the Bible. I have also discussed the non-canonical Book of Enoch, which discusses in more detail the events of Genesis 6:1-4. This post will examine the impact of giants in mythology, more specifically Greek and Norse mythology. There are other mythologies that discuss giants, which I hope to get to soon. Before we go any further let me state that I do not ascribe any theological authority to mythology or the Book of Enoch. These books are being used to illustrate concepts in Scripture. The Bible and its accepted canon is the only book I consider to be God’s holy Word.

Greek Mythology

Even today in Western culture, there is a familiarity with the Greek myths and their pantheon of gods. The Titans were a race of giant divine beings who were overthrown by the Olympian gods. Giants are described as a constant thorn in the side of the Olympian gods. In fact, the giants are described as, “They were a force for disorder and chaos, rapists, thieves, and murders, and they could not be allowed to co-exist with the new order.”[1]

This description of the giants confirms how they are described in the Book of 1 Enoch: “The giants consumed all of the work and toil of men. And when men could no longer sustain them, the giants turned against them and devoured mankind. And they began to sin against birds, and beasts, and reptiles, and fish, and to devour one another’s flesh, and drank the blood.” (1 Enoch 7:4-5).[2]

Specific Giants in Greek Mythology

 

Cyclopes one-eyed giants.

Tityus- giant killed by Apollo and Artemis after he tried to rape their mother, Leto.

Argus- a giant with 100 eyes, “the all-seeing giant,” who was killed by Zeus.

Antaeus- a giant who was the king of Libya, killed by Hercules.

Memnon of Ethiopia- a giant killed by Achilles.

Polyphemus- a man eating Cyclopes encountered by Odysseus.

The Laestrygonians- giant cannibals encountered by Odysseus.

There are also other myths of Hercules helping Zeus and the other gods in their war against the giants. Jason and the Argonauts also helped a king defeat a group of giants.

Norse Mythology

If you are familiar with comic books or comic book movies, you should be familiar with the names of Thor, Loki, and Odin. Not only are they popular characters in modern cinema, they are also part of Norse mythology. We will take a brief look at how giants are intertwined in the stories of Thor, Loki, and Odin, then we will look at other specific giants mentioned in Norse mythology.

Thor

Geirrod- a giant who attempted to kill Thor.

Hymir- a giant killed by Thor.

Jarnsaxa- a giantess and mistress of Thor.

Magni- son of Thor and Jarnsaxa.

Loki

Loki, who is known as a trickster and the father of lies in Norse mythology, is the offspring of his giant father, Farbauti, and his giantess mother, Laufey.

Angrboda- giantess and mistress of Loki. Loki and Angrboda had three children, sons Fenrir, the wolf, and Jarmungand, the greatest of serpents. Hel, a daughter with decaying skin.

Thakk- a giantess, who was Loki in disguise.

Odin

Odin is the father of Thor, Odin is also a partial offspring of the giants, as his mother, Bestla, was a giantess. Odin also had a giantess mistress, who name was Grid.

Jotunheim

In Norse mythology, Jotunheim is the realm of the giants.

More Giants in Norse Mythology

The Frost Giants

The Frost giants include Thrym, the king of the Frost Giants; Augelmir, a giant; Gerd, a giantess, and Gymir, a giant.

Other Giants

Other giants and giantesses mentioned in Norse Mythology are Baugi, Bergelmir, Fjolsvid, Hraesvelg, Hrungnir, Hyndla, Hyrrokin, Logi, Mist Calf, Muspell, Skrymir, Surt, Suttung, Thiazi, Utgard-Loki, Vafthrudnir, Ymir, and Eggther, the watchman of the giants.

Ragnarok

In Norse mythology, Ragnarok would be the equivalent to the Battle of Armageddon or any apocalyptic final battle. Ragnarok is the final battle between the Norse gods, including Thor and Odin, and the Giants. In the Battle, Thor, Odin, and Loki are killed, the world is set on fire by the giant Surt. The world is later reborn and made new after the final battle.

Although tales of giants are relegated to the area of myth and legend, how is it that ancient cultures, separated by vast distances and time, with no form of mass communication, all share similar stories of giants and even “sky people” coming to earth? Could these myths and legends simply be retellings of the fallen angels who came to earth and lusted after the daughters of men and produced a race of giants as described in Genesis 6:1-4? Could all of these stories be the results of when God confused the languages and scattered the people after the Tower of Babel? I believe the Bible is the inerrant, infallible, and inspired Word of God. There are supernatural events described in the Bible that Christians accept without hesitation- the virgin birth of Christ, dead people being raised to life, a talking donkey, a floating ax head, and a ninety year-old women giving birth to name a few. I encourage you to do your own research into these matters and to study the Word of God. There are many good teachers out there concerning the subject of the Nephilim, please check them out for yourself.

[1] Robin Waterfield and Kathryn Waterfield, The Greek Myths: Stories of the Greek Gods and Heroes Wildly Retold, 28. New York: Metro Books.

[2] Joseph B. Lumpkin, The Books of Enoch: The Complete Volume Containing: 1 Enoch (The Ethiopic Book of Enoch) 2 Enoch (The Slavic Secrets of Enoch) 3 Enoch (The Hebrew Book of Enoch), 29. Blountsville, AL: Fifth Estates Publishers, 2010.