Thursday, April 17, 2014

The Deceiving Worm

Alice C. Linsley

On Maundy Thursday Christ our God instituted the Supper by which His people receive every spiritual benefit and blessing. It is His perfect gift to the Church: His very Body and Blood and the token of immortality.  He has faced death, the final enemy. He has overturned the corruption of this world. He has crushed the Deceiving Worm beneath his feet.

Judas was well deceived and his end was tragic.  The cosmic serpent communicates by many means and uses many tactics. Judas must have experienced these. Doubt, beguilement, distortion...

In what way does the serpent of Genesis represent deception? It raises doubt by asking, "Did God really say?" (Gen. 3:1)

The Deceiving Worm contradicts God's command, saying, "You are not going to die." (Gen. 3:4)

The Worm insinuates that God is not good. Eve is directed to consider that God is withholding something good from her.

There is beguilement. Eat the fruit and you will be like God.  How pleasant it is to look upon!

This night, as deceived Judas goes out to betray our Lord, let us contemplate the wonder of the Worm's defeat, not by sword or strongholds, but by the Blood of the Lamb.

Monday, April 7, 2014

A Cautionary Note about Collins' Sodom

Is this the location of Biblical Sodom?

Alice C. Linsley

Has Steven Collins found the site of Biblical Sodom? After 8 years of archaeological discovery in the Jordan Disk he believes he has, and if he is correct the conventional dating of the events of Genesis and Exodus must be revised.

Collins' argument is based on three main assertions. First he asserts that the Hebrew word "kikkar" can only be applied to the wide circular area of the southern Jordan Valley north of the Dead Sea where Tall el-Hammam is located. Genesis 13:10 says that Abraham and Lot saw "all the valley of the Jordan."

In Hebrew this reads, "kikkar hayarden" and Collins insists that this refers to the Jordan Disk, not the Valley of Siddim. He attempts to reinforce this with these additional claims: the area is visible from the region between Bethel and Ai where Abraham had pitched his tent; the area had bitumen, and the battle of the kings which took plain in the Valley of Siddim would have been fought as far away from Abraham's home as possible. Genesis 14:3 states that the kings fought "in the valley of Siddim." At Tall el-Hammam, Collins argues and his team excavated "numerous vessels spanning a thousand years with interiors stained and/or coated with bitumen."

Collins' claim has received much attention from scholars who refer to Tell-el-Hammam as the "Sodom of the north." However, he was not the first to suggest this possibility. In the late 19th century Tristram, Conder, Merrill and Thomson made a case for a location north of the Dead Sea in the southern Jordan Valley.

Tall el-Hammam is located about 14 kilometers northeast of the Dead Sea in the Jordan Disk, or "the Kikkar" (ring, disk, circle). This is a wide circular area of the southern Jordan Valley north of the Dead Sea. Exodus 25:11 kikar zahav tahor = circle of pure gold

The Jordan Disk was home to many fortified Middle Bronze Age occupations, including Tall Nimrin, Tall Kafrayn and Tall el-Hammam. Tall el-Hammam is the largest of these. Situated on a major ancient trade route, it enjoyed prosperity with numerous satellite towns. The site has had a long history of occupation including the Neolithic and Chalcolithic Periods and the Bronze Ages (3600-2000 BC). The city was surrounded by dolmens and cave and shaft tombs, and agricultural lands to the west. The importance of the site is indicated by the 6-meter thick Early Bronze Age (3600-2350 BC) ramparts that surrounded the city (see image below).

Collins writes that "Tall el-Hammam’s necroscape is much larger and more elaborate than the southern cemeteries, with thousands of cave and shaft tombs, standing stones, stone circles, henges, menhirs and dolmens spread over several square kilometers around Tall el-Hammam. There's even evidence of menhir alignments with astronomical significance, and alignments with the central sacred precinct of lower Tall el-Hammam."

Many regard Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 13-19) to be "Cities of the Plain," and based on Rabbinic sources, Sodom and Gomorrah have been linked with Bab edh-Dhra and Numeira. Collins argues that these sites are too early and in the wrong place. He believes that the evidence of a Middle Bronze Age destruction of Tall el-Hammam with the ensuing 500-year occupational hiatus strongly supports his theory that Tall-el-Hammam is Sodom. However, both the Jordan Disk and the valley of Siddim sustained equally ancient populations. The ramparts at Bab edh-Dhra in the south were started circa 3000 B.C. and the city thrived between 2500 and 2100. This corresponds closely to the time when Abraham would have been living in Canaan (c. 2050-1984).

The 1965-1968 cemetery excavations of Paul Lapp at Bab edh-Dhra cleared twenty seven shaft tombs with forty seven chambers in cemetery A, six tombs with single chambers on the slopes of cemetery C, and thirty shaft tombs with seventy three chambers in areas A, C, F, and G. It is fascinating to note that the majority of the graves were circular (kikar) like the “pan graves” of Abraham's Nilo-Saharan ancestors.

The Habiru

There is much in Collin's portrayal of Abraham and Lot's that is supported by other research. For example, he argues that Abram and Lot were 'Apiru  or Ha'biru (Hebrew) warlords who made treaties with rulers. The Habiru excelled metal work, water management and animal husbandry. They were also known as warriors and priests (especially the clan of Levi). In ancient texts the ruler-priest caste was associated with the seven visible planets/stars. The linguistic connection between the number seven and the word Habiru is evident in the Nilotic Luo word for seven: abiriyo. Joshua 6:4 speaks of seven priests who walk before the Ark, each carrying a ram's horn. Genesis 1:1–2:3 is the Priestly Source and the number seven permeates the narrative. The number seven also appears in the Priestly account of the flood (Gen. 7:2-8).

The Habiru originated in the Nile Valley. They dispersed across Arabia, and had shrine cities from Beersheba and Timna to Edom and north to Tall el-Hammam, the site that Collins claims to be Biblical Sodom.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Noah: The Hollywood Version

Alice C. Linsley

Paramount's big-budget film about Noah and the flood came out this week. Go see Darren Aronofsky’s film, featuring Russell Crowe as Noah and Anthony Hopkins as Methuselah. It is a white-knuckle thriller!

Keep in mind that Hollywood's objective is to entertain, not inform, so we can't hold it against Paramount or Aronofsky that the details are all wrong.

The evidence of Scripture, linguistics, climate studies, and DNA studies support the historicity of Noah and a time of flooding, but not in the Black Sea. Noah kept a royal menagerie and had many boats. These had wood frames and were made of reeds (called gofer in Scripture). He lived in the region of Lake Chad; the only place on Earth that claims to be Noah's homeland - Borno - "Land of Noah." Imagine how this movie would be received were Noah portrayed as a Nilo-Saharan!

In Noah's time, the larger lakes of his region reached levels sometimes 330 feet higher than their present levels. Around these bodies of water were spongy marshlands which provided channels for navigation for smaller boats. One such boat, the Dufuna dugout, was made of black mahogany. It was discovered in 1987 in the region of Borno at a depth of 16 feet under clays and sands whose alternating sequence indicated deposition in standing and flowing water. The dugout is 8000 years old.

Here is a diagram of Noah's descendants to the pivotal figure of Abraham.

Biblical Archaeology Review discusses the historicity of the event. In this article Ronald S. Hendel insists that people are looking in the wrong place for Noah's flood. He believes it took place in Mesopotamia, another region prone to flooding. He assumes that E.A. Speiser is correct in his assertion that the story of Atrahasis, the Mesopotamian Noah, forms the basis of the Biblical accounts. However, this 1700 B.C. account comes well after the time of Noah.

I argue here that it Noah's flood place in the region of Lake Chad, a region of lakes, basins and troughs that interconnected in the Mid-Holocene. The entire region was prone to flooding from monsoons off the Indian Ocean. The Gurian Wet Period lasted here for 500 years!

Saharan petroglyphs dating to between 4300 and 2900 BC show boats and cattle. These have been found in the Eastern Central Desert of Egypt and Sudan. Examples of these images are shown below.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Edo, Edom and Idumea


Note that both Hebron (where Sarah lived) and Beersheba (where Keturah lived) are in Idumea. Abraham's territory extended between the settlements of his two wives and was entirely in the region the Greeks called Idumea.

The Great Edo Empire of Benin

"Edo monarchs demonstrate strong affinity with ancient Egyptian Gods and Pharaohs, with which they share identical authority, grandeur and a great deal of reverence from their subjects. Like the Pharaohs, Idu (Edo) monarchs are God-kings. Because they are God-kings and God-sons, they are considered divine and worshipped by their subjects, who speak to them always with great reverence, at a distance, and on bended knees. Great ceremonies surround every action of the Edo king. The kings of Benin (Bini) also adopt grand Osirian titles of the ‘Open Eye,’ signifying omniscience and omnipotence. Edo monarchs, when they transit to the beyond, are, like the Egyptian Pharaohs, set up in state, in a linked series of underground chambers, surrounded with their paraphernalia of power, and all of the items they would require for their comfortable sojourn in the ethereal world" (From here.)

Edo, Edomite, Idoma and Idumea are related words. The Greeks called the inhabitants of this region "Idumeans" (people with a reddish skin tone, like the Igbo of Benin). The ancient name of Edo is Idu. Idu was the progenitor of the Edo or Idoma.  Hence the expression: “Iduh the father of Idoma.” The royal lines of the Edo have been orally transmitted. Iduh begot six sons: Ananawoogeno who begot the children of Igwumale; Olinaogwu who begot the people of Ugboju; Idum who begot the people of Adoka; Agabi who begot the people of Otukpo; Eje who begot the people of Oglewu; Ebeibi who begot the people of Umogidi in Adoka, and Ode who begot the people of Yala.

Obodas, the first ruler of Petra in Edom, took his title from the Edo name for ruler which is Oba.

The prophet Obadiah was from Edom, according to the Talmud, and said to have been a friend of the Horite ruler Job. Genesis 36 lists the Horite ruling family of Edom. Among them were two Horite rulers named Esau, as shown in the diagram below.

Related reading: Petra Reflects Horite Beliefs; The Edomites and the Color Red

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Nilo-Saharan and Saharo-Nubian Populations

Alice C. Linsley

In map A (below) we see a densely populated area around Nekhen, the oldest known shrine city of the Horites. The Horites were a caste of ruler-priests who were devotees of Horus, the Seed of the Creator, and his mother Hathor-Meri. Hathor is shown in ancient Nilo-Saharan images with the Y solar cradle on her head, indicating that she was divinely overshadowed.

Excavations at Nekhen (Hierakonpolis) have yielded numerous important artifacts, including evidence of sun veneration, circumcision, a caste of priests and animal sacrifice. The oldest known zoological collection was found during excavations at Nekhen in 2009. The royal menagerie dates to ca. 3500 BC and included hippos, elephants, baboons and wildcats.

pottery shards with dotted and wavy line pattern
After about 7000 BC these people were more widely dispersed throughout the Sahara and near Lake Chad. The epicenter of Noah's flood was likely in the region of Lake Chad. The ruler Noah likely kept a menagerie which he would have protected in the time of flood.

The dispersal of these peoples from the Nile region to Mali, Niger and Southern Algeria is indicated by the wavy-line and dotted pottery (shown right) found at sties across this expanse.

The Holocene Wet Period has be called the "Gurian Wet Period" and the "Aqualithic." The latter term was coined by British archaeologist John Sutton (Journal of Africa History 1974; Antiquity 1977). The Holocene Wet Period owes the abundance of water to climate cycles related to Earth's Great Year, to monsoons off the Indian Ocean, and to the African rifts that created great watersheds or troughs.

Rifting combined with prolonged rains caused this entire region to flood.
Lake Chad is located at the boundary of Niger, Nigeria, Chad and Cameroon. 
Between 12 and 10 thousand years ago, the Nile connected to the Chadic and Niger water systems through a series of shallow lakes in the Sahara Desert. This explains the common plant and animal species found in all three water systems.

"Examination of African barbed bone points recovered from Holocene sites provides a context to interpret three Late Pleistocene occurrences from Katanda and Ishango, Zaire, and White Paintings Shelter, Botswana. In sites dated to ca. 10,000 BP and younger, such artifacts are found widely distributed across the Sahara Desert, the Sahel, the Nile, and the East African Lakes. They are present in both ceramic and aceramic contexts, sometimes associated with domesticates. The almost-universal presence of fish remains indicates a subsistence adaptation which incorporates a riverine/lacustrine component. Typologically these points exhibit sufficient similarity in form and method of manufacture to be subsumed within a single African 'tradition.' They are absent at Fayum, where a distinct Natufian form occurs. Specimens dating to ca. 20,000 BP at Ishango, possibly a similar age at White Paintings Shelter, and up to 90,000 BP at Katanda clearly fall within this same African tradition and thus indicate a very long-term continuity which crosses traditionally conceived sub-Saharan cultural boundaries."(John E. Yellen. 1998. Barbed Bone Points: Tradition and Continuity in Saharan and Sub-Saharan Africa. African Archaeological Review, vol. 15, no. 3, pp. 173-198)

Near Fayum, closer to the Nile Delta, there is evidence of cultural affinity to the Natufians of Palestine.

Related reading: Egypt in its African Context; Africa is Archaeologically Rich; Boats and Cows of the Nilo-SaharansThe Urheimat of the Canaanite Y; The Nubian context of YHWH; Ancient African Writing Systems of Middle Africa

Saturday, March 22, 2014

JUST GENESIS Seven Year Anniversary

Alice C. Linsley

This blog began on March 22, 2007. Today marks seven years of blogging on the book of Genesis and related topics such as theories of creation, the dispersion of peoples in Genesis 10, Abraham's Nilo-Saharan ancestors, the origin of Messianic expectation among the Horites, the Afro-Asiatic context of Genesis, the urheimat of the Canaanite Y and the Nubian context of YHWH.

I believe the research I have been doing for the past 35 years has proven to be helpful for many people. Pray that more will be helped to understand Scripture and God's plan for the whole of creation.

The topics covered at JUST GENESIS are listed alphabetically in the INDEX.

Here are some responses to the research:

"Alice, you are an amazing scholar! I have been searching for toponymic evidence for Enoch in Africa for a long time. You are a brave pioneer. Your blog is a box of jewels. I wish I could examine each gem more closely."-- Susan Burns, Biblical Anthropologist (Washington)

Just Genesis is "an interesting blog dedicated to anthropological sleuthing of pre-Abrahamic origins."-- Madison Gentsch (Texas)

"Alice C. Linsley is an original and originals are few."--the late Igbo scholar Dr. Catherine Acholonu

"I have been immersed, (baptized) in your remarkable scholarship and compelling style. Thank you for sharing your gift and what can only be described as a passion."-- Father David W. Cardona (USA)

"If only Christian discourse in this country were filled with such enlightened, such profound insights into the origins of human thought and life! You do us all a great service in writing things like this."-- Arturo Vasquez (California)

"She has an excellent blog. I am amazed at the sources she analyzes and presents in her blog."-- Dr. Clyde Winters (USA)

"Alice, thank you so much for your research and blog. I am in my senior year at an evangelical university and taking a course in Genesis, but cannot reconcile with what's being taught. Your work has encouraged my faith in a way that words fail right now."-- Adam (USA)

"You are an excellent researcher. Your insights have the effect of exploding fluorescence. You have made me feel like the eons gone past are just within our reach; we don't need to look very far."--John Ogutu (Luo consultant from Kenya)

"I have read your blog for about two months now and what has been bothering me mentally for the past 50 years have been lightened. In my younger years I asked my grandfather why he faces the sun praying and he would say 'because it is the emblem of God.' He would kiss the ground but in all his life he was not a follower of Islam. In fact, in the catholic church in Dauis, Bohol his grandfather Damiano Bulang's name is etched in the first right side column. How I wish I can show my father to you in his position while performing his dawn prayer facing the sun, and I can hug him today."--Jose C. Bulang (The Philippines)

"Alice, I am thoroughly taken with your blog. What a wonderful gift! Keep up the great work."--Dr. William G. Brown (Midway College, Kentucky)

"In terms of tertiary studies, I learned Old Testament from 'extreme liberals' as well as 'moderate conservatives.' Then for years I felt satisfied that, although by no means a specialist, I had worked out a sensible approach to the Old Testament that was authentically Christian while avoiding the pitfalls of fundamentalism, marcionism and liberalism . . . especially with regard to the Book of Genesis. That was until I found Alice Linsley's work.

JUST GENESIS combines her biblical, historical, theological, cultural, historical, anthropological and archeological research, and takes the reader into fascinating areas which really do make sense (and have caused me to change quite a number of my previously held views!)."-- Bishop David Chislett (Australia) Read the full review here.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

In Memory of Dr. Catherine Acholonu

Shortly before Catherine Acholonu was hospitalized, she sent this e-mail message to Nenad M. Djurdjevic in which she expresses her belief that God is immutable and in this life we see dimly, as in shadows:

"The gods are back. In fact they never left their ancient posts for hundreds of thousands of years. There is no threat to Truth. Things happen when they must. The tide of life turns right, and then left, up and then down. It is all for providing sport for Deity. Nothing changes in their world, but semblances of change happen in ours, which are actually just shadows."

Catherine Acholonu
Alice C. Linsley

I received with sadness the news of the death of Igbo scholar, renowned writer, and university professor Catherine Acholonu-Olumba. Catherine Acholonu was born on 26 October 1951. She died this morning after being hospitalized for renal failure.  May she rest in peace.

We shared the same birth month and many of the same interests. We communicated by email and sometimes on Facebook. I refer to her research at Just Genesis and she referred to mine, saying "Alice C. Linsley is an original and originals are few."

Professor Catherine Obianuju Acholonu was the mother of four children and a leading scholar of Nigeria’s prehistory. She established the Catherine Acholonu Research Center in Abuja and traveled throughout Igboland conducting research. Dr. Acholonu regarded Iboland as the cradle of Afro-Sumerian peoples.

She gained a master’s degree (1977) and a Ph.D. (1987) from the University of Düsseldorf, Germany. From 1999 to 2002, she was the Special Adviser on Arts and Culture to the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, under ex President Obasanjo.

The late Dr. Acholonu was the author of at least eighteen books, many of which are used in secondary schools and universities in Nigeria, and in African Studies Departments in USA and Europe. She supported Radio Biafra and helped with the "million man march" and was steadfast in her defense of the indigenous peoples of Africa, especially in Biafra.

Catherine and American friend Sidney Davis

She was a strong advocate of traditional Igbo culture and religion and those who knew her well addressed her as Ezenwanyi, which in Igbo means "a women with the power of a king."

She advocated equality for women. Her book Motherism discusses gender, culture and identity with a focus on women and mothering. She believed that early worship was directed toward the Mother Goddess.

She also maintained that Biblical Eden was in the Niger delta, for which there is some evidence if we understand Eden as being a vast well-watered region extending from the Niger Basin to the Nile Valley.

Dr. Acholonu connected the Ar of Canaan to the Aro of Nigeria. She wrote, "In Nigeria the caste under reference is the Ar/Aro caste of Igbo Eri priest-kings, who were highly militarized in their philosophy." The Amorites were the Am-Ar, meaning the people/tribe/caste of Ar. They are called the Aro among the people living at the confluence of the Benue and Niger Rivers in Nigeria. Some migrated to this well-watered region before the time of Abraham. Catherine Acholonu claimed that they were a caste of scribes.

She wrote, "The Igbo Ar/Aro are the scribes of the Igbo God Ele/El (Chukwu Abiama) who dwells in the southern extension of the Underground Duat called the Long Juju. They were and are still proficient in various kinds of ancient scripts called Akwukwo Aka Igwe, and Nsibidi which has many Sumerian pictographs and Egyptian hieroglyphics and has been said to be older than 5000 yrs. Sumerian pictographs were in use by 3500 BC. That shows how old Nsibidi is. It has been called the oldest writing system in Africa. The Aro were originally the military arm of the Eri clan of Priest-kings who were the first Pharaohs of Egypt and the first kings of the world. They were charged with guarding the Great Serpent's Shrine called ARO BU N'AGU."

Here is a YouTube video of Dr. Acholonu speaking on one of her favorite topics. Here is another video where she discusses "The Lost Testament of the Ancestors of Adam" - her eighteenth book.