OtherGround Forums The Invention of God by Thomas Romer

19 days ago
4/23/02
Posts: 94724
okiebug -
Pretjah -

over the years i think i've been clear that i'm a pretty evangelic reformed theologian.  (i'll add a non calvinistic one)

How can you be non calvinist and reformed?  I'm not being critical,  I'm genuinely curious. 

Because I dont conflate reformed theology to be the same thing as calvinism.  And Neither do all non calvinist/non orthodox Christian's.   Just because calvin was one of the major reformers doesnt mean it was the only belief amongst them or correct.

 

And in a personal level it's pretty clear that strict calvinism is very poor exegesis and what I jokingly like to call swiss cheese theology since it has so many holes in it.

 

 

Also I'll admit I personally have some opinions on theology that are vastly different from traditional reformed theology. (I say it that way as I belief is very important to understand the differenc . Between DOGMA, DOCTRINE AND OPINION)  for example I have one foot in the annihilationism(non universalist) camp, not fully bought in but lean that way.

18 days ago
8/18/06
Posts: 4851
EazyG -
okiebug -
EazyG -
okiebug -

I don't have time to refute everything.   This is just old hacky revisionist history redressed. 

 

I often wonder how people with no background in ancient history or theology can read one book or watch one zeitgeist video and suddenly believe it hook line and sinker then use it to say religious people are uneducated about their own beliefs and just gullible. 

 

Most of the experts on ancient languages, texts and religious practices and cultures are either Christian or Jewish.   You may have discovered 10 interesting things that you've discovered but your book won't sell because it's a proven orthodox view of history or religion.  You have to have a shocking new take, like click bait and shape it into some narrative that and uneducated 20 something can then go hold court at his family's Thanksgiving dinner and smugly show how smart he is by regurgitating the same revisionist crap.

You have strong views - excellent!  Lets have a discussion and presentation of differing views.

Would you care to demonstrate what about Romer's book is "...old hacky revisionist history redressed..."?

Why not pick a few key areas that you think Romer is wrong and make a careful evidence based case why. 

Then folks here can see which vews are more evidence based.........

 

Some of the leading critical scholars are also people of faith.  

Are you familiar with Mark Smith at Princeton Theological who is a committed Catholic? Or James Kugel who is emeritus at Harvard and also Orthodox Jewish?

 

Yep.  What was posted has nothing to do with faith.  It's concerns the early development of Judaism.   The fact that you would point to both of them shows you lean towards that school of thought.   I would discuss early Mesopotamian religions and thier influences on early Judaism and later hellenic influences with anyone whose put alot of study into it, but 30 minutes of internet musings doesn't suddenly catch you up.  

 

On your original note, to teach and be tenured at Harvard or Princeton divinity schools isn't necessarily a sign of intellect these days.  That said I do love some guys who taught there.

I think i would generally agree with you.  Early Judaism - perhaps better referred to as the religion(s) of ancient Israel - is complicated with very incomplete evidence.

Romer does tend to connect dots as you note.  But does present a variety of Biblical and archeological evidence which is interesting regardless if you agree with his conclusions.

 

 

Which scholars/books do you like?  Thoughts on David Carr?

Mark Smith studies the impact of mesopotamian religions on ancient Israeli religion.  I believe he is one of the leading scholars on Ugaritic and the Baal cycle.  Are you critical of his work?  

I also think a number of the scholars are not religious -or at least do not have a strong religious bias in their work.  Finkelstein, Dever, Helperin, Friedman.

kugel would likely be troubled by this discussion but seems intellectually hones enough to admit his bias

Started my reply then the app crapped out on my.  I'll try on my phone. 

 

If you're going to try to understand the old testament formation,  what little I know of Carr he would be on the right track. It's almost an impossible pursuit.   We cannot disassociate our post enlightenment indoctrination and view culture without multiple lenses that will distort that ancient reality. I'm not criticizing those who try,  I just wouldn't trust anybody on the results. 

 

I would disagree about non religious commentators being more objective.   Although it would in some ways make sense I haven't seen it to be the case.  Mostly they seem to be more resolute,  even when proven wrong, where I've seen very convicted religious scholars have to bend and mold based on a dogmatic conviction of the pursuit of truth.  Non religious writers almost always lean towards a scepticism that eliminates almost every possibility other than someone invented a story to gain something or someone was ignorant and crazy.  If you wade into the formation of religious thought with a presupposition that there is no such thing as a supernatural or spiritual experience than you again have a distorted sense.

 

These were not a bunch superstitious nomadic sheep herders.   There are layers of complexity we simply can't wrap our heads around. 

 

 

 

 

18 days ago
8/18/06
Posts: 4852
Pretjah -
okiebug -
Pretjah -

over the years i think i've been clear that i'm a pretty evangelic reformed theologian.  (i'll add a non calvinistic one)

How can you be non calvinist and reformed?  I'm not being critical,  I'm genuinely curious. 

Because I dont conflate reformed theology to be the same thing as calvinism.  And Neither do all non calvinist/non orthodox Christian's.   Just because calvin was one of the major reformers doesnt mean it was the only belief amongst them or correct.

 

And in a personal level it's pretty clear that strict calvinism is very poor exegesis and what I jokingly like to call swiss cheese theology since it has so many holes in it.

 

 

Also I'll admit I personally have some opinions on theology that are vastly different from traditional reformed theology. (I say it that way as I belief is very important to understand the differenc . Between DOGMA, DOCTRINE AND OPINION)  for example I have one foot in the annihilationism(non universalist) camp, not fully bought in but lean that way.

So you have re-formed your reformed theology. 

18 days ago
8/18/06
Posts: 4853

If you want something interesting  and grain of salt I'm highly critical of a lot of what he espouses,  check out Michael Hieser.  Then grain of salt that my criticism of anyone since I can't read cuniform,  ancient Greek or Hebrew. 

 

He is an incredible ancient linguist who accliamed fame debunking Jeremiah Sitchins ancient alien crap using his knowledge of ancient languages.   His views on the belief of second temple Jewish thought and the impact of the book of enoch is interesting. 

18 days ago
4/27/05
Posts: 2503

In 

17 days ago
3/28/02
Posts: 8175
okiebug -

If you want something interesting  and grain of salt I'm highly critical of a lot of what he espouses,  check out Michael Hieser.  Then grain of salt that my criticism of anyone since I can't read cuniform,  ancient Greek or Hebrew. 

 

He is an incredible ancient linguist who accliamed fame debunking Jeremiah Sitchins ancient alien crap using his knowledge of ancient languages.   His views on the belief of second temple Jewish thought and the impact of the book of enoch is interesting. 

interesting scholar.  thanks for the suggestion.

The thing I struggle with here is that his interpretations of the Hebrew scriptures are very linked with Christianity.  It feels at times that he is manufacturing more connection that the Hebrew text justifies 

17 days ago
8/18/06
Posts: 4855
EazyG -
okiebug -

If you want something interesting  and grain of salt I'm highly critical of a lot of what he espouses,  check out Michael Hieser.  Then grain of salt that my criticism of anyone since I can't read cuniform,  ancient Greek or Hebrew. 

 

He is an incredible ancient linguist who accliamed fame debunking Jeremiah Sitchins ancient alien crap using his knowledge of ancient languages.   His views on the belief of second temple Jewish thought and the impact of the book of enoch is interesting. 

interesting scholar.  thanks for the suggestion.

The thing I struggle with here is that his interpretations of the Hebrew scriptures are very linked with Christianity.  It feels at times that he is manufacturing more connection that the Hebrew text justifies 

He does mash a lot of modern evangelical thought on top of it.  I think he's trying to make it relatable but it drives me insane.   You have to try to separate his research from how he tries to apply it, but it's interesting at least. 

17 days ago
8/18/06
Posts: 4856

He is a brilliant linguist and his takedown of sitchin is so fun.

17 days ago
3/28/02
Posts: 8176
okiebug -

He is a brilliant linguist and his takedown of sitchin is so fun.

I will try to read some with that in mind

thanks

17 days ago
8/18/06
Posts: 4857

Oh and I should warn you he does some horrible dot connecting with mount hermon.  I feel responsible since I mentioned him to warn you on a few fronts to not further contribute to my own hypocrisy. 

17 days ago
3/28/02
Posts: 8177
okiebug -

If you want something interesting  and grain of salt I'm highly critical of a lot of what he espouses,  check out Michael Hieser.  Then grain of salt that my criticism of anyone since I can't read cuniform,  ancient Greek or Hebrew. 

 

He is an incredible ancient linguist who accliamed fame debunking Jeremiah Sitchins ancient alien crap using his knowledge of ancient languages.   His views on the belief of second temple Jewish thought and the impact of the book of enoch is interesting. 

Any idea why he wanted to address Sitchins?  Almost seems too silly to bother 

17 days ago
4/3/08
Posts: 8108
TheBearStare -

Mother Nature is the one true spirit. She provides love and sufficient reources for all on this bountiful planet. You humans and your super hero characters.

She also wrecks shop. There isn’t a mask that can stop her. 

17 days ago
8/18/06
Posts: 4859
EazyG -
okiebug -

If you want something interesting  and grain of salt I'm highly critical of a lot of what he espouses,  check out Michael Hieser.  Then grain of salt that my criticism of anyone since I can't read cuniform,  ancient Greek or Hebrew. 

 

He is an incredible ancient linguist who accliamed fame debunking Jeremiah Sitchins ancient alien crap using his knowledge of ancient languages.   His views on the belief of second temple Jewish thought and the impact of the book of enoch is interesting. 

Any idea why he wanted to address Sitchins?  Almost seems too silly to bother 

I guess sitchins willingly misinterpreted ancient cuniform and Hebrew to sensationalize and sell books got some people irritated.  They enlisted him to get real translations.  My take is that he was then kind of put in the situation to defend himself.  The ancient aliens folks can be as dogmatic as any other religion.  I don't think initially he knew what he was getting into.

 

 

17 days ago
3/28/02
Posts: 8178
okiebug -
EazyG -
okiebug -

If you want something interesting  and grain of salt I'm highly critical of a lot of what he espouses,  check out Michael Hieser.  Then grain of salt that my criticism of anyone since I can't read cuniform,  ancient Greek or Hebrew. 

 

He is an incredible ancient linguist who accliamed fame debunking Jeremiah Sitchins ancient alien crap using his knowledge of ancient languages.   His views on the belief of second temple Jewish thought and the impact of the book of enoch is interesting. 

Any idea why he wanted to address Sitchins?  Almost seems too silly to bother 

I guess sitchins willingly misinterpreted ancient cuniform and Hebrew to sensationalize and sell books got some people irritated.  They enlisted him to get real translations.  My take is that he was then kind of put in the situation to defend himself.  The ancient aliens folks can be as dogmatic as any other religion.  I don't think initially he knew what he was getting into.

 

 

Interesting  thanks for sharing.

I do find Yahweh's celestial court interesting.  Seraphim, cherub, angels, other lesser gods....seems like it evolved over time.  Probably more polytheistic earlier on then later they interpreted more in monotheistic light.

Assyrians had similar seraphim i think.  So many interesting overlaps between israeli religion and other canaanite and mesopotamian religions

17 days ago
8/18/06
Posts: 4861

So much so that even Justin the Martyr believes Greek myths are another telling of the book of Enoch. 

17 days ago
8/18/06
Posts: 4862

It opens a ton of questions in that since the book of enoch was such a heavy influence,  when does it enter Judaism?  Was it developed through oral tradition or does it enter through through Babylon during the first diaspora?

17 days ago
2/5/06
Posts: 40819

later

17 days ago
8/18/06
Posts: 4863

I believe there something deeper that goes to the heart of early sumerian thought.   When you see this through a lense of lesser gods given geographical territory, think about how idols in major cities were kind of the king on a chess board.   When there were major wars it likely ended with taking the chief god in that city.   In our heads it's just kind of a Haha thing.  But in their mind it may have been something altogether more serious. 

17 days ago
3/28/02
Posts: 8183
okiebug -

It opens a ton of questions in that since the book of enoch was such a heavy influence,  when does it enter Judaism?  Was it developed through oral tradition or does it enter through through Babylon during the first diaspora?

Fascinating questions

are you familiar with Mark Smith's work?  He has done alot on the broader canaanite and mesopotamian influence on Israeli religion.   

 

The Origins of Biblical Monotheism 

The Early History of God

 

He thinks that Psalm 29 has been adapted from a Baal hymn, as do many other scholars 

 

Edited: 17 days ago
11/28/08
Posts: 23476
EazyG -
LordSeano - The god that most modern religious peopel worship bears no resemblance to the crazy old testament fucker they all followed.

I've tried a few times to slog through the bible and its literally like the story of Isis - bunch of jihadis trekking through the desert fighting followers of other gods. Cray stuff

It is a strange book

The early Israelites were clearly polytheists - 

Their name Isra - El-is derived from the Canaanite god El.

 

same with prophet Samu-El and place Beth- El....

 

but the book shows how it evolves and eventually become the monotheistic God we know of

El is also the generic Semitic word for a god. Elah, Elohim, Ilah, Allah.

I definitely take a historicist view on the development of the Tanakh, but am always sceptical when someone has a big theory that gets too specific about anything pre-exilic, and especially pre-monarchial.

17 days ago
8/18/06
Posts: 4864
EazyG -
okiebug -

It opens a ton of questions in that since the book of enoch was such a heavy influence,  when does it enter Judaism?  Was it developed through oral tradition or does it enter through through Babylon during the first diaspora?

Fascinating questions

are you familiar with Mark Smith's work?  He has done alot on the broader canaanite and mesopotamian influence on Israeli religion.   

 

The Origins of Biblical Monotheism 

The Early History of God

 

He thinks that Psalm 29 has been adapted from a Baal hymn, as do many other scholars 

 

I'll confess I haven't read his book, but I've listened to some lectures on it.  I'm not sure it's derived from it or there was so much similarity in the language used to attribute things to gods.  And that's not a counter point, I'm really not able to come to a conclusion. 

If you read what scribes wrote about conquering Mesopotamian kings it all starts to sound "biblical".

I think there's more similarities than differences as cultures overlapped so heavily in that area.  I always wondered how Uriah the Hittite lands smack dab in the middle of King David's court in that time in history.   It's far more conflated than we understand. 

16 days ago
3/28/02
Posts: 8188
anthonyMI -
EazyG -
LordSeano - The god that most modern religious peopel worship bears no resemblance to the crazy old testament fucker they all followed.

I've tried a few times to slog through the bible and its literally like the story of Isis - bunch of jihadis trekking through the desert fighting followers of other gods. Cray stuff

It is a strange book

The early Israelites were clearly polytheists - 

Their name Isra - El-is derived from the Canaanite god El.

 

same with prophet Samu-El and place Beth- El....

 

but the book shows how it evolves and eventually become the monotheistic God we know of

El is also the generic Semitic word for a god. Elah, Elohim, Ilah, Allah.

I definitely take a historicist view on the development of the Tanakh, but am always sceptical when someone has a big theory that gets too specific about anything pre-exilic, and especially pre-monarchial.

Romer does connect too many dots for my comfort but he provides the evidence he bases the conclusions and you can take your own view. I like to see the various evidence presented .

I think most critical scholars believe that Israel is a theophoric based on the Canaanite god, El.  And that the early Israelites were definitely polytheists.  Have you seen credible research claiming otherwise?

16 days ago
3/28/02
Posts: 8190

i am also fascinated by the origins of Yahweh.  Sounds like he came somewhere southest of Israel.  

A few psalms refer to Sinai, Seir and Mount Teman....

16 days ago
8/18/06
Posts: 4866
EazyG -
anthonyMI -
EazyG -
LordSeano - The god that most modern religious peopel worship bears no resemblance to the crazy old testament fucker they all followed.

I've tried a few times to slog through the bible and its literally like the story of Isis - bunch of jihadis trekking through the desert fighting followers of other gods. Cray stuff

It is a strange book

The early Israelites were clearly polytheists - 

Their name Isra - El-is derived from the Canaanite god El.

 

same with prophet Samu-El and place Beth- El....

 

but the book shows how it evolves and eventually become the monotheistic God we know of

El is also the generic Semitic word for a god. Elah, Elohim, Ilah, Allah.

I definitely take a historicist view on the development of the Tanakh, but am always sceptical when someone has a big theory that gets too specific about anything pre-exilic, and especially pre-monarchial.

Romer does connect too many dots for my comfort but he provides the evidence he bases the conclusions and you can take your own view. I like to see the various evidence presented .

I think most critical scholars believe that Israel is a theophoric based on the Canaanite god, El.  And that the early Israelites were definitely polytheists.  Have you seen credible research claiming otherwise?

This is where I differ.  I think there are 2 opposing views.   I know there are modern scholars who take that view but it's without a doubt the revisionist view.  I firmly believe that if you take a revisionist view there is a heavy burden of proof required.  The historical narrative is established.  

That said, I don't think our concept of monotheism vs. Polytheism would have even been understood by early Mesopotamian peoples.   Not because they were less intelligent but cultural context is far reaching through time.  Again we look back through time through multiple lenses of humanism,  the enlightenment,  cult movements,  the protestant reformation,  the advent of Islam, etc.

I think you could ask the bronze age Hebrew if there is one true God or many gods and he would answer "yes".

16 days ago
12/6/16
Posts: 4886

 

I think JP's analysis of the Bible goes much deeper and provides a lot more context of what the stories mean.

 

The Judeo Christian religion has transformed the world.  Before it, the rule was might makes right and human sacrifice was the norm.  Everywhere Christianity spread, it ended human sacrifice from Northern Europe to the Americas.  The idea that humans can naturally evolve the morals that are associated with the Western world without it is seriously faulty.