[The Documentary Hypothesis] does recognise the fact that the tenth and eleventh chapters of Genesis consist of a self-contained unit of information that is complete even if read in isolation from the rest of the Genesis account. In that sense, at least, it forms a document that we may study in isolation.It’s always good when we start with a completely pointless attempt to illuminate the validity of a document. The first chapter of Genesis is also a self-contained unit of information but we can’t necessarily believe that. Oh, wait, bad example. I can’t use a document I don’t believe to discredit a document I don’t believe. Okay, let’s go with this instead. Van Wilder 2: The Rise of Taj is a self-contained unit of information. It even contains valid historical information, since Taj is a history TA and part of the movie involves him teaching history.* But that doesn’t mean that the movie itself is a valid historical document. I’m not saying that the writers of Genesis were writing fiction. I’m also pretty sure I’d rather watch this movie over and over again instead of reading Genesis ever again. The movie has laughs and boobs. What else could a guy want? Well, I guess Genesis has boobs, too, but you’ve got to work a lot harder to see nipples through wet t-shirts in an ancient religious text.
But how accurate is that document? Most scholars today would denounce it as unreliable, and some would dismiss it from any further discussion by attaching to it labels of 'myth' and 'pious fiction', favourite terms among modernist scholars, thus assuring their readers that its study, and especially faith in its accuracy, is a waste of time. These terms and labels will become more familiar to us as we come across a great many extra-biblical records that substantiate rather than undermine the Genesis account, but their over-use by certain scholars has left the definite impression that the modernist protests too much, and when applied as often as they are to so many historical records, they become tired and meaningless phrases that convey no information at all.The anti-intellectualism in this book is starting to get painful. Although, to be fair, Cooper is using the words “scholar” and “modernist” so many times that it’s become a meaningless word that conveys no information at all. Wait, it was like that the first time he used modernist, too. He’s really only destroyed the word “scholar.” Either way, I’m going to steal the next couple sentences when it comes time to write a thesis statement for my book about how fundamentalism is intellectually bankrupt.
There is doubtless method in this academic madness, given the question that if Genesis cannot be relied upon when it comes to stating accurately simple historical facts, then how can it be relied upon when it comes to stating higher truths? But the over-use of such labels becomes weansome [sic] and ultimately meaningless, and is of no service whatever to healthy historical research.I’d say that there is, indeed “method in this academic madness.” Historians have given the Bible no more scrutiny than they would give to Thucydides or Herodotus. They’ve done nothing more to discredit the Bible than they would to discredit any other ahistorical creation myth from the Norse or the Iroquois. Of course the fact that there are those who insist that the Bible is completely, 100% true and have everything to lose if it’s proven to not be the case means that any question from the “scholars” and the “modernists” about the Bible’s veracity have to be met with terror and denial. Anyway, he proceeds to turn the “Table of Nations” in to a genealogy. It looks like this: I’m actually sparing you a couple paragraphs here in an uncharacteristic act of charity. After his neat little genealogical chart he makes this claim:
Very briefly then, as we consider just a few of the names in the Japhetic list, we find that in the mythology of the old world, Japheth was regarded as the father of many peoples, particularly the Indo-European nations. The pagan Greeks perpetuated his name as Iapetos, the son of heaven and earth and again the father of many nations. We find his name in the vedas of India where it appears in Sanskrit as Pra-Japati, Father Japheth, who was deemed to be the sun and lord of creation, the source of life in other words for those descended from him. Later, the Romans were to perpetuate his name as that of Ju-Pater, Father Jove, later standardised to Jupiter (see Appendix 11).I’m speechless. I am without speech. Well, I was when I first read it last Sunday. I can’t fucking believe how fucking stupid you would have to fucking be to fucking believe this fucking bullshit. Ahem. Sorry. Apparently I swear when I’m angry. Let’s see how I can take this. It should be easier for me to handle the Greco-Roman stuff than the Indian stuff since, y’know, Greek and Roman history and myth factored pretty strongly in my studies. The main problem here is that it’s fairly hard to directly refute Cooper’s claim. I simply cannot find what the etymological histories of “Japheth” or “Iapetus” are. However, since I’m pretty sure that written Hebrew didn’t turn in to written Greek, chances are “Japheth” and “Iapetus” have absolutely nothing in common. In fact, I might actually be able to make a convincing argument that the exact opposite happened. If you recall, I’ve conjectured that the Jews descended from the “Sea People.” The Phoenicians popped up right around the same time as the destruction of the Minoan and Mycenaean civilizations. Written Hebrew is also based on the Phoenician system. Thereby, it’s possible that Japheth was actually a Hebrew mutation of Iapetus. I’ve just blown Bill Cooper’s brain. Of course the main difference between me and Bill Cooper in this one is that I don’t buy my own argument for a second. It’s a fundamentally stupid argument that requires too many conjectures from coincidence to be true. And I think the Phoenicians were in the Levant before the Sea People showed up, so that pretty much tears it. But, of course, this is what a real historian does with conjecture. Anyway, let’s look at what we know about Iapetus. He was a Titan. I do believe he was the mythical creative force of at least some Greek myth. His children were Atlas, Prometheus, Epimetheus, and Menoitius. His parents were Uranus and Gaia. Now, it stands to reason that if Iapetus is Japheth, someone else in that list of Greek characters would have a name that sounds like Noah or one of Japheth’s many children. Let’s go take a look. Nope, nothing. If I had to guess, I’d say that Cooper is cherry-picking information in order to support his thesis. This is only when we take the next obvious step in the progression. I’ll sum it up in a single sentence: JUPITER WASN’T THE ROMAN VERSION OF IAPETUS. Ju-pater doesn’t have anything to do with “Japheth.” It’s Roman for “father god.” “Ju” comes from the same Indo-European root as “Zeus.” So I suppose the Greeks just cut out the “father” part and called it a day. In fact, this might be a good time to point out that I’m pretty damn sure that the Semitic languages didn’t come from the same place as Greek and Roman. To the best of my knowledge they’re a weird combination of the Sumerian/Babylonian and Egyptian languages. Greek and Roman were a development of Indo-European languages. So any commonalities between the languages are purely coincidental, especially when it comes to proper names. Which brings me to ol’ Prajapati, who was not known as Pra-Japati, but who’s counting when you’re Bill Cooper and your entire argument depends on making up correlations that don’t actually exist in order to defend an insane supposition? Either way, it would be absolutely not surprising to find that “Prajapati” comes from “praja-pati” in Sanskrit and that the “pati” in Prajapati and the “pater” in “Ju-pater” come from the same place, since both the languages in question are Indo-European. Oh, yeah, and in Hebrew the closest we get to “father god” is “Elohim.” El is the root for “god” from the Canaanite and the root of the rest of the word seems to indicate El’s place as the head of the pantheon. Thereby, El-ohim is (kinda-sorta) the roots of “god-father” in Canaanite, which looks absolutely nothing like Ju-pater or Praja-pati from an etymological standpoint. And, of course, Praja-pati looks nothing like Pra-Japati, which has nothing to do with Japheth. Also, I guess I can figure out the etymology of the words in question. Neat. I’m so glad we could clear that up… Either way, this is not a good start to Cooper's argument. He claims, if you'll remember, that the "Table of Nations" is a detailed history that is 99% accurate or some similar insane number outside of the Bible. However, if his entire claim rests on "evidence" like his Japheth/Iapetus/Jupiter/Prajapati connection I'm going to need a crash course in Indo-European and Semitic linguistics. Please tell me there's a Rosetta Stone program for dead languages. ---------------------------- *My decision to turn on the TV and engage in completely mindless entertainment is turning out remarkably well at the moment… Also, totally off-subject: the Alternate Routes’ “The Heart of the Aftermath” just started playing out of nowhere in the middle of Van Wilder 2. I’m a huge fan of the fact that that happened.