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The Lord of Spirits vs Conventional "Biblical Scholars"

After taking a few weeks off, I'm catching up with the Lord of Spirits podcast.  Since I started listening, I actually purchased the two-volume Pseudepigrapha so that I can read along.

It is intense.

As I go through it, I keep coming back to the same nagging sense that I've had ever since I started seriously studying ancient history, which is simply:  Why do religious scholars seem to demand what would otherwise be impossible standard of proof?

A book survives from ancient times.  It's the only copy we have left.  It is referenced by other surviving books.

In any other setting, scholars would dive into this trove of information, eagerly devouring its contents, treasuring its glimpse into a hitherto lost world.

Oh wait, it's about Christianity?  Well, we need to do some serious authentication here.

It's just weird.  I admit, I'm not like everyone else: I got religious after getting into ancient history.  In fact, it was my experience of dealing with the lone manuscript that got me to thinking:  "It's sure weird how many different versions of essentially the same event we've got.  Almost like it really happened."

There seems to be a conceit within modern biblical scholars that unless one can prove a date-stamp on a notarized copy of the Gospels, it must have been tinkered with.  It's almost a given within this community that all the sacred scripture was edited to make it "right."  Easier that way, don't you know.

But what if it wasn't? 

The First Book of Enoch is in the Pseudepigrapha and there's a delightful editor's note explaining that after a century of study, the scholars had worked out which parts were written when and had an agreed-upon timeline.  The overwhelming consensus was that all the prophecies were added after the events happened, because as everyone knows, religion is fake.

And then they found the Dead Sea Scrolls, which authenticated the whole thing as being written centuries earlier - which is to say before the events described in such detail came to pass.


I admit that took me by surprise, and I can see why the good fathers at The Lord of Spirits like to turn back to it because the origin and provenance are beyond question.

The other conceit (which gets some mention on the show) is for scholars and their secular media allies to fall for every single hoax, no matter how thinly-sourced.  They also like to run these stories just in time for Easter.  You know, because they're hateful jerks.

Another thing I really like about the podcast is the effort they take to provide context regarding religious writings and ceremonies of the time.  It helps to compare like with like. 

A key point they have made is that modern academics treat religion as if it's just an add-on, a 'nice to have' thing once survival is taken care of and everyone has a comfy cave with a bearskin rug and lots of firewood.

It's not.  Every human culture everywhere and at all times has had a religious system.  It's inherent in who we are.  The notion that religions is a second-tier function is patently false.  It is what gives life meaning and we keenly feel it.  From time to time, societies become extremely affluent and this causes those on top to imagine that they are now masters of their own fate.  Such delusions inevitably are the prelude for civilizational decline. 

The podcasts can get pretty long-winded and not everyone has two hours to spend listening to them, but they do provide transcripts, which are also helpful to go back and look things up.


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