Quackarya S
vs.
Sheila Rangslinger

Well, hi, everyone! This is Sheila Rangslinger and this is my review of The Christ Conspiracy by Acharya S. It's published by "Adventures Unlimited," (1999) not exactly Harper and Row, or Yale University Press, but at least they know where to buy ink; and when you're done with it, you can buy the ones listed in the back on time travel and Atlantis. Maybe even one on how to get to MY world, huh?

Let me tell you -- Acharya piles on the professed credentials like they would disappear if she didn't say them in a hurry: "...archaeologist, historian, mythologist, and linguist." Whoa! They forgot con artist, amateur logician, angry and irrational person, and also QUACK. That's right. "Quackarya" S is a better name for her; and The Christ Conspiracy is a tedious, boring compilation of some of the silliest arguments, some of the broadest and vaguest generalizations, drawn from some of the most outdated and unreliable sources, that I've ever seen in my life. Take this to start -- I mean, you take it, I'm gonna hold my nose:

Although many people believe religion to be a good and necessary thing, no ideology is more divisive than religion, which rends humanity in a number of ways through extreme racism, sexism, and even speciesism. Religion, in fact, is dependent on division, because it requires an enemy, whether it be earthly or in another dimension. Religion dictates that some people are special or chosen while others are immoral or evil, and it too often insists that it is the duty of the "chosen" to destroy the others. And organized religion puts a face on the divine itself that is sectarian, sexist, and racist, portraying a male god of a particular ethnicity, for example. (1)

Ha! This begins Quackarya's shreik against religious belief...standard stuff from those whose hatred of all things religious has caused them to dispose of their critical-thinking capability! Is religion divisive? Of course it is--but since when is causing division a universal evil? Don't we want to divide truth from falsity? Is an enemy required? Of course, since religious belief tends to present the thesis that there is a problem that needs solving; the real question is whether the enemy is real or a phantom. Is religion murderous, sectarian, sexist, racist? Sometimes it is, sometimes it is not; the question is whether a given religion teaches what is true; then, whether adherents to that religion follow it truly, or whether they make excuses to justify their actions and draw upon their religious beliefs for the sake of cheaply usurping authority. The tired example of the Crusades (and countless others used by Quackarya and her sources) leads me to ask the question: Where is it said in the Bible, in the teachings of Christ, the orthodox Christian faith, that the Crusaders had a mandate to retake Jerusalem? In some cases, of course, a religious belief directly leads to disaster: Hindu belief, for example, has resulted in an India that is impoverished and filled with suffering. But unless it is shown that the disastrous, unjust element is the result of a given religious belief--unless a specific, logical cause-and-effect relationship is demonstrated--screeds like Quackarya's are nothin' but meaningless prattle. They prove nothin' other than that religion can be misused; if we did not have religion to misuse, we would turn instead to politics. Religion is more often the excuse for man's inhumanity than it is the cause of it, and if Quackarya is so caught up in her "empathy" for the suffering that she cannot reason this out, then that's just too bad. Some of us let our minds rule our lives rather than our hearts.

Quackarya doesn't bother with much showing a cause-and-effect or logical relationship between religion and disaster. I'd ask, what about the fact that atheistic communism has caused more deaths than all religious crusades of any sort combined? Quackarya has an answer, but it only demonstrates her inability to think when sitting right side up: "...(F)ew realize or acknowledge that the originators of Communism were Jewish (Marx, Lenin, Hess, Trotsky) and that the most overtly violent leaders were Roman Catholic (Hitler, Mussolini, Franco) or Eastern Orthodox Christian (Stalin), despotic and intolerant ideologies that breed fascistic dictators. In other words, these movements were not 'atheistic,' as religionists maintain." (2) Huh! That none of the named heroes of Communism/Catholicism practiced their Judaism/Catholicism is not mentioned or proved (much less is it shown that Judaism provided the support for their ideologies and actions); that Stalin was merely a seminary student, hardly a professing believer in Orthodox religion, is not mentioned. Just doin' "guilt by association" doesn't do the job. I'd demand a demonstrated, logical connection between some religious belief and some atrocity. (And hey, to say that the ideologies "bred" dictators is to ignore the simple fact that the odds are overwhelming, given the religious nature of your people, that wherever a dictator came from, he was bound to have had some religious upbringing of some sort; and that only 4 supposed Jews out of literally billions in history can be named, and only 3 supposed Roman Catholics out of billions, far from suggests that these religions are "breeding grounds" for dictators...there have not been enough dictators in history to create a good sample!) Bottom line: Quackarya so far makes no differentiation between holding or claiming an ideology and living it. And that's bad.

Not that no attempt is made to do so, with respect to Christianity. Quackarya cites Matthew 10:34-6; for a response, see here. Beyond this, all that Quackarya can do is pull out all the usual verses speaking of men delivered unto Satan (1 Tim. 1:20) and being damned (Jude 7)--not once answering the question of whether the condemnations are deserved. The operational assumption is simply, "All violence is wrong; all pain undeserved." This is far from true, of course, and I'd say it's proven in that anyone who willingly picks up The Christ Conspiracy deserves the ennui that follows. Simply trotting out emotionalism ain't gonna cut it.

Quackarya next talks about martyrdoms. Yeah, certain views of martyrdom are extreme caricatures, but Quackarya isn't up on the importance of such evidence. Go here and here for further details, which I challenge Quackarya to refute. (By the way, Tacitus' reference to Christian martyrs is dismissed as a forgery; more on that later. An editor of Eusebius' History of the Church is quoted as saying that until 250 AD, "there had been no persecution of Christians ordered by the Emperor on an imperial scale"--which is true, but there were persecutions ordered on a sub-imperial scale, as history shows.)

Quackarya's next bone to pick involves what she calls "The Myth of the Rapid Spread of Christianity." Who spreads this myth, I dunno. Quackarya seems to be attacking a straw man; she provides no quotes from any scholarly source that promotes the idea. The true picture of Christianity's early growth, and unusual adherence among the intelligent, literate classes is detailed in Stark's The Rise of Christianity and Meeks' The First Urban Christians, and I gotta wonder whether Quackarya has the temerity to take on those particular writers and their conclusions.

Following this are a number of anecdotes about barbaric "Christian" crusaders and warriors--once again, with nuttin' in the way of an attempt to show a logical cause-and-effect relationship between actual Christian doctrine and these actions. One bit that does stick out is the tale of a pagan king named Radbod who was told that his ancestors were suffering in hell. To this Radbod replied, "How dare you say my ancestors have gone to hell? I would rather--yes, by their god, the great Woden, I swear--I would ten thousand times rather join those heroes in their hell, than be with you in your heaven of priests!" (8) Cute story--and while I'd give the priest in question a D for his unsophisticated answer to the question of the salvation of the unevangelized, I give Radbod an F for his own reaction. It's nuttin' but emotion, through and through; to use it, nothing more than emotional manipulation. Presumably Quackarya wants you Christians to feel all bad and ashamed for believing such an intolerant thing. I don't--what I see here is the same old "ha, ha, no big deal" approach to sin that we see time and time again from the doubters. Ha! God's holiness is meaningless to such people; His rules mean nothing to them; but let their toe get stubbed, and watch them cry out and ask why God does not interfere. Radbod's outrage, and those of moderns like Quackarya, is the product of hypocrisy, and an inability to take a longer view of what truly matters for the sake of obsessing over pain or inconvenience in the here and now.

Quackarya's first chapter closes with the usual junk about forced conversions, tortures, and the Dark Ages. Maybe this material is true and perhaps not--it really makes no diff. Abuses of a given system of thought do not constitute disproof of that system. Confucianism does not become less valid simply because a horde of Confucians rob a bank in the name of their master. Bottom line: Quackarya has set her stage well, bringing forth first that which is most guaranteed to inflict upon the emotions. Beyond the gross manipulation there's a grosser attempt to scholarship, and that's the next thing on my list.

Quackarya's second chapter is apparently intended to be some sort of introduction to the quest for the historical Jesus. Ben Witherington's Jesus Quest, it ain't. Quackarya notes that (13):

During the political upheavals of the 20th century, Jesus was considered a heroic revolutionary striving against oppression, as well as a communist. When various Indian gurus and yogis with their magic tricks became famous, it was fashionable to locate Jesus in India and/or Tibet. At that time too was the psychadelic explosion, such that Jesus soon became a magic mushroom...He has also of late become a black, a while supremacist, a gay, a woman, a heretic, a "Mediterranean peasant," an orthodox butcher whose name wasn't Jesus, a "Cynic-sage," (sic) and Arab, as well as the husband of Mary Magdelene and father of many children from whom are descended at least one European royal family (and)...an alien with extraordinary powers because he is of a superior race...

To this she adds the quote of Wells that Jesus has been a magician, a Galilean rabbi, a marginal Jew, a bastard, a Qumran dissident, et al., ad nauseaum...well, fine: So what is the point of this as far as Quackarya is concerned? There really isn't a point made, but first, it's clear that many of these "views" are simply cases of scholars who needed something new to say emphasizing one aspect of a complex person over all other aspects. The real Jesus would qualify as a rabbi, a marginal Jew, and a number of other things that aren't incompatible with one another. The number of books you guys have about Jesus is so great that in order to say something new, you have to go way out there: If you don't think what that's true, try a parallel: Start reading one of the literally thousands of books about Hitler and see him variously portrayed as a statesman, a practitioner of the occult, a misunderstood genius, a psychological wreck, a sexual maniac, an anti-Semite. Some of these biographies have true insights; others are garbage. All these prove is that authors need to say something new or radical to get published. All the rest proves is that everyone wants the authority of Jesus on their side, by hook or by crook. To simply list these views uncritically--to place Meier's magesterial, highly technical, detailed, and scholarly Marginal Jew side-by-side with Schaberg's feminist, gossip-mongering speculation piece proposing that Jesus was the product of a rape is just plain evidence of a lack of critical thinking. The diversity of views proves nothing about the reality.

Not that Quackarya draws any direct conclusions. After all of this listing, she tells us that "the most enduring and profound controversy in this subject is whether or not a person named Jesus Christ ever really existed." (14) Enduring? Something that began, as Quackarya admits, only two of your centuries ago, couldn't have the mileage to be described as "enduring." Profound? Profound to whom? Maybe to those who know no better. Really there's nuttin' profound or complicated about the Christ-myth thesis; it's the uneducated chasing dreams and the product of people not trained in the study of history and literature making ridiculous statements about history and literature. Quackarya offers nothing to disprove this point.

Oh yeah: On Ian Wilson's Jesus: The Evidence, Quackarya calls it "(a)n attempt to repudiate Wells," "an entire (slim) volume written to establish that Jesus did exist." From this Quackarya says, "It should be noted that no such book would be needed if the existence of Jesus Christ as a historical figure were a proven fact accepted by all." (14) Well, to begin, Wilson's book has almost nothing to do with Wells. He's dismissed in a footnote as one not to be taken seriously; the book is actually a presentation and evaluation of evidence of all sorts having to do with Jesus, not particularly slim (in contrast, Christ-myth literature is described as "an impressive volume of literature" that has been "hidden, suppressed, or ignored"--in truth, in volume the literature is minuscule, especially compared to scholarly works on NT studies, and if it has been ignored, it is because it has earned the right to be, having come from the pens of the likes of kidney specialists and professors of German who have no qualifications in the field, as their work shows), and the question of historicity only comes up in that brush-off of Wells. And, to say that "no such book would be needed" sets up a false premise that the any book that is published is "needed" in the sense that, "it can't be done without by anyone, because intelligent people believe the opposing view." What this really proves is that better education and critical-thinking skills are needed, not that a book against the Christ-myth per se is needed. Ya may as well say that there would be "no need" for books against the existence of Atlantis or UFOs (tell that to Prometheus Press). The argument is befuddled; also Quackarya's assertion that "it is not uncommon to hear in a discussion about Jesus" a statement like, "Don't get me wrong--I believe he existed," which Quackarya believes proves that there is substantial grounds for the Christ-myth. Huh? It's not uncommon? I ain't heard it once, not from the Secular Web; not on the street; not from anyone. Mebbe Quackarya has been repeating the phrase to herself in the mirror, or in conversations with the aliens. Whatever, it proves nothing.

Quackarya goes on to divide belief about the Christ-myth into three camps. The first group, she says, are "the believers," people who "take the Judeo-Christian bible as the literal 'Word of God,' 'accepting on faith' that everything contained within it is historical fact infallibly written by scribes 'inspired by God.'" This view, she says, requires "blind and unscientific devotion" and requires being oblivious to the fact that the Bible is "riddled with inconsistencies, contradictions, errors and yarns that stretch the credulity (sic) to the point of non-existence." (15) That's the word from the Peanut Gallery; but if Quackarya ever wants to get down with the scholarship, she has plenty to do. Then there's some palaver about the NT supposedly viewing the Jews as universally bad; only an uncritical reader with no knowledge of ancient polemical techniques could say such a thing...for a brief intro, see here and here...and some blather about atonement which we has been answered in a reply to a critic of atonement theory...and then some bigotry about God sending his messenger to "a remote area of the ancient world" and sending it in "the increasingly obscure language of Aramaic, as opposed to the more universally spoken Greek or Latin." Hey, c'mon! Palestine wasn't Nullabor; it was a major trade route stop between three continents; despite Quackarya's hayseed bigotry, it was the best place to start the distribution...and let's remind our supposed "archaeologist, historian, mythologist and linguist" that Greek was the lingua franca of the day, and it hardly required any effort to translate the Aramaic into Greek, which is the language of the NT, especially since there were a number of people, like Matthew and Paul, who would be proficient in both languages.)

Quackarya's second category she calls the "evemerists"--people who are not believers, but do believe in a historical Jesus; although we are told that this is an opinion based on the fact that it is commonly held, not because its proponents have studied the matter or seen "clear evidence to that effect." It is all, Quackarya sez, the result of "mental programming." (16) Huh! I'd like to see this "archaeologist, historian..." etc. get up before the annual meeting of whatever passes for an international society of professional ancient historians and tell them how they have all been "mentally programmed" to believe in Jesus as a person who existed. I bet they would appreciate being told that they are victims of a conspiracy and brainwashing and that all of their objective historical work and training is meaningless! Tell it the atheist Morton Smith! It's just a guess, but do ya think they have actually done careful historical work and that Quackarya is the one with the problem? If one of these folks gets their thesis recognized by a refereed professional publication like The Journal of Roman Studies, then maybe they can get some attention. As it is, the best they can do is say that all the historians out there are either stupid or in on the conspiracy, too. About all we can agree upon is that some of the theories out there (usually postulated, again, not by historians, but by non-experts by Wells) are plainly ridiculous (like the "Jesus as revolutionist" theory of Carmichael; see here for details). Quackarya also pulls in a complaint that Jesus was "completely overlooked by the dozens of historians of his day, an era considered to be one of the best documented in history." (19) Who says this, I dunno, but they probably wear a coat with long, white sleeves. See here and here for a response..."dozens" of historians? Quackarya must count from 1 to 24 without the numbers in between.

Finally, Quackarya gives us the class of the mythicists, a group that "began to flourish starting a few hundred years ago" (actually only 200) and "propelled by archaeological and linguistical discoveries" (which have since been better understood and analyzed by scholars who know what they are talking about, although Quackarya doesn't know this). Quackarya also manages to confuse the belief of docetism with the Christ-myth thesis; this, to try and give her favorite theory a pedigree, but sorry, docetism was of a different Addams family: That bunch said that the Jesus that walked around was a sort of illusion that only seemed to be a real human. That's not really compatible with the mtyhicist position, since docetism would say that the events in the NT did happen, we just don't understand the nature of the one with whom the events were concerned. At any rate, we're told that believers and evemerists alike have "either willfully and unreasonably ignored the great minds of the mythicist school or have never come across them"--actually, many have come across them, and they ignore them for a reason: because the mythicists do sloppy historical work. Why should the nuclear physicist be bothered with the plumber who claims that he has produced cold fusion in his bathtub at home using only a hanger and some string? Quackarya really has to claim this sort of thing, though, because it won't do to acknowledge that the work of the mythicists is sloppy; and if you say otherwise, you are part of the brainwashed masses as well: as we are told, "the works of the mythicists have not been made readily available to the public, no doubt fearfully suppressed because they are somewhat irrefutable..." Nice psycho-manip, but if they were suppressed, how did Quackarya get copies? Did she have to endure torture to secret them out of a mountain fortress run by crazed professional historians? Nice try--but the work of the mythicists has died for one reason alone, and that is because their work is sloppy and unprofessional, and no one wanted to read it once it was found out how poorly-composed it was.

Quackarya closes this chapter by responding in two paragraphs to the point that the pagan origins of the gospels have been made too much of and need to be shelved in favor of the Jewish elements, which in turn add proof of historicity. Quackarya has the answer: "anyone can interpolate quasi-historical data into a fictional story," so there. In other words, it's another conspiracy, you dummy. And anyway, those Jewish elements are often wrong, so she says; although we are given no specific examples here; we'll see some later, and they will be the usual nonsense like Mark 7:31 being a geographical error (39). Ho hum...if you have made it this far through Quackarya's book, you have remarkable fortitude and I recommend you to a career in daycare management, or watching paint dry. Inevitably, with the Christ-mythers, there is a bugaboo behind every rock trying to fool us; and that's the thesis of Quackarya's next chapter as well.

Quackarya's third and fourth chapter allege that "Christianity's history is rife with forgery and fraud" (24)...a broad brush, yeah; your history is "rife" with such things; why should anyone be surprised? But, quoting Tertullian and Augustine as saying that they believed the Gospels only because the church said so, or because they found the gospels unbelievable, proves absolutely nothing. They were out of their time; they were not first-century Jews, and they came out of pagan backgrounds that affected their thinking. The NT itself does not encourage anyone to believe it because it is incredible.

I recommendg, against Quackarya's charge, Glenn Miller's essay on pseudox, a work of detailed scholarship that would have Quackarya's poor head spinning before she could turn around twice. There is the usual bit about authorship and dates of the gospels that has been answered elsewhere; the usual claims of conspiracy and reworking of the texts without any hard textual-critical evidence; the usual resorts to calling the Church Fathers idiots (many were, but the percentage is no greater than today), and hosts of quotes from fellow Christ-mythers supporting the weak reed; the usual about the canon answered elsewhere; the usual Doherty-claim about lack of details about Jesus in the NT episles that we have answered in our series against Doherty (no real reply as yet); an uncritical reference to fellow Christ-myther/non-scholar Hayyim ben Yehoshua, who says that all of Paul's letters are to be dated after 100 AD and weren't written by Paul, offering only the evidence that 1 Timothy mentions Marcion's book Antithesis (1 Tim. 6:20--golly, the word is actually a combination of the prefix anti-, and the word tithemi, which is used almost 100 times in the NT, and thus proves nothing; it is also a word that "was used in rhetoric for an element of argumentation" and so had a common use that requires no connection to Marcion -- Summey, Other Opponents of Paul, 263-) along with a vague and unsupported observation that Paul's epistles "appear to have been altered or edited numerous times" (textual-critical evidence? what's that?). Marcion is given credit for being the true originator of the NT, although proof is by suggestion of conspiracy rather than by argument or by hard evidence, with the odd add-in that has long been ousted from professional ranks of scholarship--for example, the idea that Nazareth didn't exist in the first century. Here are the few actual, unusual arguments we get:

No sooner is C. Dennis McKinsey polishing it again when JP must pass off the "Worst Treatment of Secular References" Award to someone else...and Quackarya gets it on her mantlepiece this time. JP spent almost 60 pages on this topic; Quackarya spends: 5 and a quarter. And that 5 1/4 is packed with all of the usual mistakes, and some outrightly shameful nonsense, as well. The Roman Livy had 142 books of history, of which we now have very few; this is because, we are told, the other volumes were destroyed "by the conspirators trying to cover their tracks." (49) Really, now, what conspirators were these? And how do we know what they destroyed was relevant? Chances are that Livy's histories disappeared for the same reason that millions of Roman military pay-slips disappeared: No one bothered to keep them. There is the usual blather about Philo not mentioning Jesus, which we have dealt with elsewhere; there is a complaint that Jesus is not mentioned by Plutarch (with no indication of why he should have been, much less any acknowledgement of the social factors listed by Meier indicating why Jesus would not be mentioned by someone like Plutrach).

Josephus' cites are dismissed as mere forgeries (including the one with John the Baptist!) merely because "scholars and Christian apologists alike" have regarded them as such, though we are given no names of such scholars, only two other Christ-mythers, two 19th-century writers, and a writer from the 18th century--much less are any critical evaluations of arguments offered. Pliny is dismissed with the 19th-century excuse that Pliny's letters are forgeries, a position held by no reputable scholar of Greco-Roman history today, although just in case, we are told that those nasty conspirators may have changed Pliny's reference, which may have originally been to the Essenes...although what that rural, antagonistically-Jewish Dead Sea community was doing with members in the middle of an urban, Gentile nation several hundred miles from home, we are not told. Tacitus is also dismissed as a forgery, based on the work of yet another scholar of the 19th century whose work has long been dismissed by Tacitean and Greco-Roman scholars. Quackarya has truly done the job of taking out the garbage on the secular references. I'll issue the usual challenge to refute this material, though I doubt Quackarya could succeed where even G. A. Wells has failed.

The next chapter purports to offer "further evidence of a fraud," although what it turns out to be is statements by early Fathers of the church trying to claim antiquity for Christian concepts (in accord, as shown elsewhere, with what they would need to do at the time), such as rules of conduct and moral principles, and interpreting them to mean that Christian religion was borrowed from pagan sources. These "admissions," as Quackarya calls them, are quite far from saying that Christianity was borrowed from India, Mithraism, or what have you; the point made in such writings is that the pagans had no grounds to mock particulars of the Christian religion, since they had similar religious concepts they accepted as valid. There is quite a difference between saying that A looks like B and saying that A was derived from B, and a much further travail to prove any sort of link beyond a presumed conspiracy.

Also thrown in the mix is a quote we've all seen before from Pope Leo X. This fellow lived in the 1500s and said (so we are told), "What profit has not that fable of Christ brought us!" Of course only the vastly uncritical could suppose that an offhand comment by someone living 1500 years after the fact could erase entirely the findings of both Christian and secular historical scholarship. Just throw out all those books, boys; Pope Leo says we don't need them. Quackarya tries to beg off Leo as a specialist, saying that he was "privy to the truth because of his high rank," (58) but I believe we know by know that this conspiracy-mongering speculation of a vast secret being kept quiet for 1500+ years but nevertheless revealed publicly (oops!) by a supposed key leader doesn't deserve a moment's credence. Leo may indeed have been a skeptic himself, but his words are no more authoritative than those of any Christ-myther. (For more on this, check here.)

Quackarya's next section is on the Gnostics, and while she is right to say that the ideas that were part of Gnosticism are indeed old, older indeed quite often than NT Christianity, she takes the usual overboard position that "Gnosticism was proto-Christianity." (60) The evidence for this?

Quackarya tells us, anyway, that this vast and subtle conspiracy changed Gnosticism into orthodox Christianity around 220 AD (61), although conveniently, the proof of this is hidden behind textual rewriters who left behind no evidence, other than a vague and uncritically-used quote from a non-authority named Jackson who warbles that earlier Epistles "show signs of Gnostic influence"--though not one example is offered. It is claimed that Christ's death is depicted in "dozens of different ways" (63; thus supposedly indicating ahistoricity), although the only example given is a late, circus-clown story reported by Irenaeus (c. 180 AD) that some Samaritans believed that someone named Simon died on the cross, not Jesus, and we are also offered similarly late ideas from the second century (that the ideas vary widely is attributed to Gnosticism's tendency to have "encouraged creativity and freedom of expression," 63, which is a positive-spin way of saying they liked to make things up on the spur of the moment and with no actual proof other than some vaguely "revealed gnosis"); docetism is again confused with an idea that Jesus did not exist as a person; some criticisms of Celsus are repeated uncritically; the pagan criticism of the idea of the divine logos becoming flesh is interpreted as supporting the Christ-myth (once again, as with docetism, confusing the matter of the existence of a person named Jesus with his the matter of his divine identity; it is the former that is being criticized, not the latter, in line with the typical Hellenstic dualism of the day); and, there is a repeat of the old "Trypho error" dealt with elsewhere.

Now we look at the chapter entitled "Physical Evidence." There isn't much here to talk about; the old complaint about a lack of a physical description of Jesus is brought up (Quackarya is apparently unaware that ancient biographers only used physical appearance as a guide to character; that the Gospels do not appeal to this pseudo-science is actually proof of their seriousness and even their inspiration--it is therefore irrelevant that no one recalled what Jesus looked like 100-200 years later); appeal is made to an author named Higgins who claims that a medal of "the Savior," with a depiction of a bearded man with long hair and a Hebrew inscription, was found in pre-Christian ruins (don't believe it: such a find would have made Biblical Archaeological Review; that it is found cited in a book written in the early 1800s, before scientific archaeological dating was possible, tells us enough about how likely it is that Higgins was actually on to something--by the way, Higgins also wrote a book claiming that the Celtic druids were emigrants from India!).

It is said that Serapis, a god of the Egyptian state religion from the 3rd century BC onward, was depicted as "a white man with long, dark hair and a beard" (which describes a rather significant portion of the Ancient Near Eastern male population during the period in question as well); a complaint about the lack of coins depicting Jesus (why would a religion founded from Judaism and with a distaste for graven images put Jesus' portrait on a coin?); a repeat of Earl Doherty's "why no sacred sites" complaint, which we answered here; an interesting list of places that claim to have the tomb of Jesus, from Japan to India, which proves nothing other than that Quackarya has nothing better to do with her time; some babbling about the Shroud of Turin (does Quackarya care to refute Ian Wilson's latest effort?); and a very brief section claiming that there is "much less than expected" archaeological evidence for the OT, although what the original expectations would be, and how they would be disappointed, is not specified: all we are given is a quote from an early 20th-century astrological specialist named Hazelrigg (not an archaeologist, or a historian, mind you, but an astrologer -- as Punkish reports, JOHN HAZELRIGG, born at Hazelrigg, Indiana, on June 20, 1860, at 1:07 PM. Educated at Purdue University, he went on stage at the age of 21, and played leading parts in various companies for thirteen years. He was class poet at the time of graduation from the University, and from twelve years of age dabbled in literature: poetry, fiction, playwriting, magazine and feature newspaper work, also painting and art. He first began the study of Astrology in 1892. In 1900 he published "The Rationale of Astrology." Then from August 1901 to September 1902 inclusive, he wrote and published "Hazelrigg's Astrological Herald," a monthly brochure. In 1916 he founded the American Academy of Astrologians. This information and the photo can be found in one of his booklets, "Astrosophic Tractates," published in 1936, by Llewellyn. yup, great authority there, Quackarya!) who complains about the silence of historians about Solomon's "magnificent empire" (actually, it was rather a flash in the pan by ancient standards, hardly worthy of mention, even if we assume that writers like Herodotus and Plato had any cause to mention it).

We continue our adventure through the muck farm known as Quackarya S' Christ Conspiracy with a chapter on another alleged myth, that of "Hebrew monotheism." We are assured that "the very notion of the monotheistic Hebrew God, as allegedly depicted in the Old Testament...is baseless." [88] No surprises here, and nothing that can't get a lesson from this essay on Akhentan as an influence on Jewish monotheism; only here it is Joseph Wheless rather than Sigmund Freud who is quoted as an authoritative source saying so. One wonders if these fellows would ever have accused Akhenaten of borrowing monotheism from anywhere.

But anyway, we are told that prior to the "intrusion" of "monotheistic Yahwism," the Hebrews were polytheists, and that they often pursued this polytheism in spite of Yahwistic monotheism. Oh? Every Sunday School student who isn't cutting paper dolls of Moses and Joshua knows about that. Everyone beyond the quoted 18th-century English laugh riot Higgins also knows that "Elohim" is a majestic rather than a numerical plural; as mentioned here, Elohim is used throughout the OT in a way that indicates a magestic rather than a numeric plural, and is coupled with verbs in the singular. All of the bellowing Higgins does about "the names of God being disguised in all the translations" is the product of a mind oblivious to Hebrew grammar. Beyond this, Quackarya's proclamation that "the various biblical names for 'God' " [89] (like Elohim, Adonai, etc.) are evidence of polytheism is actually evidence for Quackarya's lack of knowledge of the ancient Near Eastern practice of multiple naming of individuals and even pagan deities, as well as a reminder that multiple titles like "God Above" and "God Most High" are hardly evidence of numerous personages, unless our "President" and "Commander in Chief" titles today are evidence of such. One might consider picking up a book on this from the 20th century. (That reminds us to remind you that Quackarya's support of the JEDP theory may be countermanded by essays found here and here.)

Other than that, Quackarya provides some wildly speculative genesis tales, for example, taking uncritically Potter's assertion that "El Shaddai" was a being "later demonized in Psalms 106:37, condemned as one of the 'devils'--the Canaanite Shedim, to whom the Israelites sacrificed their sons and daughters." [92] By now we know better than to take such nonsense seriously, especially from the mouth of a non-expert like Potter; the word in Psalms 106:37 comes from a root meaning to devastate or waste; Shaddai, however, comes from a slightly different root that implies power, including that to devastate. The words are related, as is appropriate since that are both used of supernatural and powerful beings, but it means no more than that the word "energy" might be applied both to natural gas and also to bicycle pedal power.

We are also told: "Baal is in reality the earlier name of the character later known as Yahweh, as is stated in Hosea 2:16" [93]:

And it shall be at that day, saith the LORD, that thou shalt call me Ishi; and shalt call me no more Baali.

Biblical scholars, however, don't see this verse as evidence that Yahweh was once Baal; they take the recognized fact that "Baal" also means "husband" (as even Quackarya knows), and within the poetic context of Hosea as depicting Israel's relationship to God as a marriage, know that "Baal" as presented in this verse (actually, "ba'aliy" rather than "ba'al," as the name of the pagan god) is a sterner form of "husband" with more of a service connotation of a master or an owner, versus the earlier word translated "husband," 'iysh, which has a plainer connotation of a man without any implication of servanthood. It is quite clear in the context of Hosea as a whole that the point is a change of relationship with Israel in the eschatological future and it has nothing to do with any change of identity in the true God. Having the non-expert Blavatsky claim that the "Ba'al" of the Israelites was the same as the sun doesn't do the job. (Keep in mind that to call any divine being, even the true God, a "ba'al" means no more than calling people of varying rank "sir." The term is often used as a mere proper name for a pagan deity without realization that it had a generalized use, much like "Lord" did in NT times.)

The chapter continues with some fanciful word games and revisionist history, none of which is offered with a scintilla of hard proof; i.e., "Jehovah" is the same as a Chinese deity named Yao or Iao and the Egyptian Huhi and the Latin Jove (the anglicanized letters are close enough, eh, and never mind the linguistic problems!); similarity is seen with the pagan god Marduk, from whom the Jews allegedly "borrowed" the conception of one who created the world using water (this is the type of stuff Glenn Miller has already answered); "Israel" is said to be a combination of "three different reigning deities," Isis, Ra, and El (more word Lloyd Graham games! -- never mind proving an etymolgical connection or using anything but an English coincidence of letters; never mind also the known Hebrew roots, as encapsulated in Gen. 32:28 and accepted by Hebrew linguists); there's also an amusing allusion to the idea that Mt. Sinai was a volcano, and Yahweh a volcano god (where this volcano is, isn't specified; the mountains of the Sinai region and in Palestine are not geologically active); there's even a howling good story worth quoting in detail:

As Jordan Maxwell points out, the benediction or blessing sign of the Feast (of the giving of the law) is the same as the split-fingered, "live long and prosper" salutation of the Vulcan character Spock on "Star Trek." Vulcan, of course, is the same word as volcano, and the Roman god Vulcan was also a lightning and volcano god.

Ha ha! That Jordan Maxwell is one fun character, and Quackarya is just a conspiracy-mongering party animal, no? Beam her up, Scotty, the aliens are calling! (News flash: Leonard Nimoy grew up in a Jewish home, and he was using the split-finger symbol long before Roddenberry conceived of the guy with the pointed ears. Even so, this is the kind of riotous connection-making that shows us just how worthless Quackarya's scholarship is.)

Quackarya's chapter closes with an amusing recasting of Hebrew history, offering a hypothesis of "Yahweh-fanatics" who were "a rude bunch of marauders who pretended to speak from their 'Lord' and who then spent centuries destroying the ancient Hebrew polytheism so they could hold total power over the people." [99] Yes, it was just another power trip; never mind actually showing this from the literary or archaeological record, just assume a conspiracy and be done with it, adding as much insult along the way as possible (viz., Elijah was "a crude, dirty and hairy wildman"; where does Quackarya get info on Elijah's manners and personal hygiene, I wonder? did the aliens tell her?)...all of this never gets around to actually proving anything that suggests that "Yahwism" isn't true; although an unrealistic picture is offered suggesting that the Yahwist cultic apparatus required people to bring all of their animals to a centralized place to kill and eat them; apparently the zealous Yahwists were trying to control the food supply this way, but Quackarya doesn't tell us where in the OT the common people are ordered to bring a cow to the altar every night they wanted a hamburger. In fact there is no such stricture; it is Quackarya's invention for the sake of suggesting a conspiracy. I wonder how such a mismanaged conspiracy ever managed to survive. Other amusing points in closing: Jeroboam is said to be "foreman over the slaves of the 'house of Joseph,'" leading into a suggestion that Judah enslaved the rebellious and idolatrous northerners; actually the word "slaves" is not in the text, and the Hebrew word for "slave" is not used; Quackarya also dismisses the story of Hezekiah finding the book of the Law as "obviously fictitious" [101]...why? Because:

  1. "...(I)t cannot be explained why, if Moses had been real and had such a dramatic and impactful life, his Law would have been "lost" in the first place." [101] Uh, didn't we just get through acknowledging how the people went whoring after other gods? Isn't that reason enough for the Law of Moses to have been lost? And how does Moses' "dramatic and impactful life" have any effect on those living tens or hundreds of years later? Do you suppose the ancients watched The Prince of Egypt every night as a reminder? Finally, given that the overwhelming majority of all ancient literature is lost -- even that written by people who had "dramatic and impactful" lives -- how is this a worthwhile argument in the first place?
  2. If it had been lost, we are asked, "how did Hezekiah know to follow it when he made his purges and reforms?" Uh, well, you don't need explicit instructions to tell you to get rid of idols, priests, and altars to false gods when you are trying to please the true god(s); that's just the standard religio-historical paradigm in action!
  3. It is also considered "inexplicable" as to why God "would have gone to so much trouble to talk regularly with Moses and Aaron, give them an enormous amount of detailed instructions, and then just let 'his chosen' put it all away for 600 years." All right, what's the actual issue here? First Quackarya complains when God puts down on people for their sin; now she complains when she thinks He hasn't been paying enough attention. So do we want a God who gets into our daily affairs, or don't we? Or just when we find it convenient? Should He leave us His pager number for when we need Him?

Thus we leave Hebrew monotheism, and breeze through the next chapter, where Quackarya introduces us to some of the alleged "sources" for the myths of Jesus: Attis, Buddha, Bacchus, Osiris, and others. It is here that Glenn Miller has done his most detailed work, and so there is no need to repeat his work here; plus this. The only unique contribution -- Galatians 3:1 is quoted:

O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified?

Quackarya tells us that since the Galatians were presumably not in Jerusalem for the crucifixion, the only way Jesus could have been "publicly portrayed" as crucified before their eyes would be if it happened locally -- and she thinks this "suggests the recurring passion of the cult of Attis." To the uncritical, sure: I dunno know what version Quackarya quotes from here, but the Greek behind "publicly portrayed" is the word prographo, meaning, according to Strong's, "to write previously; fig. to announce, prescribe:--before ordain, evidently set forth, write (afore, aforetime)." The word doesn't indicate the enacting of an event but the proclamation of one. Quackarya is chasing rainbows based on the English text, just as her coterie always does.

Quackarya's next few pieces have to do with astrology and the Bible -- not the astrology you see in your daily papers, but the sort that sees within the astrological imagery a repeated story that relates to the Bible. Now there have after all been perfectly orthodox evangelical theorists who suppose that the true meaning of the astrological signs is a summation of the gospel, and that's an intriguing and curious subject: On the other hand, why are we bigoted in favor of the present astro-wheel over, say, the Chinese zodiac, and what was done for the sake of those living south of the equator? Anyway, other than occasionally confusing mere recognition of constellations (astronomy) with astrological practice, taking poetry to extremes, confusing observations upon the date of the new moon with the worship of the new moon (after all, why not use a significant and obvious time-marker as the occasion for a celebration, in this day before digital watches and calendars?), an endorsement of the Book of Jasher (see on J. B. McPherson on this one), more "huh" indications that the Israelites fell into idolatry and did forbidden acts, and so on, we have a few interesting items: To begin, an account of Josephus' "astrological interpretation" of the Mosaic Tabernacle. It's a funny one, as funny as some of Jeane Dixon's horoscopes; for example, old Joe says that the twelve loaves set on the altar (Lev. 24:5) represent the twelve months of the year. (Really? Not the twelve tribes of Israel?) He also says that the branching of the candlestick into 70 parts represents "seventy divisions of the planets." (Needless to say, that's a division process that modern astronomy has yet to endorse.) He also says that the seven lamps on the candlesticks represent the seven planets. (Whoops! They didn't know about Uranus, Neptune and Pluto yet [the sun was considered one of the seven; as was the moon, and Earth was excluded from the count of 7]; so much for that interpretation!)

We can go on, with more wildcard analogies of this sort from both old Joe and Quackarya, but what it really boils down to is that the attempt to read the Bible "astrologically" more often depends on grasping for straws or else shoving square pegs into round holes. Sometimes it seems to make sense (i.e., when Reuben is called "unstable as water" [Gen. 49:4], this is said to correspond to Aquarius; but there is far more to Reuben's description that doesn't fit, and one could associate "water" with other astrological signs as well, like Cancer the Crab); other times, and more often, it seems to be a long stretch (i.e., Joseph is identified as Sagittarius because he was "fiercely attacked by archers" -- isn't Saggy the archer? -- and Naphtali as a "hind let loose" is said to correspond to Capricorn the goat; never mind that hinds are female deer, not goats). With these and other wild comments (i.e., John 14:2, Jesus' reference to God's house having "many mansions," this refers to the "houses of the moon" or the zodiacal constellations!), we hardly need say little at all. Don't pick up a cup of water, lest you be identified as Aquarius the water-bearer. (On the other hand, we might ask, so what if Jabob's blessings on his sons seem to correspond, however marginally, to the 12 astrological signs? The major constellations would surely serve well as excellent reminders of theme in an oral-based society, since they were always there as a reminder; the problem could simply be that Quackarya and Co. see more significance in the correspondence than is warranted because they are working within their own context of a literate, post-oral society that does not use the environment as a reminder of things.)

The next chapter contains the thesis that "the Son of God is the Sun of God," and has as its focus the pretense that the story of Christ is paralleled by sun mythology. This may not have dawned on you before, so let's look at some of the Quackaryaiac reasoning behind this thesis [154-6]. Some of the parallels drawn are badly misinformed; thus:

  1. "The sun 'dies' for three days at the winter solstice, to be born again or resurrected on December 25th." Is this meant to parallel something? If so, somebody is missing the target: Aside from the fact that 12/25 was a later choice of the church based on pagan thought rather than on Biblical data, the story is that Christ was born 12/25 -- not born again or resurrected.
  2. "The sun at its zenith, or 12 noon, is in the house or heavenly temple of the 'Most High'; thus, 'he' begins 'his Father's work' at 'age' 12." Lots of problems with this one: First of all, the Hebrews reckoned what we call noon as the "sixth hour" of the day. Second, the sun hardly "begins" it's work at noon; it begins it's work at dawn. Third, related to that, noon isn't even "age" 12 for the sun; at that point the sun is around five to six hours "old," depending on the time of year. It's amazing how practical, hard data tends to overturn these wondrous parallels. It's more likely that this story of Jesus alluded to has something to do with the fact that at 12, Jewish boys were considered to be taking steps into manhood and independence.
  3. "The sun enters into each sign of the zodiac at 30 [degrees]; hence, the 'Sun of God' begins his ministry at 'age' 30." Whoops again: Luke 3:23 tells us that Jesus was about 30, not actually 30.
  4. "The sun is the 'Lion' when in Leo, the hottest time of the year, called the 'throne of the Lord.' " What say? The hottest time of the year is called the "throne of the Lord"? By whom? Or is it Leo that is called that, and again, by whom?
  5. "The sun is 'betrayed' by the constellation of the Scorpion, the backbiter, the time of the year when the solar hero loses his strength." (! - It sure fits well to put that "betrayed" in quotes! Using that word to describe what happens is a crime against language that deserves lethal injection!)
  6. "The sun is hung on a cross, which represents its passing through the equinoxes, the vernal equinox being Easter." 'Scuse me, but for this analogy to work, wouldn't the sun at least have to go east to west part of the year, and north and south some other part of the year? Where does a cross fit in, other than in the imagination?
  7. "The sun does a 'stutter-step' at the winter solstice, unsure whether to return to life or 'resurrect,' doubted by this 'twin' Thomas." Wow, this one really misses a fleet of boats! How did Jesus do a "stutter-step" at the winter solstice? How was he "unsure" whether to resurrect? Thomas wasn't his twin, and he didn't doubt until after the resurrection. Perhaps Quackarya needs to read the Bible itself rather than those horoscope charts she got off the counter at the 7-11.

Other parallels drawn are simply wild stretches of the imagination, like:

  1. "The sun of god is 'born of a virgin,' which refers to both the new or 'virgin' moon and the constellation of Virgo." Um hm. How is the sun "born" of the moon or of this specific constellation? Simply attempting to draw an illicit synonym (new = virgin?!?) and citing an astronomical arrangement without connection won't do the job.
  2. "The sun is the 'Carpenter' who builds his daily 'houses' or 12 two-hour divisions." The sun does no such thing: The "houses" remain there at all times, and it is an incredible stretch to draw the conception of carpentry in here. Nothing is being "built" except the foundation for a fertile imagination.
  3. "The sun's 'followers' or 'disciples' are the 12 signs of the zodiac, through which the sun must pass." Say again? How did Jesus "pass" through his disciples? How do the zodiac signs "follow" the sun? They don't. This is just yet another strained analogy, like these next two:
  4. "The sun is 'anointed' when its rays dip into the sea." (If you ask me, someone has been dipping and anointing themselves a little too much in the scotch bottle!)
  5. "The sun 'changes water into wine' by creating rain, ripening the grape on the vine and fermenting the grape juice." (Make that the wine bottle! So where do all the little microbes that cause fermentation find their analogy in the miracle at Cana? Maybe someone wants to compare this to typological exegesis; if they do, they might bear in mind the warning that one can indeed run wild with typology, but as with analogies that one can likewise run wild with in daily life, so it is that some type/antitype equations make more sense than others. And these, quite frankly, make little sense except within the realm of the Silly Putty School of Theology.)
  6. "When the sun is annually and monthly re-born, he brings life to the 'solar mummy,' his previous self, raising it from the dead." (Figure that one out! How is the sun "monthly re-born"? If you can make sense of this one, award yourself a hot fudge sundae. Quackarya later makes the excuse that "to make the tale linear" [162] the "historical" Jesus of course could only die and resurrect once; this is actually a case of trying to explain why the theory does not fit the facts.)
  7. "The sun is 'crucified' between the two thieves of Sagittarius and Capricorn." Maybe I'm ignorant of such vital sciences as astrology when I ask this, but aside from more illicit synonyminzing (the sun is "crucified"? who nails it down and how?), since when are Sagittarius and Capricorn referred to as thieves? How does a goat steal anything? Since when are archers ever thieves by profession? (The bow and arrow is not exactly a well-known robbery weapon! What's the robber supposed to do? Put down the bow and arrow to take the loot from his victim? Maybe he expects the victim to put his wallet down and then leave?)
  8. The sun is the 'Light of the World,' and 'comes on clouds, and every eye shall see him.' " Big deal about the light bit: This is one of those universal and sensible equations Glenn Miller talks about; light is a good metaphor for inspiration and truth, so it is used in contexts ranging from the religious (as here) to the ridiculous (as when a lightbulb appears over Dagwood Bumstead's head when he gets an idea for a new kind of sandwich). As for riding on clouds, the sun does no such thing; it "rides" behind the clouds; Jesus' statement is better informed by the Jewish theme of holy beings riding on clouds. Finally, every eye sees the ground and the sky as well, but we don't draw any crazy analogies on that basis.
  9. "The sun is the Word or Logos of God." This requires only one response: ???????

In closing: While it is no surprise that the sun is a useful metaphor, even for the ancient Hebrews as in Malachi 4:2 (though they used much less sun imagery than any of their neighbors did), this reflects no more than the sort of universal metaphorical function we might expect (as in, light = inspiration above). Quackarya is doing no more than going on a wild allegory safari in her quest to read into the Biblical text what simply isn't there. In so doing she mirrors those later pagan-influenced members of the church who attempted to syncretize solar myth into Christian doctrine. That some Christians may have paid homage to the sun (as Quackarya notes quoting Wheless, who may be no more reliable than she is) only means that they shared Quackarya's incompetence.

We can close with a look at a rather amusing attempt by Quackarya to relate the life of Jesus to the signs of the zodiac. We'll again see the same pattern of mixing synonym-stretching with bad data and wild analogies, as these samples show [161]:

  1. "According to legend, Jesus was born in a stable between a horse and a goat, symbols of Sagittarius and Capricorn." Um, which legend? Is this from the Bible (hint: it's not) or a later church creation that might have indeed been influenced by astrological syncretism? Either way, it doesn't matter: Horses in this period could only be afforded by royalty, governments, and the very rich, and they wouldn't be kept in a stable with a goat. Also, wasn't the archer the symbol for Saggy before? If we can keep switching symbols around like this, we can make anything mean anything we want.
  2. "He was baptized in Aquarius, the Water-Bearer." OK, so were the thousands of Jewish proselyte baptisms also done "in Aquarius"? This is foisting an astrological allegory upon a historical reality.
  3. "(Jesus) became the Good Shepherd and the Lamb in Aries, the Ram." Sorry, but a ram or lamb is not a shepherd. Stretching the symbolism to accommodate our thesis is not going to cut the mustard.
  4. "Jesus told the parables of the sowing and tilling of the fields in Taurus, the Bull." See what I mean? Jesus also told parables of other things; what sign are they told in? This is stretching another historical reality (the use of agricultural metaphors, natural in an agrarian society like rural Palestine) for the sake of a thesis.
  5. "In Cancer, 'the celestial Sea of Galilee,' he calmed the storm and waters, spoke of backsliders (the Crab), and rode the ass and foal in triumph into the City of Peace, Jerusalem." Four questions: 1) This "celestial Sea of Galilee" quote comes from a no-qualifications, no-name named Hazelrigg, and not a scrap of evidence is given that this phrase was any sort of accepted name for Cancer or has any relevance to the matter at hand. Quackarya will need to do more than throw quotes at us from non-experts, in subjects like "metaphysical astrology" and whose work is published by places with names like "Health Research," to make a convincing case. Let's hear it directly from an archaeologist working in the field, a sociologist, or even a historian of religion. 2) How did Cancer the Crab calm storms and waters? Crabs don't have much power to do that. 3) They are also "sidesliders," not backsliders, and what Scripture is this alluding to? 4) What do crabs have to do with riding donkeys into the City of Peace?
  6. "In Libra, Christ was the true vine in the Garden of Gethsemane, the 'wine press,' as this is the time of the grape harvest." Sorry, Quackarya, that has nothing to do with the sign of Libra, which is scales. Just another desperate stretch in the making, since there was no way to fit scales in. Essentially all Quackarya (or her source) did was fiddle with the astrological sign, struggle to find some square peg in the NT life of Jesus that could be hammered into the round hole of the astrological charts, and then banged on it for all they were worth. This would not have been too hard anyway: The astrological signs (the constellations, that is) were designed based upon common objects available in the ancient period in which they were designed. If there had been an astrological sign called Tiller shaped like a plow, Quackarya could have said that Jesus "picked grains of wheat in Tiller." If there had been a sign shaped like a king's crown, Quackarya could say that Jesus had been made King of Kings in that sign. The game is very simple, and very easy to play.
  7. "Jesus was betrayed by Judas, the 'backbiter,' or Scorpio." So scorpions go biting people on the back? Are there any certified statistics from the Poison Control Center to back up this generalization?
  8. "In Sagittarius, Jesus was wounded in the side by the Centaur, or centurion." Whoops, there's one big problem with that, and that's that the Greek word for "centurion" is hekatontarches, which doesn't look or sound a darned thing like the English "centurion" or "centaur." But I guess this is one of those Lloyd-Graham "regardless of etymology" mystical things.
  9. "He was crucified at the winter solstice between the 'two thieves' of Sagittarius and Capricorn, who sapped his strength." Huh? Aside from the same "thieves" question above, we may point out that Easter is not at the winter solstice (Dec. 22nd), and the thieves on the cross in no sense "sapped" Jesus' strength. They were rather too busy at the moment!

And so it goes, with a couple of other fun facts. Wells is quoted as saying that "Nothing is known of such a place" as the Garden of Gethsemane [162]. If this means, "We have no other record of it in other sources," that is probably true, but tell me where else you might expect someone's private garden to be mentioned in a major work of history, unless some event of concern to them personally happened there; Wells is, as usual, blowing bubbles. It is also said, "...Jesus is the Piscean fish god, who, at Luke 24:11-2, upon his resurrection is made to ask, 'Do you have any fish?' " [164] Actually, that's Luke 24:41, and the request was for brosimos, or meat, which was a synecdoche for anything that was edible, and contrary to Quackarya, this did not "establish the choice of communion food of the new age." There is no evidence of fish being used in early Christian communal meals, and the Catholic custom of eating fish on Fridays is a much later, and very much irrelevant, matter of concern. The 19th-century baloney-peddler Higgins is referred to as saying that "early Christians were called 'Pisciculi' -- little fishes." This is true -- it comes from a third century (early???) quote by Tertullian -- but what of it? Once again, the historical reality of a founding within a rural, agrarian society, where the metaphor of fish and fishing based on a staple of that society, is a more than sufficient explanation.

The zodiacal zaniness continues with a chapter with the thesis that "the disciples are the signs of the zodiac" [166] and we need say little, for it follows the same imaginative pattern as the previous chapter: Quoting the bare opinions of others (like Guignebert, on the lives of the apostles as recorded in later works as saying, "not one of them is true," as fact -- so much for critical historical work!); with the added complaint that "the list if names is also very clumsily worked into the text" (Hey, G. A., is there any smooth way to put a list of anything into a narrative structure? Try to break the ice at the next party by listing your books in the middle of a conversation on them.); allusions to other mythical figures with 12 of something (as if this means anything: but beyond that, at least one of the three cites, referring to 12 helpers of Horus has been debunked by Glenn Miller, who says he finds references to four "disciples," an unnumbered group of helpers, but no reference to a group of 12); more stretching to fit the theory; and of course, more unverified, unverifiable, and patently false assertions from non-experts past and present like Higgins, Barbara Walker, Hazelrigg, and Massey (For example, that "Petra" was the name of the divine doorkeeper to heaven in the Egyptian Book of the Dead. [168] My answer: "Prove it!" Here's a link to a page with the Book of the Dead on it. I just searched the entire thing for a reference to a "Petra" and it wasn't there. Any of you mythicists want to put your money where you mouth is...? Quackarya?). Given this, we won't waste our time further on this chapter. These no-account sources will have to prove themselves in the modern court of critical history before I will give them any credence; by now we have shown enough times how unreliable they are that detailed refutation becomes much less necessary. (Although those interested in debunking Quackarya's attempt to equate Paul with Apollonius may wish to consult the item here -- if there's any borrowing, it's clearly the opposite of the way Quackarya thinks it is.)

As I enter the third and final installment of "As the Pigpen Turns" with our review of Acharya S' Christ Conspiracy, I find a number of places where stuff like this item on Mithraism is of use. It's been much more entertaining to witness Quackarya's silence on such detailed refutations of her material (as indeed, she has refused to answer even a simple question from one of JP's readers based on that essay) than her silence to this Which leads to what is left of the remainder of her book. We find in our next partition some of the usual screwiness we have come to expect: Nazareth and Golgotha did not exist during the alleged time of Jesus (an idea held by no reputable archaeologist or historian); symbolism stretched to the breaking point; the Cana miracle is stolen from Dionysus (no mention of the fact that the documentation for Dionysus is much, much later); outrageous claims made with absolutely no documentation ("...the Jews were followers of Set, the serpent of the night sky." [200][????]); Pliny and Seneca do not mention the darkness of the crucifixion, so it is not historical...and an alphabetical listing of "elements and symbols of the Christian myth" supposedly borrowed from elsewhere, though many entries consist of little more than one paragraph, and none exceeds three pages. If you think Quackarya has thereby proven a case for borrowing with any of these short shots, you are uncritical enough to deserve what you get as a result.

And with this, our survey of The Christ Conspiracy closes. What may be said in closing? The "S" in "Acharya S" clearly does not stand for "scholar." It must stand for "stench" if anything. It hard to understand why anyone takes this stufff seriously; yet just look at the reviews on Amazon Books, and see for yourself. I take these reactions as further proof not only of the decidedly poor condition of critical thinking skills and education in our society, but also a reminder that men will do what it takes to avoid the truth.


And now, a special bulletin. There's nothing like a good catfight, and we may just see one in the making. There's a book review of Acharya S' book from the atheistic magazine Free Inquiry. Surprise of surprises: The author of this review is none other than the Secular Web's own Mr. Ice Cream Man, Mr. Robert Price -- and he is, to put it bluntly, more than a little p.o.'d with Ms. S and her nonsense. (The full cite is: Summer, 2001, Vol. 21, No. 3, "Reviews", "Aquarian Skeptic", Robert M. Price reviews "The Christ Conspiracy", pp. 66-67.)

Price isn't as blatantly rude to Acharya as he is to believers -- but he is rude in much subtler ways. To begin, he identifies her throughout the review by her real name rather than by her writing pseudonym. (Acharya's real name is D. Murdock, but this is about as meaningful as Acharya S.) Price's biggest beef with Acharya is that she is doing things in her book that could ruin his own reputation as a Christ-myther. In his words: "Those of us who uphold any version of the controversial Christ Myth theory find ourselves immediately the object not just of criticism, but even of ridicule. And it causes us chagrin to be lumped together with certain writers with whom we share the Christ Myth but little else." Although finding "a wealth of fascinating information" in Acharya's work, Price also considers it "sophomoric" and notes that her sources were "books written by mainly nineteenth-century eccentrics, freethinkers, and theosophists..." He states also: "She is quick to state as bald fact what turn out to be, once one chases down her sources, either wild speculation or complex inference from a chain of complicated data open to many interpretations." And the problem with this, Price says, is that while some of the copycat parallels are valid (i.e., the ones he uses, like Attis and Osiris) others are not (the ones Acharya also uses but he doesn't, like Dionysus and Buddha). This, he says, "invites Christian apologists to tar [the parallels he uses] with the same brush." [! -- And yet, as shown, Attis, one of Price's faves, is in even worse shape that Dionysus!]

Price closes his review with some notes of Acharya's loopier sourcework -- writers who believed in Atlantis and that sort of thing, "many outright looney." He concludes: "...no one whose disquiet with traditional Christian faith is based on solid fact or credible theorizing will want to recommend this book, much less appeal to it as justification for one's own doubts."

Ouch.


Quackarya responded to this once, but it was never much of a response and still isn't. It began with her usual misuse of Matthew 10:34-37 and the usual skeptical misuse of Luke 14:26. The diatribe goes on as follows for several sentences:

Who else would so obsessed with an invisible giant man in the sky and his son, and who would be so fascistic as to attempt to force their bizarre obsession on others, through nastiness and threats?....Obviously, from the level of the vitriol, my work is very threatening, which means it has merit. Basically, Holding & Gang are used-religion salesmen who, when the sale of their shoddy goods falls through, must attack, ridicule and menace their targets. I'm sure the "gentle" and "loving" Jesus must be very pleased by their vulgar and hateful behavior and mentality. And why doesn't Jesus, this "superior being," set the record straight himself, instead of using low-class, monobrow Neanderthals to do it?... What Holding has done is to provide a gathering place for the most savage and malevolent Christian thugs to revel in their torment of other humans....
It's obvious this gang wouldn't know scholarship if it hit them on the heads, so they must engage in mean-spirited ad hominems, name-calling, etc... "such puerility and infantility are necessary to be a believer in the gospel fairytale in the first place...[Holding's] main tactic when presented with factual information regarding the non-historicity or erroneousness of Christianity is basically to say, "NO! That's not it!" In other words, deny, deny, deny.

And so on. None of this actually addresses any point made in any article JP has written; while assurances are made that "[Holding] has not even come close to refuting the mythicists school," the only point Quackarya does choose to address is a defense of her "beings" comments on the radio, to wit:

In the first place, yes, the comment was said tongue in cheek. Get over it. I had a friend in the room with me, egging me on - he was the principal "being" telling me to do what I was doing. I never said anything about "aliens," but, never mind, because Holding & Gang have never been interested in facts, just mindless sniping. Nevertheless, I have also had experiences "beyond the third dimension" - whoop de doo. Carl Sagan started his career in astronomy by distinguishing himself as a believer in life on other worlds. His credibility didn't seem to have suffered much. Millions of scientists and scholars have been believers in one religion or another, which means they believe in "beings," "afterlives" and any assortment of mystical and metaphysical concepts. Some 90% of the world supposedly believes in "God," who is a "being"; therefore, according to Holding's methodology, 90% of the world - including Holding & Gang - is to be ridiculed and dismissed as utterly lacking in credibility.

Of course this is a bale of apples and a crate of oranges -- proof of a "being" in the sense of God is attended by philosophical arguments and proofs the likes of which Quackarya makes no effort to touch (i.e., cosmological, design, etc.), whereas proof of Quackarya's sort of lesser "beings" is not. But we have noted Quackarya's inability to discern items from the fruit stand before. (And I don't think part of Sagan's m.o. was being able to communicate with those beings over stellar distances -- much less claiming that they provided information overturning accepted scolarship!)

This lesser point is a little stronger:

Indeed, any Christian who has a problem with an offhand remark about "beings" really needs to be reminded that people who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones. In the first place, Christians insist that there is an invisible Father, Son and Holy Ghost somewhere "out there," who are directing everything, like giant puppetmasters. In fact, Christianity is FULL OF BEINGS, from start to finish.

The point is granted, and JP makes no statements (and never has) about solid proof of "beings" lower than deity in the sense described. Such obviously comes only via revelation, and it then becomes a test (as prescribed indeed in Deuteronomy) of whose revelation might be able to withstand scrutiny -- and that leads next into specifics to be defended, which Quackarya provides almost none of at all, but JP has been doing on his page for years.

Sometime recently some points were added about Robert Taylor's abuse of Tacitus' Annals. Here is how it is put: "Taylor had the audacity to point out that the affair seemed fraudulent and that the Annals themselves, along with their Christ 'reference' were also fraudulent. Following him, a Latin scholar named Ross wrote a book essentially proving that the Annals were indeed forged. In any case, fast forward and we find the inadequately informed Holding stating that 'Taylor believed Tacitus's writings to be forgeries!' No, that's inaccurate. Taylor investigated and discovered that the ANNALS were forged." I'd like to know what the difference is between statements A and B here. If anyone knows, please inform me. One might argue that i.e., Agricola is excluded, but I doubt if Taylor considered it if he even know about it. Our assistant Punkish adds: And Taylor's supposed discovery was that the *passage* was interpolated (though he does stress de Spire's involvement as a bit fishy). It can't be claimed Taylor viewed the whole of the Annals were forged because he puts the manuscript evidence at the eighth century, while Ross (published anonymously) puts it at the fifteenth, omitting mention of earlier manuscripts and citations of the work existing at Monte Cassino prior to Poggio Bracciolini's finding (the supposed forger - wow, Ross was some scholar to omit that!). Her sources disagree. Here's the relevant quote, since I've access to the Diegesis: "The first publication of any part of the Annals of Tacitus, was by Johannes de Spire, at Venice, in the year 1468. His imprint being made from a single manuscript, in his own power and possession only, and purporting to have been written in the eighth century." and, "Eusebius had christianized Josephus ; it remained for shrewder masters of criticism, and the more accomplished scholars and infidels of a later age to perform a similar regeneration upon the text of Tacitus" (Diegesis, p393, having discussed Josephus as an interpolation) We are also treated to a discussion from a scholarly source, "The United Church of God"'s Good News Magazine, on how lots of religions believed in a happy afterlife. Given the alternatives available (no afterlife, bad afterlife) that is certainly a revelation worth noting. Punkish adds: The source of one of the afterlife examples in the Good News mag on Osiris originates in the work of a radio commentator, L Browne, writing in 1930. Strike up another non-authority for Acharya.

But again, nothing else data-oriented is addressed. Acharya merely says she will "leave it up to the reader's intelligence to see who has scholarship on her side." (I.e., "I have no actual answers, so I will pretend that I do.") She also refers the good folks to her new material in Suns of God: Krishna, Buddha and Christ Unveiled, of which, JP has already refuted/responded to relevant portions from the issue of Mithraism and the Gospels. Quackarya also begs off her inadequacy on the secular references to Jesus by claiming:

Although I'm sure it was too far over the heads of Holding & Gang to figure out, I didn't go into any great detail regarding these "references" in The Christ Conspiracy because they had already been thoroughy discredited over the last two to three centuries, as anyone would know who has actually studied the issue.

To which I will only say, I will wait and see what else Quackarya offers to embarrass herself. The Gang and I are waiting eagerly, because we could use a few laughs after a hard day or torturing inmates...by reading them selections from The Christ Conspiracy.


Update: Parts is Parts. A mystery has been somewhat resolved. In the article Quackarya wrote to which this is a response, she claimed:

(I've even had at least one of his followers make rude remarks about my female body parts. If I were to stoop to their level, I'd call Holding & Gang "Gay Nazis for Christ." Who else would so obsessed with an invisible giant man in the sky and his son, and who would be so fascistic as to attempt to force their bizarre obsession on others, through nastiness and threats?)

I left that slander alone as unsupported nonsense, but by deduction, our Research Assistant Punkish has figured out...that HE is the "follower" alleged in question. In this vein we have some notes from a message Quackarya posted to her group:

[Holding] also makes continuous claims that are blatantly false, such as regards Mithraism. Concerning his credibility, he uses another pseudonym, the "Apostle Peter" and apparently believes he truly is Jesus's best friend. Moreover, the name of his site, which is from the Greek "tekton," which is a reference to Jesus as a "carpenter" in the New Testament, means "freemason" in modern Greek. Considering his vehemence in upholding what is so evidently a myth, I have to wonder about this strange title.

Hmm. If anyone knows where JP has written as "Apostle Peter" please inform me, and also inform Quackarya that "tekton" means a worker in wood and stone -- that has no "free" in front of it. And we're still waiting for a rebuttal of my (and Ulansey's, and Gordon's, etc) arguments about Mithraism. But here's the real kicker:

After years of personal attacks by Holding and his followers, who constantly use pseudonyms, such as "Punkish," and who even emailed me sick remarks about my gender, I took a short stand against him to defend myself. The bottom line is that if this is the best defenders of the faith can do, then the battle against Christian brainwashing is handily won. And it IS a deleterious brainwashing that everyone should be alerted to.

Now knowing it was he that was targeted, Punkish wrote Quackarya as follows:

It has come to my attention that you think I once wrote you and mentioned your body parts. I have only once written to you, asking if you knew anything about Vossius and the claim made by Frank Zindler that the manuscript collector had a copy of Josephus which omitted the Testimonium. You link to Zindler's article from your page.
I have never mentioned your body parts, anywhere. It isn't my style. Since you have posted this accusation on a public forum, I'd like an apology, please: on the same board. I realise you are a very busy person, but making public accusations which are not true is unacceptable.

To this, Quackarya could only respond with,

"Sure, Punkish, as soon as Holding takes down all the trash he's written about me."

Punkish observes in close:

Where Acharya writes "I've even had at least one of his followers make rude remarks about my female body parts" which apparently means me (she named me as the supposed source on Graham Hancock's forum), even though I never wrote her saying such crude things - it isn't my style - she replied with what amounts to a refusal. What sort of scholar makes false, public accusations and then does not retract them when caught?

Note, 1/2/06: We have been surprised to note that Acharya has apologized for and withdrawn her accusation towards Punkish.