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Influence Of The Civilization Of Sumer On The Bible's First Author, "J", The Jahwist

Sumer is the oldest recorded civilization known on earth. It existed for over 3000 years between the mid-5th millennium and the early 2nd millennium BC. In other words, it existed long before the time of David and Solomon, when "J" first began to write down the national history and legends that would afford Israel the respect it desired among the other civilizations of the world.

The Sumerian King List, written in the Sumeric language and dating back to the early 2nd millennium BC, has interesting features which could have influenced "J" in conceiving a story that included pre-flood patriarchs who lived many hundreds of years.

The List of Kings mentions a flood. It begins with eight successive kings who reigned before the flood for a period of time covering 241,000 years. Kings lived long enough to rule for the shortest reign of 18,600 years to the longest reign of 43,200 years. The extraordinary length of the lives of the kings began to get smaller and smaller as the record drew up to the time when this list was written. In other words as the list drew up to the time of recent history that could be reasonable remembered or checked, the length of the king's lives were written more reasonably, in the single and double digits. It was easier to create legends that took place in the distant past as they were more difficult to question.

It was common for the ancients to ascribe god-like attributes to human beings while they were living and even more when they were dead. In this List of Kings the earlier names may not have even really existed. Flooding was an important fact of life in the lowlands of the Euphrates and Tigris rivers, and flooding would be a natural component to include in making up this list. All I'm saying is that humans with very long lives, a flood, gods in heaven, mother-gods with son-gods, war in heaven between good and evil deities, animal sacrifice and gods who care how we live our lives and who expect appeasement of their wrath were all well established ideas and beliefs existing in the world before the first pages of what has become known as the Bible were written. Could Genesis be based on contemporary legends, a need for a respectable national history and some factual stories thrown in to boot?

Here are some links for further study if you wish:
List of Kings:


History Contemporary With Biblical Origin

I have become aware that there are folks who honestly do not wish to consider history outside of what is written in the Bible. These are well-meaning people who believe so vehemently in the Bible and so distrust historians that they are unwilling to look outside of the Bible's "cone" of history from Adam and Eve to the present. While it seems an ostrich-like approach to me, I guess we're all different. But it is my belief that having a little wider scope of knowledge is a better course.

I think it is well established by even Biblical scholars that no original copies exist of the Old Testament. I think it is also fairly well established that the first committing of the stories of the Old testament to writing, though traditionally held to have been written around 1458-1400 BC, actually occurred around the time of Ezra around 900 BC. Without question, the nearly complete copy of Isaiah found in the Dead Sea Scrolls, is nearly identical to what we find in the Bible today. So I concede, that copying techniques of these old books has been pretty accurate from the time they were written until now. But this says nothing about where, how and why these stories and documents originated in the first place. To restate: the fact that Isaiah has remained pretty well intact from the time of its writing until now says nothing about the validity of the stories in the book of Genesis.

So for folks who don't want to investigate what historians of today have to offer, I think, though they may not like me speaking for them, their view is something like this: Moses and others orally transmitted events such as creation and Adam and Eve, which they believed to have occurred 2400 years before their existence together with their contemporary history for 200 to 300 years until it was written down.

For those who wish to benefit from the knowledge at our disposal today, it is fairly evident that someone in the court of King Solomon wrote the first pieces of what we know today as Genesis, Exodus and Numbers around 900 BC. For lack of knowing that person's name, that person is referred to as "J".

For the short term in this blog, I am going to post some of the things which were happening in the contemporary world of King David and King Solomon, as I feel that it has a bearing upon the stories found in the Old Testament.


Santa Claus, The Tooth Fairy and Guardian Angels.

A stray bullet, shot into the air in celebration, crashes through the roof of a church and hits this little boy in the head and kills him. They said he was anxious to get to church because he enjoyed it so much.

So many people grow up believing that guardian angels protect their children. Honestly, I believe guardian angels are a false idea portrayed by texts such as Psalms 91:9: "If you make the Most High your dwelling--even the Lord, who is my refuge--then no harm will befall you, no disaster will come near your tent."

And the Bible quotes Jesus as saying, " See that you do not look down of one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven." This is another of the verses which supposedly assures parents that angels are assigned to their children. But in my own little sphere of this world, I could name, but won't, a half of a dozen terrible examples where calamity has struck the children of strong believers. I have heard it all. God took them home early to be with him because he could see something in their future which he didn't want them to have to go through. Or they were doing bad things, and the angels couldn't protect them. Or it's a Job experience and our faith is being tested. Or some things we can't have answers for now, and we'll have to wait for heaven to have them answered.

That's why I wrote this book, Surrender of Sovereignty, to explain the reasons why I have no confidence in the Bible. I think guardian angels are a nice idea that the human writers of the Bible convinced themselves to believe. I realize this hits close to home, but if you look at who experiences calamity and who doesn't it seems more random and related to the situation at hand. It really doesn't seem like God is deciding who he's taking home early, who he's going to test, who's been so bad that he has to pull his angels back from their guardian service.


Killing for God

Here is a man (see link to article below) who has surrendered to the religion of Islam and the idea that his God will speak to him. I do not doubt that he has attended religious services somewhere and hears or reads his sacred scriptures from time to time. I do not doubt that he prays. I do not doubt that he believes that God is a personal God to him. So as his mind wakes up one morning, and all the memories in his mind flood together-- memories of his childhood, memories of his life, memories of his religious experiences, memories of sermons heard, memories of scriptures-- a thought forms in his mind. The mind is doing what it is designed to do. It boots up all the data that has been entered into this mind during its lifetime and formulates some ideas for the day. These ideas can be rejected or acted upon. In his case, he believed that the words that formed in his mind were the words of God. And he chose to act upon them. Here we see scriptures, faith, devotion, relationship and a willingness to act.

Now Christians will probably think he's listening to the Devil. But nearly every religion feels that other religions are listening to the wrong deity or taking the wrong path in some way. I'm sure that this man feels that Christians are infidels and listening to Satan. I submit that a thought came up into his mind, based on all the data entered during his lifetime; and because he believed that he had a personal relationship with God, he took that thought to be from God. Expressing his devotion and faith he chose to act upon it.

And by the way, some of you are having difficulty knowing how to comment. At the end of this "post", before the next "post", you will see the word "Comments" in red. Sometimes it's gray. I'm not sure why. Click it to leave your ideas or comments.

Here is the link for the news clip: - Wis. man charged with killing 4 relatives in Ill.

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SOS: Another Sneek Peek

"Hypnosis involves an authority figure and a willingness of a person to receive suggestions from that figure. When people read what they consider to be holy writings, expecting to hear from God as they read and are willing to act upon that perceived revelation, a dangerously hypnotic situation arises. Surrender of Sovereignty, Chapter 11, Christianity a Bed for Fanaticism.

This example of Pastor Jim Jones, who took his flock from California to Guyana and then led them to commit mass suicide, is an extreme example to be sure; but when people give up their sense of reason to believe fantastic theories or fables, the same scenario plays out on a more hidden subtle scale. Submission can be made to not only charismatic individuals, but also to ideas and old Books that have been around and believed so long that it's become a comfortable status quo.


Surrender of Sovereignty: Sneek Peek of the Week

"Hypnosis involves an authority figure and a willingness of a person to receive suggestions from that figure. When people read what they consider to be holy writings, expecting to hear from God as they read and are willing to act upon that perceived revelation, a dangerously hypnotic situation arises. Surrender of Sovereignty, Chapter 11, Christianity a Bed for Fanaticism.

This type of story happens all the time. Supposedly holy writings put in the hands of common people: I don't think it's God's doing. Here's just one of many examples. What would God expect a not-so-bright guy to do when he reads Matthew 26:26, "Take and eat; this is my body." Then he thinks he hears from God and crazy stuff happens. Click this link:

Albert Einstein's God

Albert Einstein is often referred to as a man who believed in God. Let's let him speak for himself.

"It was, of course, a lie what you read about my religious convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated. I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it." Albert Einstein, 1954, The Human Side. Responding to a child who wrote and asked if scientists pray.


Animal Sacrifices: Are You Sure That Was God's Idea?

Animal sacrifices were performed in the Minoan culture of Phaistos on Crete from 2000 to 1700 BCE where basins have been found which were used for animal sacrifices. Animal sacrifices were a universal practice during 2000-1500 BCE in the Ancient Near East. The Aryan tribes north of the Caucasian steppes had been offering a Plant, a Bull, and a Man many centuries before the first Biblical stories began to be put into a written narrative during the court of Solomon. The need for blood to satisfy God was an older idea than the Hebrews.

And the near sacrifice of Isaac by his father Abraham has been a standard for all monotheistic religions: Judaism, Islam and Christianity. Is it reasonable? Could it simply have been the traditional practice of ancient religions adapted for later generations?

And here's how its done today in India.

Now as this pertains to the roots of Christianity, Islam, Judaism and even Mormonism, sacrifice was allegedly demanded by God. A complete system of animal sacrifice was built and the Bible instructs in Leviticus all the rules for sacrifice. Chapter 4:27-29 explains: "If a member of the community sins unintentionally and does what is forbidden in any of the Lord's commands, he is guilty. When he is made aware of the sin he committed he must bring as his offering a female goat without defect. He is to lay his hand on the head of the of the sin offering and slaughter it at the place of the burnt offering." Just the men 20 years and older who were able to fight in the army were numbered at 603,550. So a sinful day in the wilderness could be a pretty bloody day at the gate of the tabernacle. Pretty barbaric even for a practice that Christians say points forward to Jesus.

When was the Old Testament Written?

The oldest written authorship for segments of the Torah, which were eventually included and canonized in the Hebrew Bible, which Christians further used for their Old Testement, originated around the 9th century BCE. The authorship of strands of what we now call Genesis, Exodus and Numbers came on the heels of the recent development by the Hebrews of their own alphabet and script. The Greeks were just putting the finishing touches on their own script. China already had its script in place. Babylonia was already writing in Cuneiform (see photos: first picture-Indus Valley Seals 2600 to 2000 BCE , and second picture-Harappan script 1528 BCE).

Solomon was anxious to build the Kingdom of David and put the royal treasury behind his magnificent efforts, including the development of a national narrative or history. So the writing of the first scraps of what we now call the Torah or the Pentateuch or the first five books of the Old Testament began. They were written by an unknown author that scholars refer to as "J" because this author, who many believe was female named her main character Jaweh.

Many ideas in the Christian Old Testament were already being practiced and flourishing in the civilizations around them that were older than they were. More to come in this blog: be sure you're getting the RSS feed so yo can be updated.


Monotheistic Male Domination

Men abusing women and children. This bride was only 13. The article says they tried to pass a law that girls under the age of 17 couldn't be married in that country, but it was not passed because they felt it was un-Islamic. Ah yes, monotheistic religions. Genesis 3:16 records God saying to Eve, " Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you." And when women don't want to have sex, it's only natural to assume they are possessed by spirits and need the devils cast out. - Dead Yemeni child bride tied up, raped, says mom

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Priests Aren't The Only Ones!

For the record, it's not just a problem with Catholic priests. Another man that people were convinced was hearing from God. - Preacher convicted of killing wife, freezing body

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For Those New At Blogging

I am new to this also, so I have some compassion for those of you who are new to this. What I have learned, I think, is this. When you become a follower, nothing happens except that your picture shows up on my site and we can all see who's following the blog and I get a warm fuzzy feeling because you cared. I have added the RSS feed buttons now, and they will allow you, should you desire to be kept abreast of any new posts or comments. For example, if you are on Google, you can use their Reader, which is free. Whenever you are on someones blog and wish to be updated on what they say or others comment on, you can choose to have entries forwarded to Google's Reader. You can monitor other sites of interest to you also. So in Reader you can easily keep up-to-date on what's being said on the blogs you want to follow. But if that is more than you care to do, just check back with us once in a while and see what's going on. Thank you John Lowry for preparing this little clip for me explaining the above better than I can do with words.


First 5 Blog Follows will receive a Free Signed Copy

I know it's hard being the first few to put down your names and follow my blog, but for the first five who bravely become blog followers, I will send a free signed copy when it is released.

Preview Peek of the Week

As we hear about the current sexual abuse of children often overlooked by many Catholic clergy, consider this excerpt from my soon to be released book, Surrender of Sovereighty, Chapter 11: Christianity: A Fertile Bed for Fanaticism-- " . . .humans forgetting how decent human beings ought to treat each other by following the fanatical impulses of their religiosity."


Expected Release Date

"Surrender of Sovereignty" is scheduled to be available from Wheatmark and most major book retailers in September, 2010.