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Saturday, January 10, 2009

A Rebuttal of Hislop's The Two Babylons

Candy's reading list now has her reading one of her favorite books, The Two Babylons. She references it often enough in her posts that I thought we had already written about it, but I found that we don't have anything in a single post. Here are some resources on this important book, which is the foundation for many anti-Catholic claims.

Many Bible Christians consider The Two Babylons as very authoritative on the pagan roots of Catholicism. Christians such as Ralph Woodrow, who has his own evangelistic association. Mr. Woodrow found The Two Babylons so compelling, he wrote his own book about the pagan origins of Cathoicism. But then, he started actually checking Hislop's citations, and they were not what they were purported to be. So Mr. Woodrow recanted his book, and wrote a different book called The Babylon Connection? debunking The Two Babylons. You can read a summary of his arguments in The Two Babylons: A Case Study in Poor Research Methodology.

Does Catholicism mix in pagan practices? Perhaps, but I think Candy can defend Catholicism in her own words here, from a blog post in November 2007, which is no longer available:

Moving on to the decorating of the evergreen or other green deciduous trees, we do find in history pagans celebrating winter solstice, long before Christ was born. This tree decorating was also done by other heathen and pagan peoples in the past. Does this mean that a Christian having a Christmas tree is pagan? Not at all.

The pagans had feasts. Does this mean then, that Christians should not eat? The pagans sang and danced unto their false gods. Does this mean then that it was pagan of King David to dance unto the Lord when Linkhe was celebrating the returning of the ark of the covenant?
Janice Moore writes a review from the non-Catholic perspective pointing out some of the many errors in The Two Babylons:

Before going further, let me state clearly now that I am not about to repudiate all of The Two Babylons as fruitless. However, as this website has grown it has come to my attention, that perhaps this book has been put on an undeserved pedestal. There are questions that should be and need to be answered. Again to clarify myself, I feel strongly that many of the formal doctrines and practices of the Catholic Church are not Biblical. But, the question addressed here; was Hislop right about every point he so vehemently argued?

More and more it is coming to my attention that it is time for the subject of the origins of religions and beliefs as they have come down to the present to be reexamined from a more Biblical perspective. The Two Babylons is not the exhaustive work on the subject that many have for decades been so willing to believe. At best it is but the starting ground. At worst, because Hislop's language and the press his book has received over the years have given it more influence than it merits, it has served as a stumbling block to those who found comfort in its authoritarian air and looked no further.
One of the points that Candy makes in most of her articles on Catholicism is that when Catholics allegedly worship Mary, they are really worshiping the Babylonian goddess Semaris. Janice Moore has this to say on that claim:

Also, the author of The Babylon Connection?, points out that the identity of a woman named Semiramis being the wife of Nimrod is questionable; as I have found out in my own research of ancient history and legend to develop the story lines of my own fictional stories. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia (Knight), Sammuramat was the wife of Adad-nirari III (812 to 783 B.C) who reigned during the time Jehoahaz was king of Israel. According to The Oxford Classical Dictionary:

"Semiramis in history was Sammu-ramat, wife of Shamshi-Adad V of *Assyria, mother of Adad-nirari III, with whom she campaigned against *Commagene in 805 BC. Her inscribed stelae of kings and high officials in Assur. In Greek legend, she was the daughter of the Syrian goddess Derceto at Ascalon, wife of Onnes (probably the first Sumerian sage Oannes) and then of Ninos, eponymous king of *Nineveh; she conquered '*Bactria' and built' '*Babylon' ( *Berossus denied this). In Armenian legend, she conquered *Armenia (ancient *Uratu), built a palace and waterworks, and left inscriptions."
W. Schramm. Historia 1972, 513-21; F.W. Konig, Die Persika des Ktesias von Knidos, Archiv fur Orientforschung Beiheft 18 (1972), 37-40; V. Donbaz, Annual Review of the Royal Inscriptions of Mesopotamia Project (1990), 5-10; Moses Khorenats'I, History of the Armenians, ed, R.W. Thomson (1978), 93-104; (Hornblower, 1383)

In this entry Sammuramat is named as the wife of the father of Adad-nirari III, the earlier reference claims her as the wife of his son. Either way the dates involved are much too late for her to have been the wife of the Biblical Nimrod. And here lies the crux of the problem, for much of Hislop's notions on ancient Babel hinges on this one point, as witnessed by the full title of the book, The Two Babylons Or The Papal Worship: Proved To Be The Worship Of Nimrod and His Wife.

There is speculation that perhaps there was an earlier Semiramis, but at this point I have not been able to even establish if Sammuramat and Semiramis are indeed the same name, one being the Assyrian form and the latter being the Greek equivalent. The truth seems to be that the name Sammuramat "…is the only Assyrian or Babylonian name discovered so far having any phonetic resemblance to that of the famous legendary queen, Semiramis." Therefore, though the two names are often cited as being interchangeable (Ann, 347; Foryan; Self), that would not seem to constitute solid proof.


For a Catholic rebuttal of The Two Babylons, try Catholicism and Paganism:

I came across a review of Hislop's book, written by a non-Catholic author shortly after the second edition was published, and I think it provides a good summary of things. It is from The Saturday Review, September 17, 1859:

"In the first place, his whole superstructure is raised upon nothing. Our earliest authority for the history of Semiramis wrote about the commencement of the Christian era, and the historian from whom he drew his information lived from fifteen hundred to two thousand years after the date which Mr. Hislop assigns to the great Assyrian Queen. The most lying legend which the Vatican has ever endorsed stands on better authority than the history which is now made the ground of a charge against it.
"Secondly, the whole argument proceeds upon the assumption that all heathenism has a common origin. Accidental resemblance in mythological details are taken as evidence of this, and nothing is allowed for the natural working of the human mind.
"Thirdly, Mr. Hislop's reasoning would make anything of anything. By the aid of obscure passages in third-rate historians, groundless assumptions of identity, and etymological torturing of roots, all that we know, and all that we believe, may be converted ... into something totally different.
"Fourthly, Mr. Hislop's argument proves too much. He finds not only the corruptions of Popery, but the fundamental articles of the Christian Faith, in his hypothetical Babylonian system...
"We take leave of Mr. Hislop and his work with the remark that we never before quite knew the folly of which ignorant or half-learned bigotry is capable."

Jimmy Akin also wrote an article about The Two Babylons in This Rock magazine:

Recently one of my coworkers asked me how to respond to a couple of panels from a Hislop-influenced tract by vehement anti-Catholic Jack Chick. The tract is titled Are Roman Catholics Christians? (You can guess his answer.) The first panel bears the image of a grim-faced Egyptian with a mascara problem (see above left). The text reads, "In ancient Babylon, they worshipped the sun god, 'Baal.' Then this religion moved into Egypt using different names."

I couldn't keep from grinning as I explained the problems with this panel. In ancient Babylon, the sun god they worshiped was Shamash. Baal was neither a Babylonian deity nor the sun god. In fact, he was the Canaanite storm god. Further, the idea that the religion of Babylon started off in Mesopotamia, crossed the Levant, where Palestine is, and then became the Egyptian religion is simply absurd. Egypt, like Mesopotamia, was one of the cradles of civilization, with its own history and its own religion.


Another of Candy's favorite characters from The Two Babylons is Dagon, the fish god. Take The Long Way Home wrote about him a while back:

Here’s the main problem with researching Dagon. There’s just not much out there! Not much is known. I couldn’t find anything, nothing at all, that described the worship of Dagon. The reason for this is that his worship died out so long ago. The very latest dates I could find for anyone worshiping Dagon was in 402 AD (and this is only if you buy the idea that the Greeks were worshiping Dagon as Marnas. And did you notice who sent the worshipers of Marnas packing? It was the Christians who destroyed the last vestiges of Marnas worship. It’s hard for me to believe they destroyed the temple, then incorporated the religion into Christianity, without any historical evidence to back it up!). Most of his followers were gone by the advent of Jesus!

Sooooo. Essentially, what I learned was, nobody (at least nobody in the historical world) knows much about Dagon. Historians can’t even decide what he was the god of, much less how he was depicted. Depending on which city you lived in, you probably worshiped him differently. His religion died out in the BC years for the most part, although it’s possible there were a few hangers on as late as 402 AD. But the mitre doesn’t appear until the mid 10th century. And then there’s the problem that the mitre itself has gone through many stages, most of which don’t look anything like the representation that the anti Catholics claim to be identical to the fish head of Dagon’s priests. And then there is the fact that an entire sect of Catholicism (the Eastern Rite Catholics) don’t wear the Western style mitre to this day. So to believe what the anti Catholics have to say you have to believe that Western Christians resurrected a long dead religion (one that they themselves helped to stamp out the last vestiges of) sometime in the 15th century (that’s when the mitre most closely resembles the one today). This would be after the Protestant Reformation, by the way. Who would believe this???

Hislop's Two Babylons was a big influence on Jack Chick and Dave Hunt, two more of Candy's favorite authors. We have already written about both of them. Just click on their names to see those articles.

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11 comments:

Jennie said...

I'm familiar with this topic, having seen many of the arguments used from Hislop's book, and also have read online some of Ralph Woodrow's recantation of his book based on Hislop.
I agree with Janice Moore's statement:
"Before going further, let me state clearly now that I am not about to repudiate all of The Two Babylons as fruitless. However, as this website has grown it has come to my attention, that perhaps this book has been put on an undeserved pedestal. There are questions that should be and need to be answered. Again to clarify myself, I feel strongly that many of the formal doctrines and practices of the Catholic Church are not Biblical. But, the question addressed here; was Hislop right about every point he so vehemently argued?"

and: "More and more it is coming to my attention that it is time for the subject of the origins of religions and beliefs as they have come down to the present to be reexamined from a more Biblical perspective. The Two Babylons is not the exhaustive work on the subject that many have for decades been so willing to believe. At best it is but the starting ground. At worst, because Hislop's language and the press his book has received over the years have given it more influence than it merits, it has served as a stumbling block to those who found comfort in its authoritarian air and looked no further."
I feel that Hislop has been a 'stumbling block' to people, because those who disagree with his basic premise of pagan influences in the church see his false or inaccurate or unsupported information and then feel they can disregard the whole idea; and those who tend to agree with him have taken him at face value and 'learned' things that aren't really true, or are only partially true. I definitely hope some scholars will take this up and find out the truth using accurate and supportable arguments.

Elena said...

I definitely hope some scholars will take this up and find out the truth using accurate and supportable arguments.

Well there are but since they're Catholic researches and scholars i doubt they would hold much credit with you or Candy.

Grace said...

Sad and trepid times we live in .... scores of people are now being led along the road ecumenical road back to her mother the Church of Rome. And not only is this semi-pelagian “Love Train” heading in the opposite direction away from the Protestant Reformation they actually want to completely undo that return to the historic orthodox Christian faith and to Biblical authority aka sola Scriptura.

But questions should arise for the discerning Christian: Have the Deceivers from the Church of Rome really changed? Or are evangelical Protestants about to follow these seducing spirits right back into the blind bondage of Roman Catholic doctrines of demons? A thorough examination of the Church of Rome will reveal why this proves an apt title. In our generation we haven’t really been able to see the full deception yet, because just as the frog wouldn’t notice the temperature of the water in a pot slowly rising until he would end up boiling to death, so we Christians in America didn’t notice just how worldly evangelicalism was becoming.

http://apprising.org/2008/09/the-deceivers-of-roman-catholicism/

Elena said...

Yawn... so Grace... do you have any original comments or just what you've copied from that web site?

Grace said...

Yes I do - I think it is tragic that so many people are being deceived into following the RC church.

It shows the weakness of people's faith and apologetics when they can listen/read the twisting of the Scripture and history and believe it.

Of course, I understand why you might not like that website - it is by a Christian researcher - not a Catholic.

Elena said...

You're entitled to your opinion.

I won't debate the writer is "Christian." "researcher" is debatable.

Grace said...

just as i thought. As long as the opinion agrees with yours, you will engage. Otherwise, you blow off the comment and act like you're too bored to bothered.

Grace said...

And...Ken Silva is a very reputable teacher and writer. He is a former RC, also.

He is not Jack Chick or Hislop or any less than reputable people that get dragged on to blogs.

Elena said...

1. I don't engage comments that are off topic and don't address specifically the topic of the thread they are attached to.

2. It's not like I haven't "engaged" folks with your perspective before - ad nauseum.

3. You are welcome here Grace - please review the commenting guidelines in the side bar. Further off-topic remarks will be deleted.

Dr MikeyMike said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dragonblaze said...

The Two Babylons is a thoroughly flawed work. In part, Hislop can be excused as regards his fragmentary knowledge of ancient Mesopotamia, as Assyriology was taking its first baby steps. Modern adherents have no such excuse.

Hislop makes several linguistic blunders, such as claiming that circle in Akkadian (which he calls 'Chaldee') is zero. The real Akkadian word for circle would be kippatu. He actually manages to get the Akkadian word for seed, zer, correct. That does not save his claim that the name of the pagan Anglo-Saxon deity Zernebogus comes from Akkadian zer, being, according to Hislop "almost pure Chaldee, and seems to unfold itself as denoting "The seed of the prophet Cush." This is so wrong it is not even funny. The Anglo-Saxons never had a god of this name, as it is Hislop's mangling of the name of the Slavonic god Chernobog, which can be translated as The Black God - being perfectly understandable to anyone who speaks a Slavic language. The rest of his etymologies are just as bogus as the above example.

I do not have the time to rip the rest of his linguistic and historical monstrosities apart, but I hope the above example will suffice. If need be, I'll comment more.

As for my credentials, I have studied Assyriology and am familiar with both Akkadian language and Mesopotamian culture.