Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Biblical Anthropology and Antecedents

The Het/Heth Temples (Gen. 10:15, Gen. 23:2-11); Set/Seti/Seth of the Sethite Mounds of the Nile.

Tera-neter refers to a priest of God. Abraham's father was called Tera/Terah.

Alice C. Linsley

I receive e-mail and Facebook communications from people every week telling me that they have found the approach of Biblical Anthropology helpful in gaining a better understanding of the Bible. Often they have questions that I attempt to answer, and sometimes they provide me with extremely important data that advances this research.

In these conversations I've noticed that Evangelical Protestants tend to ignore the Old Testament and they struggle to find Jesus Christ in Genesis, but young Jews mostly get it! They recognize that there are Messianic references throughout the Hebrew Scriptures (Tanakh).

Both groups recognize that the ancestry of Jesus, as it is set out in Luke and Matthew, involves mothers who were not Jewish. This is troubling, since Jewishness is traced through the mother. It is troubling also because it raises questions about Jewish claims of racial purity.

Cherry picking verses to support one's agenda is dishonest and easily discredited when we take a more empirical approach to the study of the Bible.

Feminist interpretations that would have us believe the biblical Hebrew to be patriarchal and oppressive are exposed as shallow when we examine the social structure of the biblical Hebrew through the lens of cultural anthropology.

Biblical anthropology can be upsetting. The focus on antecedents of the biblical Hebrew and the Messianic Faith exposes us to data that doesn't always support the dominant narratives of Jews and Christians.

It is troubling that the Messiah is foreshadowed in Nilotic texts that predate the Bible by about 1000 years. An example is passage 48 in the Coffin Texts. Here we find the words of Psalm 110, a Messianic reference:
"I am Horus, the great Falcon upon the ramparts of the house of him of the hidden name. My flight has reached the horizon. I have passed by the gods of Nut. I have gone further than the gods of old. Even the most ancient bird could not equal my very first flight. I have removed my place beyond the powers of Set, the foe of my father Osiris. No other god could do what I have done. I have brought the ways of eternity to the twilight of the morning. I am unique in my flight. My wrath will be turned against the enemy of my father Osiris and I will put him beneath my feet in my name of 'Red Cloak'."

The Ancient Egyptian Pyramid Texts provide a great deal of information about the relationship of God the Father, called Ra or Ani and God the Son, called Horus or Enki. The ancients already held a view of the Father and Son as one and co-equal. Horus is the one said to rise from the dead on the third day. Horus was the divine patron of the high kings and the righteous rulers who hoped for bodily resurrection.

Horus who was pierced in the side, died, and rose. The expectation that the Righteous Son would not remain in the grave is expressed in Psalm 16:10: "For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. The final enemy is death. Psalm 110: The Lord says to my Lord: "Sit at My right hand until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet."

Both Evangelicals and Jews are struggling with antecedents and would benefit from the findings of Biblical Anthropology. Both groups rely on many outdated and often conflicting interpretations from rabbis, pastors, the Talmud, and Bible commentaries. It would be wiser for them to set these aside and simply read the Bible from cover to cover.

There is a reason this book has survived, and has been translated into more languages than any other book. David Noel Freedman once said: “The Hebrew Bible is the one artifact from antiquity that not only maintained its integrity but continues to have a vital, powerful effect thousands of years later.”

It takes some training to learn to notice anthropologically significant details in the Biblical narratives. Biblical anthropologists work with data and details, setting aside interpretations in order to gain a clear picture of archaic culture traits, religious beliefs, and the kinship patterns of the biblical Hebrew.

The focus of my research is primarily the Proto-Saharan and Nilotic ancestors among whom the hope of immortality was already a long-standing tradition. The Horite Hebrew were unique in their faith and that uniqueness appears to be the result of divine revelation, divine guidance, and their preservation of the Messianic Tradition of their ancestors.

The anthropological tool of kinship analysis, when applied to the Genesis kings lists, reveals that the same marriage and ascendancy pattern applies to Cain, Lamech, Seth, Ham, Shem, Terah, Abraham, Esau, Jacob, Amram, Moses, Elkanah and Joseph of Nazareth. This pattern could not have been written back into the texts at a late date. It is authentic as it stands up to rigorous analysis by anthropologists using the tools of kinship analysis. The marriage and ascendancy pattern of the ruler-priest caste weaves throughout the Bible, like the scarlet cord, from beginning to end.

The Bible is a miraculous book, clearly superintended through the centuries by the LORD. This is especially evident in the analysis of the kinship pattern of the ruler-priest lines from Genesis 4 to Joseph, of the priestly line of Mattai, and the Virgin Mary, daughter of the priest Joachim. The kinship pattern of these Horite Hebrew ancestors is unique and can be traced throughout the Bible through the cousin bride's naming prerogative.

When it comes to making discoveries, the Bible is a useful resource for anthropologists and archaeologists. When it comes to reconstructing a picture of the antecedents of the Messianic Faith we are talking about a matter of importance to Christians and Jews. We must not force data into a preconceived interpretation. We must avoid a literalist reading of everything, and we must not assume that some propositions are not to be taken literally. 

Some read the Bible in a scholarly way and some read for personal devotions. There is another way to read the Bible: through the lens of cultural anthropology, and this is what we are trying to do at the Facebook forum The Bible and Anthropology. Reading Scripture this way is rigorous because no assumption can stand untested, and no assertion can be made without data.

Biblical anthropology focuses on the diverse biblical populations, their culture traits, beliefs and practices, their ways of communication, their technologies, and their material world in general. This is a scientific approach. Failure to investigate with rigor represents poor stewardship of God's Word, a primary authority for Jews and Christians alike.

Related reading: The Substance of Abraham's FaithWhat Abraham Discovered on Mount Moriah; The Ra-Horus-Hathor Narrative; Judaism is NOT the Faith of AbrahamSupport Research in Biblical Anthropology; Anthropological Evidence for the ExodusSomething Older; A Little About Sources; A Little About Sources

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