● Israel and Egypt ● Christianity ● Manetho ●
Israel and Egypt
Neith and the Two Biblical Deborahs: One and the Same
Abstract: The bible makes reference to two separate women named Deborah. One was the nurse to Abraham’s son Isaac and the other was, in the much later period of the Judges, a military leader referred to as “a mother in Israel”. Both seem to have mythic images and both are identified with a particular Tree of Weeping.
The Egyptian goddess Neith has a reputation as both a military figure and as a mother goddess and nurse, characteristics that caused the Greeks to identify her with the goddess Athena. In Hebrew, Deborah means “Bee” and that symbol is closely identified with Neith. A Temple to Neith was called “House of the Bee”, and the Bee was the symbol of kingship in Lower Egypt.
In this paper I will argue that both Deborahs were mythological figures based on Hebrew recollections of the goddess Neith, the goddess who ruled in the area of Egypt where Israel dwelled in earlier times. In support of this argument I will draw upon some materials in Plutarch’s account of the Osiris myth, which suggests that Neith may have been associated with a Tree of Weeping. I will also make other mythological comparisons between Neith and the two Deborahs.
Horus, Seth, and Israel: Egyptian Literary Reflections in a Biblical Mirror
Abstract; In this lecture by Gary Greenberg presented at a meeting of the ARCE-NY, he describes numerous literary parallels between episodes in Genesis concerning the brothers Jacob and Esau and literary accounts in ancient Egypt about the brother gods Horus and Seth.
Osarseph and Exodus: Literary Reflections in an Egyptian Mirror
Abstract: The story of Osarseph, preserved by Josephus and attributed by him to an Egyptian priest named Manetho, tells of the struggles between a rebellious Egyptian priest named Osarseph and a Pharaoh Amenhotep and his son “Ramesses also called Sethos”. Osarseph, according to the story, seized control of Egypt for thirteen years, instituted a reign of terror, and destroyed Egypt’s religious institutions. The pharaoh fled from Egypt and hid his son away for safety. Later, the son returned and expelled Osarseph from Egypt. This Osarseph, says Manetho, was Moses, the biblical hero..
Most Egyptologists and biblical scholars who study this report easily recognize that it tells of events during the reign of Pharaoh Akhenaten, but they uniformly reject the identification of Moses with Osarseph. By concentrating solely on the passage identifying these two figures as one and the same, however, I submit that scholars have overlooked many additional passages that have literary parallels in the biblical Exodus account, but which switch the role of villain and hero.
The Generations of the Heavens and of the Earth: Egyptian Deities in the Garden of Eden
Abstract: “These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens . . .” Gen. 2:4
The above quote from Gen. 2:4 introduces us to the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Many biblical scholars believe that the next few verses contain a slightly different version of Creation than that contained earlier in Gen. 1. What is especially unusual is the reference to the “generations of the heavens and the earth.” In the several other instances when Genesis says, “These are the generations of . . .”, it refers to information about a parent and their children. This would imply that Genesis 2 is about the Children of the Heavens and Earth, a polytheistic throwback to an earlier cosmogony. But whose cosmogony?
Dating the Exodus: Another View
Abstract: This is an essay from KMT Magazine responding to an earlier article about dating the Exodus. It explores some of the problems involved in trying to date the Exodus from biblical data.
Noah’s Flood: Babylonian or Egyptian in Origin?
Abstract: While it is undeniable that the Genesis account of the world-wide flood shares several points of contact with the flood story in the Gilgamesh epic, there are several places where the two stories depart. In this reassessment of the Genesis story influences, I propose that it originated with Egypt’s Hermopolitan Creation myth, featuring four male and four female deities on the primeval waters who produce a child who becomes the creator of life for all living things. Because of the monotheistic thrust of the Israelites, the polytheistic nature of the story was altered, and Noah, his three sons, and the four wives replaced the four Egyptian male and female deities, and the child Canaan replaced the child born to the deities. In later times, when Israel moved into the Babylonian cultural sphere the Gilgamesh flood story was overlaid onto the earlier Egyptian creation account.
In the present paper, I will examine the Hermopolitan creation myth, show how it takes shape in the Genesis flood story, and show how Genesis’s differences from the Babylonian flood story can be identified with the underlying Hermopolitan creation myth.
Manetho’s Seventh and Eighth Dynasties: A Puzzle Solved
Published in the Journal of the Society for the Study of Egyptian Antiquities (JSSEA) # 25) in 2002. There may be some minor editorial differences between this version and the final printed version.
Abstract: Each of the four major Egyptian King-lists–Turin Canon, Table of Sakkara, Table of Abydos, Manetho–has a radically different roster for the number of kings in Egypt’s Memphite Sixth Dynasty. Only Manetho follows the Sixth Dynasty with a Memphite Seventh and Eighth Dynasty. Egyptologists have attempted to correlate Manetho’s Seventh and Eighth Dynasties with the different number of kings for the Sixth Dynasty. In this article, published in JSSEA, I argue that Manetho never had a Seventh and Eighth Dynasty and that his redactors badly garbled his text by misunderstanding summation lines in Manetho’s text. I identify the specific errors made, show how they came about, and restore Manetho’s original Sixth Dynasty chronology. The reconstructed version shows that Manetho’s original chronological record for the Sixth Dynasty was consistent with the Table of Abydos, which had the longest list, and that the reasons for the different number of kings in the Sixth Dynasty resulted from political differences between different cult centers as to which kings were or were not legitimate.
Manetho’s Twelfth Dynasty and the Standard Chronology
Published in the Journal of the Society for the Study of Egyptian Antiquities (JSSEA) # 29) in 2009. There may be some minor editorial differences between this version and the final printed version.
Abstract: With regard to Twelfth Dynasty chronology, the standard chronology (i.e., the High Chronology) developed by Edgerton and Parker has come under substantial attack by advocates of a shorter dynasty (i.e. Low Chronology) with a somewhat later starting date. In this paper I will argue that Manetho’s Twelfth Dynasty chronology derived from accurate Egyptian chronological records and that his original uncorrupted account of this dynasty coincided precisely with
the standard (High) chronology
Jesus Before Pilate: What’s Wrong with This Picture?
Abstract: Sadly, the gospel accounts are at complete odds with the available historical data about the relationship between Pilate and the Jews. The evidence suggests that the gospel accounts are wrong, that if there is any historical core to this story then Pilate never intended to release Jesus and Jews had nothing to do with Pilate’s decision to have Jesus crucified.
Did Pre-Gospel Christians Believe Judas Betrayed Jesus?
Abstract: In the period when the Gospels were being written, rival traditions existed about Judas, a negative image in the communities where the canonical Gospels originated, and a positive image within some other communities such as Paul’s circle, the Q community and the proponents of the Gospel of Peter. Given the priority of Paul and Q, and the ambiguity as to motive in Mark, this evidence strongly suggests that Judas did not originally have a negative reputation, and the hostility towards him was a subsequent development.
The Eucharist Problem: John versus Paul
Abstract; It will be my suggestion that John, writing about a half-century after Paul, preserved a pre-Pauline form of the Eucharist teaching and that Paul’s revelation is a radical reinterpretation and explanation of what Jesus must have meant when he delivered the version preserved by John.
Roman Days, Jewish Nights, and the Gospel Calendar Problem
Abstract: The Jewish day began at sundown. The Roman day began at sunrise. The textual evidence shows that all of the gospel authors used a Roman calendar day to describe events that unfolded under the Jewish calendar day, making a chronological mess out of the gospel passion narrative. Did Jesus rise on the third day? Earlier? Later? The evidence isn’t clear.
Is John a Synoptic Gospel?
Abstract: If it can be demonstrated that John does indeed know a very large number of story details from the synoptic gospels, often agreeing with one synoptic gospel against another, might it not also be the case that John, too, had a theological agenda, that he also wanted to correct errors that he perceived in one or the other synoptic gospels, and that his corrections made it difficult to see his reliance on a synoptic source?
John 11:45-54: The Key to John’s Chronological and Narrative Structure
Abstract: Much of John’s gospel differs significantly from the synoptic gospels in both chronological structure and in the narrative description of details that seem to revolve around parallel episodes. This is probably most apparent in the divergent accounts of Jesus’ last visit to Jerusalem and in related issues.
It is the thesis of this paper that John 11:45-54, that gospel’s account of the plot to kill Jesus, establishes a major change to the Passion story from that in the synoptic gospels and that change had an editorial ripple effect throughout John’s gospel in order to make the larger narrative consistent with John’s alternative story line. This editorial ripple effect, I suggest, is responsible for many of the chronological and narrative differences between John and the synoptic gospels.
Was Mary the Name of Jesus’ Mother: A Source-Critical Perspective
Abstract: If we had no reliable written sources mentioning the name of Jesus’ mother, a good guess would be Mary. Statistically, it was one of the most popular, if not the most popular, name for Jewish women in the first century. In the Christian scriptures, more women have the name Mary than any other name. The question I wish to raise here is whether we have any reliable written evidence that Mary was the name of Jesus’ mother.