Wednesday, September 11, 2013

It's not a coincidence

Ride the Lightning
It's just stupid and evil:
[A]n eerily odd correlation between the president of the United States and 2,000-year-old biblical texts has many scholars scratching their collective heads.

Luke writes in chapter 10, verse 18 that Jesus said: “I saw Satan ‘fall like lightning.’ The Hebrew translation is “baraq o bamah,” according to Strong’s Concordance word numbers 1299 and 1116.

According to some biblical and literary scholars, Jesus’ own words could, in my opinion, have been: “I saw Satan as Barack Obama fall from the heavens.”

Having been a student of all things “end times” for 40 years, many other characteristics are associated to the antichrist as he is conveyed in the Bible, to be sure.

Still, it is difficult to ignore the uncanny similarity no matter who you are.
40 years or not, our author here is neither a good student nor a good witness.*

The actual argument from Luke 10:18 goes something like this:

1. Luke 10:18 reads, "And [Jesus] said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven."
2. Jesus probably spoke Aramaic.
3. Aramaic is descended from ancient Hebrew.
4. In Hebrew, the word for lightning is baraq (Strong's 1299).
5. Heaven doesn't always mean God's home, in this case it means a high place.
6. Isaiah in 14:14 talks about Satan's vow to ascend to the "heights"
7. The "heights" in ISA 14:14 is bamah (Strong's 1116).
8. You could connect the concepts of baraq and bamah by joining them with an o, giving you "Lightning from Heaven" as "baraq o bamah," which kind of sounds like Barack Obama.
9. Therefore, Jesus might have named Barack Obama as the Antichrist.

There are a couple problems with that, as you might imagine.

The first is that we don't know what language Jesus spoke these particular words in.  He knew Aramaic, but he also knew regular old Hebrew.  He might have even known Greek, given his conversations with Gentiles, especially in Luke. He might have used baraq for lightning, or not. He might have used bamah for "heights" or not.  It is simple speculation. I don't mean that as a compliment.

The second is that even if Jesus used the very words mentioned, they could not possibly be interpreted as "I saw Satan as Barack Obama fall from the heavens."  They would be, at best, "I saw Satan as baraq fall from bamah."  If bamah is "heavens or high places" then both cannot appear in the sentence.

The third problem is that baraq** and Barack are entirely different words: b-r-q and b-r-k (the original Hebrew has no vowels). Though q and k sound the same in English, they are different in Hebrew. Barack's name comes from Barak (Strong's 1288), which means to kneel, to bless God.

The fourth is that the words do not appear together in the verse, are not a name, and there is no o*** - giving absolutely no reason to join them together except to intimate that Obama is the antichrist. If we want to get technical, that probably counts as "bearing false witness."

The fifth is that the Hebrew translation of Luke 10:18 does not use any of these words. It transliterates as “Ra’iti et HaSatan nophel k’varak min hashamayim.”  k'varak here is "like lightning," - another possible word for Jesus to have used - while hashamayim is "heaven." The latter is translated so because of the Greek word ouranou, which they interpret as God's home as opposed to a high place. This is not conclusive by any means - it's a translation from the Greek, after all - but it does underscore the weakness of the author's case since not one of the very important words baraq or o or bamah appear in the Hebrew translation, contrary to his claim. His case would be massively improved if he could provide a single, pre-2000 Hebrew translation that uses baraq o bamah, but alas, no such claim is in evidence.

But the main problem is that this kind of weasely "study" of the scripture pisses me off to no end. It's not just careless, it's filled with guesses, misrepresentations, and lies. As Newton noted long ago, this sort of mishandling of scripture does not just expose the speaker to earned ridicule, but it brings the very words of Jesus into disrepute.  It gives the world a reason to pour derision upon the Bible and upon the Lord.**** It makes it harder, not easier, to reach people with Jesus' message.

People are often their own worst enemies, and from this propensity Christians are not immune. But we had better be very, very careful that in our pursuit of political gain or playing prophet we are not making ourselves into enemies of Christ. For he said, "Woe to you experts in the law, because you have taken away the key to knowledge. You yourselves have not entered, and you have hindered those who were entering.”

If you're a Christian who is taking away the key to knowledge by muddying the scriptures, then you've got a lot more to worry about than who is the Antichrist.

* I hate to use the phrase "Lying for Jesus," but there it is. 
** Bonus error: (1299) is a verb, not a noun.  It does not mean lightning, but to cast forth, to throw lightning.  Strong's 1300, baraq (noun) can mean lightning, glittering, gleaming.
*** In the original presentation of this argument the narrator of the youtube video linked above introduced the Hebrew letter Waw (also Vau), transliterated U or occasionally O, as a conjunction that could be used to join baraq and bamah.  It has since been dropped from the vid completely and without explanation (I suspect a real scholar got ahold of it). But still appears, now without support of any kind, in the letter.
**** Maybe they will anyway, but it makes little sense for Christians to make that seem act just and reasonable.


Anonymous said...

Scripture or no, you can still buy a pistol called the Barak purely for the irony.

Metal Dad said...

bad theology leads to bad conclusions

bw said...

trained to believe in false premise/conclusion then theologicalisize backwards to protect the failed ego

because theologicaling.

Anonymous said...

So what is the difference between SH1288 and SH1299? I see the same pronunciation between the 2 words here. Which one is correct? And would the english translation be losing the sounds of the "q" and "k"? You would think that just because Jesus spoke different languages to talk with people, that His disciples were mainly Hebrew speakers and writers. Confused!