Captain America: Civil War

“Let’s give Marvel the D.C. licenses and let them do the stories.”
Angry Joe

Hey! I’m a D.C. guy. Ever since my childhood, I’ve always loved D.C. I used to like Spiderman and Hulk, but I loved Superman and Batman far more. So, writing this is very sad for me.

When yesterday I was leaving several books of mine in The Bookmark bookstore in San Patricio Plaza, I told one of the managers that I thought that Captain America: Civil War was what Batman v. Superman should have been. He was shocked by the comment, and said: “Ooooo… That hurt!” If you are the sort of person who likes the fights regardless of the story, you can disagree with me. Yet, I do care more about the story, because it gives the fight a meaning and a point.

If you have seen Batman v. Superman situations in comics or in the animated series (even the animated movies released by D.C.), you know that at the end of the day, it all comes down to the philosophical problem of fighting “along” government authorities against villains, how to deal with villains per-se, where you draw the line with your abilities or powers, and so on. You can even see this in The Dark Knight Returns graphic novel by Frank Miller (when he was still sane). I think that this idea is best developed in the Justice League animated series (especially Season 2), and brilliantly in the Justice League Unlimited animated series (especially Season 1). If you understand both Superman and Batman, you know that this is their basic difference, and the fight among both should have been about particular situations where both of their philosophies collide in practice, in the world arena.

Zack Snyder did not understand this when he directed Batman v. Superman. I don’t need to address the serious flaws of the movie, from the wacky “jokery” villain, to the unbelievable (in the negative sense of the word) reasons why Batman and Superman hated each other “to death”. Yet, if we were to mention the main flaw of the movie is this: everything feels forced. It is as if everyone acts in ways that don’t make any sense because the public is in the theater to watch a boxing match. Who cares about the story, right?! As a member of the public, I didn’t enjoy it much, simply because my mind kept nagging: “This looks cool and awesome, but why in the universe is this happening?” Then it wasn’t as cool or awesome as it should have been. Snyder wasted the chance completely. And since he didn’t develop the characters (especially Superman), I didn’t care whether anyone lived or died. As far as I could tell, these were two assholes and I hoped they killed each other.

Yet, in Captain America: Civil War, you already have developed characters (they had previous movies, and enough time for the public to know them). Even with this, the script writers didn’t use this as an excuse to stop developing them further, thus adding layers to a well-built tension among both groups of superheroes. Unlike Batman v. Superman, the movie exploits the best of what the actors had to offer. It deals also with a very important ethical matter: if you have all that power, and a lot of people die because of them, should it be regulated by governments or not? The whole movie mixes this problem with what, for the characters themselves, are very down-to-Earth situations, and this is where their philosophical views actually collide. I’ve seen these characters grow, I know them, I root for them, and to make matters more difficult, I actually understand their points of view, where did they come from, and how did they arrive to where they are. This is why I didn’t like to take sides regarding this issue. And even when I did (team Cap), I completely understood the other side. The main villain of the movie is not well developed, but at the very least the movie elaborates him enough so that you understand where he is coming from and why is he doing what he is doing. He is not a wacky Lex Luthor, but a mind who sets up a situation where main protagonists fight among themselves.

Not only that, but also the new characters (Black Panther and Spiderman) are enjoyable, and their scenes are easily some of the best parts of the movie. In the case of Spiderman, his contribution was creating a balance of tone in the movie, and Tom Holland did a great job playing this superhero … He did act like a teenager, like he should! For hormonal reasons, I also enjoyed Marisa Tomei as Aunt Mai … If I had an aunt like her … I would probably suffer from an expanded version of the Oedipus complex … but I digress! >ahem!<

That doesn’t mean that the movie is perfect. There was one annoying factor throughout it: the captions. My goodness! If you want to tell me that I am watching a scene in Queens or Bucharest, you don’t have to caption it ALL OVER THE SCREEN LIKE THIS to the point of covering the whole scene! It distracted me! Please, Marvel/Disney …. don’t do that again!!!!

I consider Captain America: Civil War as another lesson for D.C. regarding how to write a decent script. I recently learned the unfortunate news that Zack Snyder will be directing Justice League … Well, I can’t care any less about that at this stage. Marvel has done so much better on the big screen.

Sorry, D.C., but as far as movies in the big screen go, if Snyder is going to direct, I’ve given up on Justice League already.

P.S. – The Batman v. Superman review by the Nostalgia Critic and Angry Joe.

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The Last Supper - Tintoretto (1594)

When I used to be Roman Catholic, there was no ceremony or subject I would love more than the Eucharist, only followed by the devotion to Our Lady. It became the center of my religious life.

After I became a Religious Naturalist, my spirituality has changed considerably, although, some of my views are touched by drops of Eucharistic metaphors. While researching on Paul the Apostle for the publication of my book’s third edition, I found a perspective that apparently is becoming very popular in some Spanish scholarly circles. Unfortunately, due to the fact of language, many other Bible scholars around the world usually don’t engage very much with Spanish-speaking scholars or read works written in Spanish.

Antonio Piñero de Sáenz

Antonio Piñero de Sáenz

This perspective whose most visible representative figure in Spain is Antonio Piñero de Sáenz, I consider to be the most complete, sound, and thorough view on the Eucharist I have ever seen thus far. In these series on the Eucharist, I’m going to make an exposition of his views. I will also add a bit more information that might confirm them (I will note them so that people do not confuse his opinion with mine). The reason I’m doing this is because I detect a certain discomfort about this subject among scholars regarding the big elephant in the room, that the traditional story of the Eucharist has its actual roots in Paul, and not the Apostles, nor the Last Supper itself. I hope that I represent Piñero’s opinion accurately.

NOTE: I want to make clear that with these series I do NOT intend to present my position as being de facto superior to the opinions of the vast majority of scholars in the world. I think that I’m right, but another thing is if I am right. This is my opinion for the moment and an exposition of a respected scholar’s view that I think should get more attention in the English-speaking world. Yet, at the very end of the day, the consensus of Bible scholars is more authoritative than anything I write. I respect it! I am an outsider looking at what is going on in Bible scholarship. Do NOT take these blog series as being as authoritative as Biblical scholarship in general. On the contrary, be critical of everything I say. THAT said, let’s continue …


The Stories of the Last Supper

In this first blog, I would like to make an exposition of the stories of the Last Supper as they appear in the New Testament in chronological order.

Let’s start with the earliest one we have, which appears in one of Paul’s genuine letters (all quotes are from the NRSV):

For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way he took the cup also, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For as often as you eat and drink from this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes (1 Cor. 11:23-26).

1 Corinthians is treated by scholars as being one whole letter written by Paul, while others think that they are two letters edited into one. Whichever the position, the content of 1 Corinthians seems to have been written around the years 52-54 C.E. This constitutes the earliest story we have regarding the Last Supper.

Let’s explore the next one, which appears in the Gospel of Mark, written around 65-70 C.E.

While they were eating, [Jesus] took a loaf of bread, and after blessing it he broke it, gave it to them, and said, “Take; this is my body.” Then he took a cup, and after  giving thanks he gave it to them, and all of them drank from it. He said to them, “This is my blood of the covenant which is poured out for many. Truly I tell you, I will never again drink of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God” (Mark 14:22-25).

In the Gospel of Matthew, written around 80-90 C.E., we find a similar story.

While they were eating, Jesus took a loaf of bread, and after blessing it he broke it, gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you; for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you, I will never gain drink of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom” (Matthew 26:26-29).

For now, these three versions look very similar to each other in form, structure, and words. There are slight differences, but it is one basic story.

Finally, we have the Gospel of Luke, also written around 80-90 C.E. Here we notice that the story changes in very strange ways:

When the hour came, he took his place at the table, and the apostles with him. He said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; for I tell you, I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he said, “Take this and divide it among yourselves; for I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” Then he took the loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” And he did the same with the cup after supper, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood. But see, the one who betrays me is with me, and his hand is on the table. For the Son of Man is going as it has been determined but woe to the one by whom he is betrayed!” (Luke 22:14-23).

What makes this passage particularly interesting is the fact that Jesus blesses and offers the cup twice. What is going on in this case?


Earliest Sources on the Celebration of the Eucharist

What makes this issue a bit more interesting is the fact that we have some scarce news about the way the Eucharist was being celebrated at the time. Among them we find two (besides 1 Corinthians). One comes from the Acts of the Apostles, which expresses a very early tradition of the Jewish character of the Eucharist:

Awe came upon everyone, because many wonders and signs were being done by the apostles. All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need. Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their good with glad generous hearts, praising God and having the goodwill of all the people. And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved (Acts 2:43-47)

This passage talks about the “breaking of the bread” activity as a way to gather and share in community. Most scholars are careful with this passage, since it presents an excessively idealized situation that is later contradicted in that same book (e.g. Acts 6:1). Yet, in its story of the Eucharist, there is no allusion to any offering of  vicarian blood for others or atonement for the forgiveness of sins, and it also shows early Christians as being devoted Jews who celebrated in the Temple of Jerusalem.

The other more important source regarding the Eucharist comes from a text called the Didaché, also known as the Teachings of the Twelve Apostles, which many scholars date to the early or late second century C.E. The Lord’s Prayer appears there in its full version (Matthew’s) as well as several other important teachings and ceremonies. In it, we find the following, regarding the celebration of the Eucharist (from the New Advent, Catholic translation):

Now concerning the Thanksgiving (Eucharist), thus give thanks. First, concerning the cup: “We thank you, our Father, for the holy vine of David Your servant, which You made known to us through Jesus Your Servant; to You be the glory for ever.” And concerning the broken bread: “We thank You, our Father, for the life and knowledge which You made known to us through Jesus Your Servant; to You be the glory for ever. Even as this broken bread was scattered over the hills, and was gathered together and became one, so let Your Church be gathered together from the ends of the earth into Your kingdom; for Yours is the glory and the power through Jesus Christ for ever.” But let no one eat or drink of your Thanksgiving (Eucharist), but they who have been baptized into the name of the Lord; for concerning this also the Lord has said, “Give not that which is holy to the dogs” (Didaché IX).

This is mostly odd, given that it is the cup that is blessed and offered first, before the bread. And in none of the words of thanksgiving do we find any reference at all to Jesus’ vicarian sacrifice or forgiveness of sins.

Again, what is going on here?

Next Step: Beginning the Qualification of the Evidence

Maybe someone is asking: “What about John‘s version of events?” What is interesting regarding the Gospel of John is that it has a Last Supper, but has no blessing of the bread and wine, just a very long speech by Jesus (John 13-17). There may be a reason for this.  If you look at the passages in the Synoptic Gospels, we notice that they present the Last Supper as a Seder, that is, as a Passover meal. A Lamb is sacrificed the day before the Passover feasts begin, and then it is eaten afterwards. According to the Synoptics, this last part happened before the crucifixion. Yet, for John, the Lamb (i.e. Jesus Christ) would not be sacrificed until his crucifixion … the day before the Passover feasts begin. So there was no Eucharistic offering during the Last Supper. According to that Gospel, the moment of crucifixion would be the moment of glorification for “the Lamb of God Who takes away the sins of the world”. So, the main reason, why the thanksgiving does not appear in its version of events is for theological reasons.

Besides this very special case, we find ourselves with a bunch of problems with the data provided by Paul and the Synoptic Gospels. Let’s look at them carefully.

  • First, one of the most notorious things that we notice of Paul’s version of events is that he does not tell us at all if the Last Supper was a Seder or another sort of ceremonial meal. He only limits himself to say that it occurred the night when “he was betrayed”. Although this is the current and popular translation, the word usually translated as “betrayed” could also mean “delivered {to other hands}” or “handed over” (“παρεδίδετο” from the term “παραδίδωμι”), which could mean the night when God delivered Jesus to be sacrificed. Yet, we are not clear when exactly did this happen in relation to Passover.
  • The words attributed to Jesus in Paul’s version of events most probably were not pronounced by him. On the contrary, at best, this could be a later tradition elaborated after Jesus’ death, which was reinterpreted in light of the Suffering Servant’s expiatory act prophecy (Isaiah 53) by the Judeo-Christians in Palestine, which was later reinterpreted once again as a vicarian sacrifice in Judeo-Hellenistic circles. In here, I follow the conviction of many scholars, that it is plausible that Jesus did not know that he was going to be crucified as a way to sacrifice himself, and “spill blood” for everyone’s salvation (a vicarian notion of his death). The problem with this vicarian notion of Jesus’ death  is that not only did the Jews (including Jesus) NOT expect a Messiah who would be sacrificed, but that the notion of vicarian death was most probably regarded as Pagan, and foreign to Palestinian Jews in general.
  • This leads us to the next problem. Not only the words, but also the very steps with which Jesus blesses and offers the bread and the cup, seems to break with ceremonial Jewish meals in a very radical manner.  In a Seder meal or in a kiddush, you find that the wine is blessed first and then the bread. Note that the Didaché version of the celebration of the Eucharist respects the kiddush order of events, even when the traditional story of the Last Supper reverses both. The words of prayer in the Didaché are also remarkably close to the ones pronounced as a Birkat ha-Mazon (a Grace after Meals as was practiced in Judaism).  The Synoptics’ main story also have a strange Passover meal, because there is no reference at all to the sacrificed lamb being consumed, nor is there any reference at all to the bitter herbs.
  • The fact that early Christians celebrated the Eucharist on a daily or weekly basis may be a sign that it was not originally celebrated as a Passover meal (which would have been celebrated yearly). The fact that nothing in the Didaché version makes any allusion to Passover reinforces this conviction.
  • The Gospels in general give different days for when the Last Supper occurred. For Mark, it happened in the day of the first day of Unleavened Bread, which he describes as the day when the Passover lamb was sacrificed (Mark 14:12). Actually, the lamb was sacrificed the day before. Yet, Matthew and Luke agree with MarkJohn disagrees for theological reasons … but ironically he might be closer to the truth. This is highly problematic, because later all of the Synoptic Gospels argue that Jesus was processed during a Passover feast day, which is highly improbable. The Jewish leadership would have been busy with Temple rituals and ceremonies, and would not have much time to address Jesus’ prosecution. If the Synoptics present the Last Supper as a Passover meal, it is most probably (also) for theological or a apologetical reasons: perhaps a memory of the nearness of Passover when Jesus was crucified, and the fact that gentile Christians began to not celebrate the Passover, and needed to justify it. After all, according to Luke, Jesus told his disciples that he wouldn’t celebrate the “Passover meal” again until the Kingdom of God is realized. Speaking of which …
  • When we go to MarkMatthew, and Luke, we notice something that Paul’s version lacks, the following words of Jesus: “I will never again drink of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.” This might be a hint of history, given that Jesus always compared God’s Kingdom with a collective meal (Q [Luke] 13:29; 14:15-21,23; Luke 22:29-30). It would indicate that the Last Supper may have been a sort of “farewell” meal.

What do we do with all of this? This is what these series are all about. But for now, let’s make some several statements:

  • Jesus’ crucifixion was a historical fact, there is no dispute among scholars about this. Yet, if there was a process by the Jewish authorities and by Pontius Pilate leading to his death, most probably it took much more than one evening and day, and the Gospels seem to have shrunk the whole story to one evening and day. Most possibly the crucifixion happened near the feast of Passover, perhaps the day before.
  • There are huge problems interpreting Jesus’ activity as being a “Passover meal”. It is better understood at a historical level as a kiddush celebrated as a farewell meal. This is the basic tradition preserved by the Didaché, and (as I will argue in my next blog), the Gospel of Luke.
  • There are also huge problems with the assumption that Jesus blessed the bread first and the cup second, while claiming that the former was his body and that the latter contained his blood (understood in expiatory or vicarian terms). Simply speaking, it is highly improbable that Jesus would have said these words.

Where did Jesus’ words come from? Our earliest source seems to mention exactly where it comes from:  from Paul’s own revelatory experiences. Jesus as he experienced him in his vision, revealed this story. Not every scholar accepts this interpretation. For example, we must take into account the criteria of multiple attestation that we find in the New Testament:  that multiple sources confirm the story. The word that Paul uses for receiving the information (“παρέλαβον” from the term “παραλαμβάνω”), seems to imply that it was transmitted as a result of an oral tradition whose source he believed was the Lord. Can these reasoning be contested? Piñero and others think so.

Then what really happened during the Last Supper? This will be examined in the next blog posts of these series. For now, let’s convene that apparently most scholars agree that the Last Supper was no Seder.


Boff, Leonardo. Pasión de Cristo, pasión del mundo. Hechos, interpretaciones y significados. Ayer y hoy. Santander: Ediciones Sal Terrae, 1987.

Ehrman, Bart. “Does Paul Know about Judas Iscariot?” The Bart Ehrman Blog. December 9, 2015.

Klawans, Jonathan. “Was Jesus’ Last Supper a Seder?” in Biblical Archaeology. July 01, 2014.

Mazza, Enrico. The Celebration of the Eucharist: The Origin of the Rite and the Development of Its Interpretation. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1999.

Piñero, Antonio. Guía para entender a Pablo de Tarso. Una interpretación del pensamiento paulino. Madrid: Editorial Trotta, 2015.

Piñero, Antonio y Eugenio Gómez Segura, editores. La verdadera historia de la Pasión. Según la investigación y el estudio histórico. Madrid: EDAF, 2011.

Riddle, M.B. and Kevin Knight, translators. Didaché. From Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 7. Edited by Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Coxe. Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1886.

Vidal, Senén. Hechos de los Apóstoles y orígenes cristianos. Santander: Editorial Sal Terrae, 2015.

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Portada de Pablo el Emisario

Quería informarles vía mi blog que ya se ha publicado la tercera edición de mi libro Pablo el Emisario. Para los detalles en torno a dónde lo pueden conseguir o dónde descargarlo gratis, visiten su página cibernética:

Los que hayan leído las dos ediciones anteriores (aquí está el acceso a la segunda edición) y esta nueva edición se sorprenderán de varias cosas. Lo primero que salta a la vista fue el añadido de ilustraciones y gráficas en el texto. En parte, mi intención era estética. Un libro con ilustraciones hace más agradable la lectura. Sin embargo, no quería añadir demasiadas, no fuera que resultara ser una distracción y que tuviera como resultado una lectura del contenido mucho más difícil. Además, haría la edición a colores (la edición de lujo) mucho más hermosa. Sin embargo, una gran parte de estas iban más allá del puro aspecto estético. Como en el caso del Apéndice C, ayudan al lector a ilustrar parte de la discusión del texto. Así también el caso del retrato de la Caverna de Santa Tecla, que presenta una evidencia física del desprecio de ciertos cristianos al ministerio o autoridad de las mujeres en el cristianismo medieval. La ilustración no se discute en el texto, pero da una idea de lo que ocurrió después de que el cristianismo del primer y segundo siglo fue marginando a las mujeres del ministerio y las subordinaba a la autoridad de los hombres.

Han habido toda una variedad de cambios al texto y, aunque las tesis principales no varían mucho, ha habido una elaboración más detalladas de estas. En otros casos, ha habido unos cambios radicales en otras posiciones. La más notable la pueden encontrar en el capítulo 6, en relación con la cristología paulina. Antes adopté una posición en la que supuse que una cristología paulina que sostuviera a Jesús como Dios era demasiado temprana para ser supuesta por Pablo, por lo que adopté la posición de Senén Vidal y otros en relación con el tema. Tras el estudio del libro de Bart Ehrman, How Jesus Became God, del libro de Susan Garrett, No Ordinary Angel y finalmente la lectura de los libros de Larry Hurtado, ¿Cómo llegó Jesús a ser Dios?One God, One Lord, cambié de parecer. No solo la convicción de que Jesús era Dios era temprana en el cristianismo primitivo, sino que sostengo que fue la teología sostenida por el movimiento de Jesús como resultado de la proclamación de su resurrección, tal como presenta Hecho de los Apóstoles en un momento dado (Hechos 5:30-31; 13:32-33).

El otro cambio sustancial tiene que ver con la llamada “Nueva perspectiva” de Pablo, en la que se le concibe como judío practicante y observante de la Torah después de sus experiencias revelatorias y cambio de vocación. Para él, se le eximía a los gentiles (no a los judíos, incluyéndolo a él) de la observancia de ciertas disposiciones de la Torah. En varios capítulos enfatizo este punto cardinal que adopté como parte del planteamiento central del libro.

También hubo otro cambio bien importante. En el 2015, Senén Vidal publicó su excelentísima traducción del Nuevo Testamento y la utilicé como texto para citar el Nuevo Testamento cristiano.

En cuanto al resto del libro:

  1. En el capítulo 1 no hubo cambios sustanciales, pero sí correcciones de contenido y de descuidos gramaticales. Pulí el estilo para que fuera más fácil su lectura. Hice lo mismo en los demás capítulos.
  2. En el capítulo 2 tampoco hubo cambios sustanciales.
  3. En el capítulo 3, tampoco hubo cambio sustancial de contenido excepto una porción del texto que entendía que entorpecía un poco la línea de discusión en torno a las razones de las persecuciones de Pablo al cristianismo primitivo. Lo discutido en dicha porción se colocó en el Apéndice A.
  4. En el capítulo 4 podemos observar ya unos cambios de parecer en torno a una diversidad de temas. Esto se dio como resultado de mi lectura de diversas obras del filólogo español Antonio Piñero: Guía para entender el Nuevo TestamentoGuía para entender a Pablo de Tarso, La verdadera historia de la Pasión (coautoría junto a Eugenio Gómez Segura) y El Juicio Final (coautoría junto a Eugenio Gómez Segura).
    En la primera y segunda ediciones de mi libro asocié equivocadamente la noción expiatoria del Siervo Sufriente como la comprendían los cristianos primitivos con la noción de sacrificio (derrame de sangre) vicario. Algunos eruditos también hacen lo mismo y pensaba que esa era la posición mayoritaria (aunque en realidad es un poco disputada). Sin embargo, Piñero informa que el primero sí era consistente con el contexto judío, mientras que el segundo no. Aunque no muchos eruditos siguen esa línea de pensamiento (que creo que para muchos es novel), creo que su argumento es sólido.
    También cometí el error de acercar demasiado las cosmovisiones de Jesús y la de Pablo. Eso me llevó a no aclarar una diferencia fundamental entre la manera en que Jesús concebía el Reino de Yahveh (como terrenal) y la de Pablo (como celestial). De hecho, ahora acepto lo que no aceptaba en las ediciones anteriores: que Pablo sí ha sido influenciado en mayor grado (más de lo que inicialmente pensaba) por la filosofía helenística. Aunque no creo que el fuera filósofo (y continúo sosteniendo esta posición), sí creo lo que Piñero sostiene: que Pablo fue influenciado por una especie de “platonismo vulgar” característico de su ambiente helenístico y que afectó el pensamiento del judaísmo de la diáspora en general.
    Por lo demás, menciono las citas directas e indirectas de Jesús que encontramos en Pablo y añadí una concerniente a la convicción del favor de la otorgación del conocimiento divino a los humildes y no a los sabios.
  5. Otro de los grandes cambios se pueden notar en el capítulo 5. Pensé que en las ediciones anteriores dejé un gran “hueco” en la discusión en torno a las iglesias y congregaciones primitivas. ¿Cómo estaban constituidas? ¿Cuál fue el proceso de su establecimiento? ¿Cómo se estructuraron carismáticamente las congregaciones judeohelenistas como las de Corinto? (En este último punto contribuyó mucho la lectura de un ensayo de Juan Bek) El resto del capítulo es prácticamente idéntico a las ediciones anteriores.
  6. El capítulo 6 (que ya discutimos un poco), trabaja otro “hueco” que quedó de mis ediciones anteriores. El cristianismo primitivo sostenía una gran diversidad de cristologías (lo que yo llamo “sopa de cristologías primitivas”) y las identifico. Más tarde, trabajo el problema de cómo Pablo entendía a Cristo como deidad y su relación con el Padre. Como nota interesante, añado una posible reciente interpretación: que para Pablo, Jesús era un ángel (mensajero divino). Elaboro los detalles que parecen justificar esta perspectiva, aunque me muestro indeciso en torno al asunto. Puede ser posible que Pablo viera en Jesús un ángel (quizás el Ángel de Yahveh), pero no hay realmente pasajes claros de ello. A pesar de ello, no deja de ser una perspectiva muy interesante.
  7. En el capítulo 7, correspondiente al capítulo 6 de mis ediciones anteriores, hago unas pequeñas correcciones, pero fundamentalmente no altera mucho el texto.
  8. En el capítulo 8, correspondiente al capítulo 7 de las ediciones anteriores, no hubo muchos cambios, fuera de correcciones menores.
  9. En el capítulo 9, correspondiente al capítulo 8 de las ediciones anteriores, tampoco hubo cambios significativos.
  10. En el capítulo 10, que corresponde al capítulo 9 de las ediciones anteriores, sí sufrió cambios. El más evidente es el título del capítulo y la inclusión del tema de la llamada “obsesión paulina” en relación con la virginidad. El capítulo se encarga de ponerla en perspectiva. Además, quise adentrarme en el tema de la supuesta homosexualidad de Pablo con un mayor sentido de justicia con mis oponentes y utilizo uno de los textos del obispo Shelby Spong como referente de su posición. Utilizando su obra, muestro que el obispo Spong y los que sostienen que Pablo era homosexual están rotundamente equivocados. Cuando discuto el tema de cómo Pablo trata el tema de la homosexualidad, utilicé información adicional que cayó en mis manos gracias a la reciente publicación de E. P. Sanders, Paul: The Apostle’s Life, Letters, and Thought.
  11. El capítulo 11 es uno enteramente nuevo y que intenta responder a diversas vertientes del miticismo que tanto se ha vuelto de moda en los círculos ateos, agnósticos y escépticos. Después de leerlo, me doy cuenta de lo irritado que estaba cuando lo escribí, pero sostengo cada palabra que aparece allí. Para ser justo, reconozco una vertiente más sensata de un sector más académico y la distingo de la otra que es más producto de falseamiento decimonónico de la historia antigua, que pinta al cristianismo casi como una copia al carbón de las religiones antiguas de todo el mundo. La segunda es sencillamente falsa y no requiere discusión alguna. La primera, aunque más sofisticada, merecía una contestación más precisa. Sin embargo, solo me concentré en la manera en que se abusa de las cartas de Pablo para sostener las dos vertientes.
  12. Este también es un capítulo casi completamente nuevo en el que elaboro mi hipótesis de que Pablo no era filósofo, que esa era una imagen creada por Hechos de los Apóstoles, entre otros factores. Sin embargo, las cartas de Pablo muestran que era un judeohelenista apocalipticista del siglo I y todo su pensamiento giraba dentro de esa cosmovisión, no a las diversas filosofías helenísticas. Aunque sí hay que admitir una influencia de un “platonismo vulgar” que se reflejaba en la cultura judeohelenista en general, no pasaba de eso. Pablo despreciaba la filosofía.

Además de lo anterior, añado una serie de apéndices. El Apéndice B muestra una serie de confesiones y credos valiosos que se pueden encontrar en las cartas paulinas. En la discusión de la Última Cena, me atreví a añadir la discusión minoritaria en el ámbito de la erudición bíblica (pero a mi juicio correcta) del Dr. Piñero. Sin embargo, en el momento de la publicación pasó inadvertida una aclaración que debí haber hecho:

  • El Dr. Piñero no parece sostener que los versos de Lucas 22:19b-20 fueron añadidos posteriormente. Sin embargo, lo que  quise decir, es que el hecho de que varios eruditos consideren este pasaje una interpolación posterior, sostiene mucho mejor su hipótesis de que el relato más conocido de la Última Cena se remite a Pablo y sus experiencias revelatorias (y que él no estaba transmitiendo una tradición de otros) y que Jesús originalmente celebró un kiddush.

Aunque he querido atenerme lo mejor posible a las posiciones consensuadas entre los expertos bíblicos, la argumentación de Piñero en este caso es TAN sólida, que creo que debería prestársele mucha mayor atención.

En el Apéndice C, elaboro más, pero con brevedad, la hipótesis de Richard Elliott Friedman y otros biblistas del Antiguo Testamento de que los levitas fueron los que originalmente “experimentaron” el llamado “Éxodo” y no todo el pueblo israelita. Utilizo como referencia el Himno del Mar.

Finalmente, en el Apéndice D, elaboro un poco más ciertas observaciones en torno al Canto de Déborah.

Espero que les guste el nuevo texto y que estoy abierto a cualquier crítica racional y constructiva al respecto.


Showing Jesus’ Historical Existence – 1

On April 22, 2016, in History, Religion, by prosario2000

Recently, I’ve been involved in some debates online regarding Jesus’ existence. One of them was in the Facebook account of, regarding this particular (bogus) article. I’ve refuted some of these claims before in a previous post written some years before my deconversion from Roman Catholicism, and my opinion on this matter hasn’t changed in the least.

Since, I’ve already refuted the claim, I want to make a more positive approach, that is, to present clear cases where the mythicist views of Jesus clearly fail, and the evidence for Jesus’ existence is positive. I want to begin with one of the known but least discussed stories about Jesus: his baptism.


The Texts We Will Evaluate

There are no first-century texts outside the New Testament about Jesus’ baptism. The Gospel claims are pretty much all we have for now. Before we begin, we must remember the way they were written. The earliest Gospel we have is the Gospel of Mark (ca. 70 C.E.). The Gospel of Matthew and the Gospel of Luke were written later using Mark as a source, but also using another one scholars call Q. Even though Q is a hypothetical document, most scholars consider its existence as highly probable. For many, Q took its final form about the year 60 or 65 C.E.  Matthew and Luke were written about 80 to 90 C.E.  It is said that these gospels also had some other sources that scholars have called M and L respectively. The last of these first century writings is the Gospel of John (ca. 90-100 C.E.)  What do these Gospels have to say?  Let’s have a look (all of our quotes are from the New Revised Standard Version).

The Gospel of Mark

What follows is our earliest account of Jesus’ baptism:

In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John [the Baptist] in the Jordan. And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased” (Mark 1:9-11).


The Gospel of Matthew

Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan, to be baptized by him. John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now; for it is proper for us in this way to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented. And when Jesus had baptized, just as he came up from the water, suddenly the heavens were opened to him and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased” (Matt. 3:13-17).


The Gospel of Luke

So, with many other exhortations, [John the Baptist] proclaimed the good news to the people. But Herod the ruler, who had been rebuked by him because of Herodias, his brother’s wife, and because of all the evil things that Herod had done, added to them all by shutting up John in prison.

Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from the heaven: “You are my Son, today I have begotten you” (Luke 3:18-22, I have adopted the rare text as the most probable original, for more on this read Bart D. Ehrman’s The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture).


The Gospel of John

The next day [John the Baptist] saw Jesus coming toward him and declared, “Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!  This is he whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks ahead of me because he was before me.’ I myself did not know him; but I came baptizing with water for this reason, that he might be revealed to Israel.” And John testified, “I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ And I myself have seen and have testified that this is the Son of God” (John 1:29-34).

I hear some of you saying:

—“That’s it?!”

Me: “Yep, that’s it!”

—“But doesn’t John tell us the story of Jesus’ baptism?”

—“As I’ll show you, that’s exactly part of the evidence … John does NOT tell us anything about Jesus’ baptism. And THAT fact is a great piece of this puzzle.”

Qualifying the Evidence

Qualifying Mark

Historians in general do not immediately suppose that whatever they read in a document is true. Quite the contrary. As Bart Ehrman has argued in his most recent book, eye-witness testimony is very unreliable. Yet, none of these Gospels come from eye-witnesses, but have received these traditions from earlier sources by word of mouth. Mark was written 40 years after the events, so that means that this took at least 40 years of oral tradition to reach the author of Mark. And THAT is a problem. We must keep this in mind when using this Ancient writing.

Yet, that does not mean that we cannot get some historical facts out of it. For instance, what was the purpose of the Gospel of Mark? Answer:  to show that Jesus is indeed the Messiah. How do we know that this was the purpose?  Simple. If you read all of that text you will realize that it has one very basic literary theme: that Jesus was the Messiah, but the people who heard him did not get that he was the Messiah, because Jesus didn’t want it revealed to the public; and that he also got upset with those who were close to him, because they didn’t understand his Messianic role.  Regarding the first part of the theme, we can see that Jesus often gets angry when people (and demons) confessed his Messianic role public; he literally tells them to shut up, and, despite the fact that later his fame spread like wild-fire (e.g. Mark 1:23-28,32-34,40-45; 3:10-12; 5:42-43; 8:11-13,22-26, 27-30). It is as if Mark were showing this particular fact about Jesus as “a secret” that he didn’t want to be known.

We could ask, why was there such an insistence on Mark. Think about it!  If Mark was written to convince people that Jesus was the Messiah, but shows him forbidding everyone to tell this “secret”, then what the text is doing is providing the readers the reason why Jesus never publicly proclaimed himself to be the Messiah! Notice that already the theory of Jesus’ non-existence starts to crumble. Someone may ask,

–“But wait! Didn’t everyone watch the heavens open and the Spirit speak?”

Ummm… no!  Read again the texts of Mark and Matthew. According to them only Jesus saw the heavens open up and watch the Spirit descend on him!

So, here is our first historical fact that happened to be very inconvenient to Christians: the historical Jesus never publicly claimed to be the Messiah or Son of God. These were claims made after he died. The Gospel of Mark was written to explain away this problem. If Jesus didn’t exist, then it would be hard to explain why the author of Mark wrote his Gospel as if he actually existed but never publicly claimed to be the Messiah. Why wouldn’t he have written the Gospel in such a way as if he did announce it?!

Yet, there is still another inconvenience in our story: Jesus’ own baptism! Isn’t Jesus’ vision of the Holy Spirit descend and proclaim his Sonship as convenient? Actually, no. If you read the first chapter of Mark in its entirety, you find what the writer had to say about John’s activity as a baptizer:

John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized to him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins (Mark 1:4-5).

Why would Mark or any Christian at the time make up the story that Jesus was baptized if John’s baptism was for the repentance from sins? In their view, would it be acceptable that the Messiah repented from sins?  Obviously, there is a problem.  How can we explain this from a historical standpoint?

It is clear just from this text that before Jesus’ ministry, he began as John’s disciple who repented from his sins and was baptized (our second historical conclusion). Mark‘s story about Jesus’ vision was apologetic, he wanted to explain away why despite the fact that the “Messiah wasn’t a sinner”, he let himself be baptized. For Mark‘s author, Jesus was not baptized because he was a sinner, but because was going to adopted by God as His Son with this act. Mark wanted to persuade readers why, despite the fact that John’s baptism was about the repentance of sins, Jesus could still be considered the Messiah.

But wait … why didn’t Mark just omit the whole story of Jesus’ baptism in the first-place?!  Again, take into consideration that this is the earliest Gospel. This means that most probably some of the eye-witnesses to Jesus’ baptism could be living at the time, and someone like the author of Mark could not deny this simple fact. He needed to address this inconvenient fact when confronted by other people like, let’s say, John the Baptists’ disciples that still persisted at the time, or from other Jews who were acquainted with that same information. After all, Christianity’s custom of baptism clearly derived from John the Baptist’s activity, right?!

From Mark‘s text, we can also see that it omitted any reference to Jesus’ own activity as John’s disciple. As we can also observe, Jesus began his ministry, shortly after John was arrested (our third historical fact, Mark 1:14).


Qualifying Matthew and Luke

The confirmation of the Christian embarrassment regarding Jesus’ baptism doesn’t stop with Mark, but continues with the gospels of Matthew and Luke. We can see that clearly they borrowed their respective stories from Mark. Let’s have a look at Matthew‘s account first.

One of the things that we notice at first glance is that Matthew‘s author adds a small dialogue between John the Baptist and Jesus. This exchange is made to address a concern that he attributes to John, but obviously is everyone‘s question when reading about Jesus being baptized, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?”.  In other words, “Hey!  You are the Messiah!  You are above me!  You are sinless and blameless! If anything, this poor sinner should be baptized by YOU!” The account gives us Jesus’ (non)answer to his question: “Let it be so now; for it is proper for us in this way to fulfill all righteousness.”

Why did Matthew include this awkward eye-brow-raising dialogue? Because, as in Mark’s case, he tried to explain away the reason for Jesus’ baptism:  it’s all God’s will, so that Jesus’ sonship will be revealed.

But the embarrassment in Matthew doesn’t stop there!  Matthew shares with Luke a story not found in Mark, which is a strong indicator that it comes from Q. After John was arrested, Q tells us this story:

When John heard [about all of these things], he sent word by his disciples and said to him, “Are you the one who is to come,  or are we to wait for another?” When the men had come to him, they said, “John the Baptist has sent us to you to ask, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?'” … And [Jesus]  answered them, “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the [skin-diseased] are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have good news brought to them. And blessed is anyone who takes no offense at me.” (Luke 7:18-23; Matt. 11:2-6)

At first, we might be impressed by Jesus’ claim, but the most embarrassing section is the first part of the story.  Any attentive reader should stop and say: “Wait a minute! In Matthew‘s story of Jesus’ baptism, John knew perfectly well who Jesus’ was!  Now he is asking if he’s the Messiah?!  What is going on!” Scholars in general agree that this story contains what is perhaps a core historical event, when John really questioned whether his disciple, Jesus, was “the one who is to come”, the Son of Man or the Messiah. There is no certainty whether Jesus’ reply is historical or not, although it does seem to resemble apocalypticist language very well, as we can attest with the Dead Sea Scrolls. The story itself as a whole served both gospels in order to confirm their views of Jesus as the Messiah, but at the expense of revealing a historical inconvenience:  that John did not know that Jesus was the Messiah (our fourth historical fact).

As a matter of fact, Q’s story seems more coherent in Luke. There is no dialogue between John and Jesus in that text, and, most interestingly, there is no case of John baptizing Jesus in that gospel. Jesus was baptized, yes … but after John’s arrest. In other words, Luke is establishing a distance between John’s activities and Jesus’ baptism, so that it no longer looks as if Jesus was baptized because of his repentance of sins, which is what John proclaimed.

Yet, if we look thoroughly at Luke (that rhymed!), how come John never knew that Jesus was the Messiah, if chapters 1 and 2 made them cousins?  They should have known each other!  Yet, as many scholars have pointed out, it seems that its author’s original project intended to begin his gospel with chapter 3. After finishing his work (whether in that edition or a later one), the same author added chapters 1 and 2. As many scholars have pointed out, these chapters are too fantastic and too inconsistent with historical data to be historically reliable. Luke‘s author’s original intention was to present Jesus’ sonship as God’s adoption at the very moment of Jesus’ baptism. Yet, he went further back, and justified his sonship because he was the fruit of the Holy Spirit. So, in Luke‘s “original project”, apparently he made it as to make John totally oblivious regarding Jesus’ status as the Messiah.


Qualifying John

As we have pointed out, there is no story of Jesus’ baptism in the Gospel of John. As many scholars know, many times when John omits information that is found in the Synoptic Gospels, it usually is a form of denial. For instance, in all three Synoptic Gospels we find the scene of Jesus’ agony in the garden, either throwing himself at the floor or kneeling, and asking God to keep his future suffering away from him (Mark 14:32-42; Matt. 26:36-46; Luke 22:40-46). Yet, in John we find no agony at all! On the contrary, the soldiers are the ones who throw themselves to the floor when Jesus reveals his divinity when he says “I am” (John 18:1-11). At one point in the Gospel, Jesus even denies that he is going to ask God to keep the crucifixion away from him (in John it is portrayed as his “moment of glorification”; John 12:27-28).

Notice also that this time, Jesus is not the one who sees the Holy Spirit, but John the Baptist! In other words, John recognizes Jesus as being the Messiah, does not baptize him,  and has the vision revealing him to be the Messiah. Being the one to write the Gospel at the very end of the first century C.E. has its advantages … the main one is that despite the gospel writer’s evident conflict with the disciples of John the Baptists, none of them are eye-witnesses of the event … hence none of them can deny the “truth” as John understands it.


All of the evidence thus far screams for Jesus’ historicity as the best explanation for the way these texts have been written. Mythicists really have a very, VERY hard time explaining all of these texts from their standpoint. Some people might say that the story of John the Baptist as a whole is a carbon-copy of Horus’ Anup’s the Baptizer. People who argue this way forget two things:

  • The story of Anup baptizing the god Horus is a hoax. Scholars all over the world have recognized it as being a complete fabrication from late 19th or early 20th century so-called “scholars” who wanted to make up evidence to “disprove” Christianity’s “lies and fabrications”. People who keep believing that the Horus’ thing nonsense is true will never know the irony!
  • The historicity of John the Baptist is well attested, not only by the Gospels, but also by external sources such as Josephus’ writings, particularly, Antiquities of the Jews. The way he is portrayed in that writing has convinced scholars that this was not a later addition by Christian hands. There is no debate that this is Josephus’ actual story about him.

From all of our analysis we can state the following as the most probable historical theory about Jesus:

  • He existed.
  • He probably began his apocalypticist journey by being a follower of John the Baptist.
  • Jesus was baptized by John, because he believed that he was a sinner, and repented.
  • After John was arrested, Jesus began his ministry.
  • It seems that at no point Jesus proclaimed publicly that he was the Messiah.
  • John the Baptist didn’t know that his disciple, Jesus, was the Messiah.

All of this tells us that Christians found Jesus’ baptism by John as being highly embarrassing to the point of us being able to see the efforts of explaining it away, or denying that Jesus was baptized by John, or even that he was not baptized at all! All of this only makes sense if he was actually baptized, which would inevitably mean that Jesus existed!

We will keep exploring more in the series. For now, just be aware that from just this post alone, we have established the unequivocal existence of Jesus, not only as the most probable theory, but as a very strong one.

For these, and many other reasons, scholars in general no longer argue about his existence. It is non-issue!

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I was going to write about my problems with Batman v. Superman movie, but others have expressed themselves better than me. I think that this article makes the very best reasons why BvS fails.

However, I want to write about what is screaming in my mind for some time now, and was voiced by a friend of mine online. I have the feeling that Batman has been ruined “forever” in the most recent DC world on the screen. I want to be clear that Ben Affleck is not responsible for this at all. If anything, he has proven to be a GREAT actor in BvS, and he should feel proud of it. I also want to say that almost all of the actors in this movie did GREAT, and did their very best with the mess of script given to them.

Yet, after watching the movie, as I thought about it time and again, I realized that the damage done to Batman in the film is beyond repair. Only two persons are to blame for this: Zack Snyder and, most especially, Frank Miller.

Miller has had a reputable history with comic books. I remember when I was young, I read for the first time one of his most popular graphic novels: Batman: Year One. If it were not for the fact I was so irritated with him right now, I would love for people to buy it. I also loved the animated feature version on DVD. I am less warm, but still OK, with The Dark Knight Returns graphic series. You can actually see some references to these in films. Christopher Nolan was inspired by Batman: Year One in many ways (like the use of bats for Batman to escape from the police). In BvS, you can see places where Snyder reminisces about some iconic scenes from The Dark Knight Returns.

Despite this fact, in the most recent years, Miller has changed for the worse, especially in the (in)famous All Star Batman and Robin (ASBAR) series, where Batman is literally presented as a psychopath with certain pedophilic desires, and whose detective abilities are close to zero. All of this is mixed with the most sexist versions of women possible, mixed with a Superman who is an a**hole. Don’t believe me? Here … watch these reviews made by Linkara in Atop the Fourth Wall regarding these series.

And THAT is the main problem we see in BvS.

Not taking into account that Frank Miller is behind its scenes and this newest version of Batman, will lead some people to have some misconceptions about Snyder’s intentions with the character.  For instance, in one of the trailers and the movie we see this:

Robin's Suit in BvS

Robin’s Suit in BvS

This is the Robin suit, which has been painted by the Joker. Yet, look at Robin’s weapon.  In the so-called “canonical” graphic novels, usually Robin is seen with a quarterstaff, but here, there is a different sort of weapons. The best guess made by anyone online about this object states that it is a sort of Halberd. It is a staff with a spear, and a sort of “axe-like” point that is deadly.

I want to show this because it goes to the heart of what is going on in Snyder’s version of Batman. I’ve heard too many times online that Batman “became more brutal” and “crossed the line of his own former code of ethics” when “Robin was killed by the Joker”.  I say that this reasoning is total B.S.  If you look at the Robin suit, you’ll see that Robin must have been just as brutal before his own death. His weapon is reminiscent of ASBAR (#7), when Batman gave Robin (aka “Dick Grayson, age twelve”) a choice in order for the latter to be “an avenger or a detective”, i.e. kill his parents’ killer with an axe or not (at least as I understood the pseudo-choice).

Batman is damaged beyond repair. Apparently, he has been a killer all of this time, and has taught Robin to do the same! And THAT was the reason why Snyder selected this particular view of Batman, because only this Batman would irrationally choose to kill Superman … no matter what!

It is not clear in BvS that by not killing Superman (because of coincidence of their respective moms’ names), Batman will stop killing altogether, but I can say this: Batman is no superhero in this film. He has no moral high ground in any way. He is just a mindless avenger with a very small mental capacity to be a detective.

Snyder has no understanding at all of these characters … and honestly, DC and Marvel must stop hiring Frank Miller.  His best years have been over a long time ago. I think that no amount of effort invested in this new version of Batman will “fix” this character.

Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice

Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice

OKAY!!! OKAY!!!! …. I’m going to talk about the Batman v. Superman (BvS) disas … oops… I mean … movie. Jeez!!! ~ Shaking my head ~ Sigh ~.

When I was little, I grew up with the Adam West version of Batman, and the Superfriends version of Superman. The former was too silly and the latter just lacked all personality and character (if it were not for the uniforms and the powers, you could literally interchange any of the superheroes with any of the others in those cartoon series, and you wouldn’t notice the difference).

The Superman being presented to us in both Man of Steel and Batman v. Superman is another example of the latter. I hoped that in this movie you would watch far more character development than Man of Steel had. Nope. It focused more on developing Bruce Wayne/Batman! So, in that sense I was disappointed. I also was upset at the fact that I didn’t see the relationship between Clark and Lois develop. She still continues being an emotional support for Superman (something that I like about her), but there is nothing beyond that. I also wish that she stopped playing the role of “Damsel in distress” (she played it too frequently in BvS).

If you are too worried about Ben Affleck being Batman, you can place your concerns to rest. As many of you have already noted in several non-spoiling reviews, Affleck is very easily the best Batman on screen to date. I can guarantee you, that in terms of acting, he is a shining star that will convince you that he is both Bruce Wayne *and* Batman. The fight scenes involving him are the most enjoyable moments in the movie.

If you are also worried that Gal Gadot does terrible as Wonder Woman, place also those concerns to rest. She does GREAT! If there is some hope that was fulfilled by the movie is the one I was whining about all of these years: that I wanted to see a WARRIOR Wonder Woman and not a “babe”, that Snyder should concentrate more on the fact that she is an Amazon, and worry less about “sexy outfits”. Gadot does NOT disappoint at all. All of us who complained about her not being the best choice for the role, can be considered hit on the face by Zack Snyder.

THAT BEING SAID, I want to identify the main reasons why this movie failed (at least for me):

  1. As I mentioned before, there is no character development on Superman. This will be the main reason why the emotional impact of the ending of the movie was not as great as should have been. (And what does happen? Well … I can’t say, because of the “no spoiler” thing … But if you think about it, hey!… We all know that Doomsday is in the movie, right? And if you are a comic book fan, you KNOW what THAT means!)
  2. Even when every scene with Batman is enjoyable, and I loved Jeremy Irons as Alfred, I can’t help to note how irrational Bruce Wayne’s feelings are. Snyder rescues what Batman should have been in Christopher Nolan’s _Dark Knight_ trilogy: not exactly a “symbol of hope” (that properly Superman’s role), but a man who is moved by the grief of crime and the loss of his parents. That’s fine! … BUT, I understand that this movie goes too far with it. Sometimes it seems that Batman is suffering from a super-duper-hyper-non-plus-ultra PTSD. And I understand that he was traumatized with the impact of Superman’s fight with Zod …. but (MY GOD!) even to the point of not really caring about more immediate and much more serious threats than Superman?! Sorry, but I don’t buy it! His whole emotional motive to kill Superman seems too forced in the movie. At several points I thought that Batman was great with technology, but that his detective thinking was sometimes reduced to zero. I can’t say specifically what do do I mean, because that would drive me to spoil some stuff.
  3. The Lex Luthor in this movie was a GREAT disappointment for me. Yes, he does a lot of evil, but when he took steps for it, my mind was telling me: “Why did he do that? … There was no reason to do that … THAT DOESN’T MAKE ANY SENSE…. Why is he doing that???!!!!” For a bad guy to be compelling, he must not drive your pinky finger to your mouth and say: “I’m evil! Bwhuwhahahahaha!!!” NO! He or she must give me *a reason* for the madness. Give me SOMETHING! However, this Lex Luthor not only has zero motivation for what he is doing, but he is also the WORST Lex EVER! It seems as if Zack Snyder threw in the mixer Heath Ledger’s Joker, Jim Carrey, Jesse Eisenberg’s acting, lame Manichean cosmology, Nietzsche’s lamest views, and turned it on. Whatever came out of that, is BvS’s Lex Luthor!
  4. Lex Luthor is the main antagonist in this movie, and his actions are senseless … this leads exactly to the main problem in this movie. Lex’s actions prepare a setting, but it is a *senseless* setting for a Batman and Superman fight that *has NO reason for being*. This combines with Batman’s unwarranted and non-sensical obsession with killing Superman. This is a confusing scenario. NOTHING MAKES SENSE IN THIS MOVIE!
  5. The destruction porn in the movie did not concern me this time. Yet, the CGI (especially the one related to Doomsday) is horrible! Not for one second did I believe that Doomsday was menacing. Some other CG scenes were great, but this was not one of them. And I don’t mind that a CG scene doesn’t work IF the movie had a great plot and script. Yet, this was no such movie.
  6. As other reviews have pointed out, anyone trying to follow the thread of the stories will be really confused by the “organization” (or rather “disorganization”) of the narrative. It feels all-over-the-place, because Snyder wants to throw many things at us in such a short time.
  7. Last, but not least, about half of the movie is dedicated to set up the Justice League film, sometimes to the point of total confusion: there were some scenes where you didn’t know if they were dream sequences or not, but apparently they seem to be a set up for JL (like the scenes of Apocalypse) … And yes, Darkseid will be the villain in the next JL movie. Who the heck else?! This set up takes sometimes too much time, and a lot of the scenes of the movie could have been removed. In this sense, I totally agree with Chris Stuckmann, that now there is a continued aspiration of movie producers not to self-contain the stories, but to create movies that set up other movies. That movie producers and directors should just stop doing this and focus on the story.

There are so many other things that I either concerned me or made me upset about this movie. Yet, talking about them will lead me to spoilers. So, for now, I will end my review here.


Follow and Support this Skeptic ===> Jeff Holiday

On February 6, 2016, in Science, by prosario2000

Very recently, after I adopted the path of skepticism, not only as an intellectual but also as a spiritual path (as a Religious Naturalist), I’ve been watching a lot of skeptics who have become very popular on the Internet such as Rebecca Watson, Kavin Senapathy (follow her page in, Myles Power and James Gurney (both: The League of Nerds),  Yvette d’Entremont  (aka the SciBabe), José Miguel Mulet, The Skeptics Guide to the Universe, among many others. Through Patreon, I have supported three of them. Two whom I have mentioned: Rebecca Watson and Myles Power.  Yet, the third one has not received the attention he deserves: Jeff Holiday.

Don’t get me wrong, he is getting popular. He has more than 1,000 subscribers in Youtube, and that is a respectable number. What I like about him is a neuroscience student who wants to comment about the best science today with a great sense of humor, while demystifying certain BS people find on the Internet.

However, his comments are not limited to science, but he also talks about politics. Many times I’ve seen the headings of his political comments videos, and my initial reaction is a raise of an eyebrow. It may be that I end up disagreeing or agreeing with him, but whichever the outcome, I feel that he wants to provide the best rational basis for his views. He also posts some silly stuff just people to enjoy.

Here are some of my favorite videos:

… and one silly video:

He seems to be a great guy, and I honestly wish him all of the best.

I started supporting him in Patreon recently (within the capacities of my low budget, of course), because I believe that he should do many more videos, and talk to more people about science and skepticism. After some time, he posted a video thanking his supporters … or (to my surprise) his supporter … me! The ONLY Patreon supporter (“technically” at least)?!

In my humble opinion, I should not be the ONLY supporter in Patreon. I invite everyone to please support him if you have the chance. Honestly, it doesn’t take much. We need more people like him in Youtube, in Facebook, in Google+, in Twitter … everywhere!

Please, go and support him in Visit his page:
Also subscribe to his Youtube channel:


No poder olvidarte (with English translation)

On January 8, 2016, in Poetry, by prosario2000

Licencia de Creative Commons
Este obra está bajo una licencia de Creative Commons
Reconocimiento-CompartirIgual 4.0 Internacional

Cuando quiero besar las aguas del Leteo,
interrumpe mi sed el recuerdo de tu rostro
y en desesperación suspiro cuando mi mente ve
cómo tus ojos se convierten en luz de vida.

¡Ay! ¡Cómo desearía morir de una vez,
para renacer en la otra vida!
Quisiera sentir cada célula de mi cuerpo
expirar de mi corrupción material,
para tansmutarse en tu tierra, en tu aliento.

Ojalá pudieras saborear el sudor de mi frente.
Como el vino, embriagarte de locas visiones,
y así destilar regocijo al sentir cómo gotas de fuego
se insertan en nuestro íntimo baile nocturno.

Y entre realizaciones de sueños y aventuras
al nos inquirir nuevas maneras de perecer al otro
te contemplo reír como cuando una niña descubre
en su inocencia que del día se puede enamorar.

Y de la noche … poder respirar junto a las estrellas.


Whenever I wish to kiss the waters of Lethe,
my thirst is broken by the memory of your face,
and in despair I sigh when my mind looks at
how your eyes become a light of life.

Oh!  How much do I wish to die for once,
to be reborn in the afterlife!
I wish to feel every cell of my body
expire from its material mortality,
to be transformed to your soil, to your breath.

I wish you could taste the sweat of my brow,
with it, like wine, make you drunk with mad visions,
and distill joy when we sense the drops of fire
be among us in our nocturnal dance.

By realizing dreams and adventures,
when we inquire new ways of perishing for one another,
I watch you laugh like when a little girl discovers
in her innocence how to fall in love with the morning

And how much in the evenings she can breathe with the stars.


Leaving the Political Left

On October 3, 2015, in Economy, Philosophy, Politics, Puerto Rico, Science, by prosario2000

Some Original Revolutionary and Progressive Values which Have Been Lost

If there was any thinker in the world I admire is Karl Marx. Contrary to many people’s opinions, I do not consider him a philosopher, but an economist and one of the fathers of Sociology. I think that most of what he proposed as solutions for capitalism have been refuted by philosophy, sociology, and history. Yet, that does not mean that he didn’t have any valuable insights. Capital stands as a unique classic that, along with Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations, and has enabled us to understand capitalism regarding its process and dynamic. The work itself is not infallible, but it is immensely valuable. I also think that the Communist Manifesto, how ever small and simple it is as a historic document, should be considered an eye-opener for most Progressives and Left-wing leaning people today. I particularly love these words when he makes an explicit admiration for capitalism:

The bourgeoisie has disclosed how it came to pass that the brutal display of vigour in the Middle Ages, which reactionaries so much admire, found its fitting complement in the most slothful indolence. It has been the first to show what man’s activity can bring about. It has accomplished wonders far surpassing Egyptian pyramids, Roman aqueducts, and Gothic cathedrals; it has conducted expeditions that put in the shade all former Exoduses of nations and crusades.

The bourgeoisie cannot exist without constantly revolutionising the instruments of production, and thereby the relations of production, and with them the whole relations of society. Conservation of the old modes of production in unaltered form, was, on the contrary, the first condition of existence for all earlier industrial classes. Constant revolutionising of production, uninterrupted disturbance of all social conditions, everlasting uncertainty and agitation distinguish the bourgeois epoch from all earlier ones. All fixed, fast-frozen relations, with their train of ancient and venerable prejudices and opinions, are swept away, all new-formed ones become antiquated before they can ossify. All that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profaned, and man is at last compelled to face with sober senses his real conditions of life, and his relations with his kind.

For Marx, the technology developed by the bourgeoisie was incredibly valuable and created “wonders”. Of course, all of this technology was directed to one end in particular: the bourgeois’ profit. Even Marx recognized the great advances that this technology meant for the public, but he recognized the need to eradicate the injustice and class struggle generated by the system, so that the proletariat would, not eliminate these technology, nor dismantle these means of production, but to use them for a just world. In this case, science was seen as the basis for making the world better. Marx was Mary Shelley’s fan, and read Frankenstein (and you can see it all over Capital), and this novel referred extensively to the problem of “how man should not cross certain boundaries established by Nature”. Yet, Marx underscored the great importance of science for making the proletariat and the poor better. His friend, Engels, described his proposal as “scientific socialism”, as opposed to “utopic socialism”. Although I do believe that Marx’s proposal for this “scientific socialism” is as utopic as the rest, I can’t avoid appreciating how much Marx and Engels regarded science so highly.

There was also the Progressive Era that stemmed from the ashes of the Gilded Age in the United States. In part (but only in part) to the economic collapse of the 1880s, the Federal government wanted to invest in education, medical services, and the sciences in general. Of course, this was no ethical golden era. Native Americans had to suffer new ways of exploitation under these ideals, and … at least in my case … the Progressive values mixed with Imperialistic ideals led to US’s efforts to establish policies to assimilate different ethnicities which did not agree to WASP values, such as Puerto Rican culture. Needless to say, practically black people in the U.S. were virtually left out of the Progressive equation. Despite this, not all Progressive values should be rejected. New technologies that started appearing more vigorously during these decades were extremely valuable, and made people’s lives better. These led to a basic ideological and physical infrastructures that led to more government investment in new technologies during WWII and the Cold War.

Something Gone Wrong with the Left

Apparently, even when the radical Left and the more Center-Left or Progressive policies affirmed and recognized the way technologies (even from the private pro-capitalist sector) improve people’s lives, this seems to be no longer the case. Instead, the Left is gradually leaning towards anti-scientific and anti-technological views. Usually, they have a secular “holier-than-thou” attitude against the Right-wing, especially regarding the problem of climate change. They actually tell people that ignoring science is to doom the world. That is great, as far as it goes.

The problem with the Right-wing regarding climate change can be read word-for-word in any Left-leaning or environmentalist blog or website about this subject: scientists all over the world have established a pretty strong consensus that global warming is happening, and its effect –climate change– is anthropogenic (from human origin). There is no question at all about this. Yes, you could find some very few scientists (with titles and everything) who have contested it, but they are a minority, and practically all of their work have been refuted by other scientists. In the current scientific literature, this is practically a non-issue. See the most recent peer-review article on the consensus here. In fact, it has been found that most of the deniers of the anthropogenic origins of climate change make scientifically baseless allegations: they ignored critical background information, cherry-picked their data, rejected solid studies that were inconvenient to their preconceived solutions, and so on. I could even add the documentaries that purposely distort data to deceive the public (e.g. The Great Global Warming Swindle). Many people in the Right reject this consensus for two reasons:

  1. Because most of the measures to remedy climate change implies an increase in state-sponsored investments in clean energy, which would mean an increase of the intervention of the political state in the economy.
  2. Because a lot of the interests behind Right-wing politicians come from industries that invest heavily in fossil fuels.

The same could be said about the Right-wing’s flirtation with Creationism and Intelligent Design, mostly because a lot of the Right-wing embraces the religious sector of U.S. society, most notoriously the conservative and the fundamentalist sectors.

Yet, as it happens, when it comes to other scientific issues, such as GMOs, nuclear energy, and others, certain Left-wing and environmentalist groups can be just as “crazy” or incredibly “deceptive” as their counterparts in the Right-wing extreme. DemocracyNow has served as a forum for Left-wing and environmentalist forum … which is great! … Except when the show interviews a lot of people whose reputation and credibility have been seriously questioned by the scientific community (e.g. Vandana Shiva, Helen Caldicott, Greenpeace activists, etc.). This adoption by the Left that these people are somehow sacred leads to peer-pressure. If you believe something different than from these major figures in the environmental movements, then you have been “bought by Monsanto”, or “bought by the fossil fuel industry”, or “bought by the nuclear industry”, or you are a traitor to “the cause”, etc.

Yes, I agree that the interaction between scientists and companies is a problem that must be dealt with. There have been scientists who have been recruited to say that cigarettes are not all bad for you, and work for the tobacco companies. Yet, that hasn’t moved  the whole scientific community an inch in favor of smoking or had dissuaded its members from believing that it is carcinogenic. Even tobacco companies agree today that it causes cancer! The same can be said about the way ExxonMobil has recruited scientists all over the world and has actively tried to intervene with the scientific establishment to change the consensus, even when it knew that the anthropogenic climate change was real.  Let’s remember that Exxon has about $350 billion in assets, and about $400 billion in revenue.  As we have seen, Exxon has been totally unable to change the minds of the vast majority of the scientific establishment about it. All of the major scientific institutions around the world have established their agreement with the world wide consensus on the subject.

Yet, when it comes to genetically modified food and transgenics, the Left becomes the very big mirror of the Right in both attitude and behavior. Today, an overwhelming vast majority of scientists and scientific institutions around the world agree that GM food is no riskier than conventional or organic food. These conclusions have been very well established by scientific and health international organizations and by independent scientists again, and again. Here are three of the most important studies about GM food in the world:

  1. The European Commission’s 10 years study of GM food.
  2. An Italian meta-analysis on 10 years of scientific literature on how GM food has affected non-human animals and humans: basing themselves on 1,783 studies found no evidence of harm.
  3. A 2014 study which carries out a meta-analysis, researching about the harm of GM on farm animals covering a period of 29 years, including the results of about 1 trillion meals to a 100 billion non-human animals: there are no cases of reported harm.

Of course, as the exact mirror of the Right, certain people in the Left (especially those in the environmentalist movements) accuse the scientists participating in this as being “sold to Monsanto”. My question is … “Really?” Is Monsanto all THAT powerful to establish the consensus on GM food in the scientific establishment?

Remember how ExxonMobil with all of its assets and revenue, and which has actually tried to buy scientific opinion, has been unable to change the 97% scientific consensus on climate change? Well, how much does Monsanto have in relationship with Exxon? As it turns out, Monsanto has $23 billion in assets (it is almost 15 times smaller than Exxon’s), and $14 billion in revenue (almost 27 times smaller than Exxon’s) … all of these are 2013 and 2014 figures. How could Monsanto accomplish something that neither the tobacco industry nor the fossil fuel industry (whose revenues together are remarkably higher) have not been able to do?

And it gets even worse. Compared to many of its competitors, Monsanto is a remarkably small company. Don’t get me wrong! $14 billion in revenues makes it a very big company. Yet, not so much when you compare it with  Syngenta’s ($15 billion), Bayer ($51 billion), DuPont ($36 billion), Dow ($57 billion), Archer Daniels ($90 billion), BASF ($99 billion), and Agrium ($16 billion) … 2013 and 2014 figures. So, this mythology about an all-powerful Monsanto is not even remotely believable, especially when one takes into consideration the situation in the market.

And it gets even WORSE. The Monsanto that exists today barely resembles the old Monsanto. As the public record will tell you, the Monsanto that exists today is actually a spin-off that arose when the old Monsanto was fused with another company, Pharmacia, which was later bought by Pfizer. The agribusiness operations (which Pfizer was not interested in) consolidated into the new company, Monsanto (the one people love to hate today). Of course, misunderstandings about this history have made some people in social networks say that Monsanto is managed by Pfizer, which is utter non-sense.

And to make matters worse …  Monsanto is not the only company working on GM food. It was lucky that it was the first one to market it. The other ones have not been able to do so too soon, mostly due to over-regulation implemented because of anti-GM activism. Not even public university scientists who are willing to charge a small fee for their patents, or, better, make their seeds available for free to farmers, have not been able to do so because of this over-regulation. Some have no choice but to make BigAg companies the owners of these seeds so that they become available, which is ironically what the Left mostly fears. Talking about a self-fulfilling prophecy!!!


Anti-GM: The Left’s Dark Side

Whether a technology is produced by big corporations or cooperatives, small businesses, or the public sector, is irrelevant from an ethical standpoint. What does matter is if these organizations actually accept and manage the technology in such a way that can benefit the public most. Vaccines and medicines that save lives, and gadgets that improve quality of life for many have been the great accomplishments of modern medicine. Yet, most of these have been created by for-profit corporations. Despite this corporate end, the public greatly benefits from the availability of this technology. In fact, a lot of these medicines, vaccines, and devices can be traced to how public scientists interact with big corporations, which provide the capital for investment. In the case of medications, some of those greatly needed in many parts of the world are provided for free. No one in his or her right mind would actually protest the provision of these goods on the basis that “they are corporate” or “made for profit”. If any corporation withholds them on purpose, it would have the same outcry that the pharmaceutical industry had to deal with in 1998 when it asked the U.S. to create a blockade to South Africa because it tried to buy cheaper medicines from India to deal with AIDS population. The public would be rightfully outraged when vultures prey on the sick for profit, like what recently happened in social networks when people learned of a hedge fund manager who raised the price of a drug used for AIDS patients.

On the other hand, we can’t deny that some sorts of technology were originally created for reasons that, perhaps, people find reprehensible. There is no doubt that the military in the U.S. has made Puerto Ricans miserable by advocating for a colonial policy that lives on today. Many innocent people have died because of military tech used in battles and wars all over the world. Yet, it does not cross my mind to protest against the Internet, whose origins include its adoption by the U.S. military in the 1960s.  There is no doubt that this technology, with all of its virtues and vices, has made people’s lives better: just imagine that people have more access to information, manage their finances, buy goods, etc., all of which have saved a lot of people money and increased their wealth. In some countries, due to the access of the Internet, that can represent the difference between having four meals a week to having five meals a week. This is the reason why I believe that access to the Internet should be in the end a human right, and we should develop the technology towards that goal, regardless of whether you love or hate the military establishment.

Even when supposing that Monsanto is the ethical equivalent of the evil Galactic Empire that built the Death Star and destroyed Alderaan, the rejection of genetic modified food is simply something I can’t understand.

It is often said that Indian farmers are committing suicide because of the introduction of Monsanto’s Bt-cotton in 2002, a story promulgated mostly by Vandana Shiva and company. Yet, there is no scientific study in recent years that accepts this narrative. On the contrary, all of the pertinent studies show that there is ample evidence that Bt-cotton has made their lives better (see here, here, here, here, and even more critical articles here and here, most of these studies are independent) . This is indicated by two things:

  • The rate of adoption of Bt-cotton by Indian farmers over the years

Adoption of Bt-cornSource

  • The improvement of their quality of life

 Variables of Life Quality Among Indian Farmers


So, even when Indian farmers have to buy Bt-cotton seeds that are four times more expensive than normal seeds, they produce so much cotton that their increase in wealth, and their savings from not having to buy insecticides compensate for it very well, and their lives have improved dramatically in general.

When you  see the testing of Bt-brinjal, it has been said by some environmentalists that it has been an overwhelming failure, and that it has been denounced by farmers. Yet, these very same farmers named in the article beg to differ from it (Watch them say this on video! By the way, they also make fun of anti-GM activists.) The seeds for Bt-brinjal have been provided for free to farmers, who can plant the next generations seeds as many times as they want. Monsanto made sure of this … (That evil company!)

GM-papaya has been able to save papaya farmers from starvation, and it was the direct result of public scientists, Dennis Gonsalves and his team. The only threat that these farmers have ever faced are anti-GM activists who destroy their papaya trees. And you can go country, by country, and find that there can be difficulties (e.g. weeds and insects resistant to glyphosate and Bt respectively), but there are also situations where, with good farming practices, GM can make a difference in farmers’ lives (e.g. in every country that has legalized it). The most recent study that calculated the economic impact of GM on farmers has pointed out that, even when farmers in general pay far more for seeds (due to their demand and patent costs), they save a lot of money from administering pesticides and health costs related to them, and increase in productivity. Both of these factors account for an almost 70% increase in revenue. When you ask yourself why do farmers buy GM-seeds, the answer is easy … because they have more money and they improve their quality of life.

Impacts of GM crop adoption.

Impacts of GM crop adoption.
Average percentage differences between GM and non-GM crops are shown.
Results refer to all GM crops, including herbicide-tolerant and insect-resistant traits.
The number of observations varies by outcome variable; yield:
451; pesticide quantity: 121; pesticide cost: 193; total production cost:
115; farmer profit: 136. *** indicates statistical significance at the 1% level.

That’s it! Now everyone can talk to me about how Monsanto makes farmers “miserable”. As a “Leftie” at heart, I would love to believe that a corporation is making farmers miserable, but I would actually believe it more if that “Farmer profit” bar was beneath the line, not over it.

Due to the notable increase in production, despite the cost increase of Monsanto’s seeds, the indirect effect has also been beneficial for consumers, since it has driven down corn, soy, and cotton prices due to the increase in productivity, hence, the increase in supply. Other than the excessive use by glyphosate by some farmers, especially to the point of generating glyphosate resistant weeds, I have not seen anything else that would damn this company to hell. Quite the opposite. In general, the solidarity created by the social matrix involving Monsanto, public scientists, farmers, and consumers have been greatly beneficial to everyone in general. Are there monopolistic concerns? Definitely! But the fact that farmers keep buying GM-seeds despite their cost reveals that they are more than happy to pay for a better outcome than the alternatives.

Going beyond Monsanto is also a healthy exercise for the mind when trying to think clearly about this subject. Other projects such as Simplot’s Innate potatoes, Del Monte’s Rosé transgenic pineapple, wheat without gluten, golden rice, purple tomatoes with antioxidants, the golden banana, the golden cassava, among many others, are being developed by other companies or by public universities around the world. In the case of public universities, they are trying their best to create GM seeds whose patent licenses can be affordable, or, in the optimal case, make them patent-free (the so-called “open source” GM seeds) to make them freely available to farmers to do with them as they wish. Also, these products would directly improve the health of consumers, since many of them are designed to avoid carcinogens, prevent cancer, or make available a variety of goods to people whom, for reasons of their particular illnesses, cannot consume them. People who suffer from celiac disease will feel their pockets relieved because of a gluten-free wheat.

Yet, out of all of these, only Arctic apple and Innate potatoes have been made available. Why not more?

Why isn’t golden rice available now? Golden rice is GM rice that has been fortified with beta-carotene, one vitamin A precursor, which studies have shown to become vitamin A after it is consumed. These seeds would be provided patent-free for farmers, with the right of re-selling them and re-planting them as long as they don’t profit more than $10,000. In practice, this would make the rice available for free for all Asian farmers. However, golden rice is not available, because environmentalists (especially Greenpeace) have made sure that it is never available to people in Asia who are suffering from vitamin A deficiency. This would cost them $1.4 million life/years to many people who are really going through blindness and death because of lack of access to it. This is clearly inhumane and, coming from a milti-million dollar organization (such as Greenpeace), it is a crime against humanity.

But, it is a crime supported by the LEFT!!!! How can this be?!  Aren’t Progressives and Left-wing people all for human rights … for the economic rights of the marginalized and the poor?! I think that knowing this fact shook me pretty bad.

… I have to say that not even that prepared me to what happened next: the relentless persecution, intimidation, and even physical threats to U.S. scientists whom anti-GM critics perceive as being in cahoots with Monsanto. The cooperation among public scientists and big companies is a delicate subject, and from an ethical standpoint, I can understand the objection coming from many people. However, from an ethical standpoint, this sort of cooperation is completely legitimate if it is done following a code of ethics, and scientists can guarantee their independence of criteria from their interactions with industry.

The first victim of this process was Dr. Kevin Folta, and I’ve seen with pain how he is going through this ordeal, even when the money he received from Monsanto was not for him (as Ralph Nader deceptively tries to argue), but for an outreach program teaching young people about science. Whatever you believe about Monsanto (e.g. that it is the equivalent of Skeletor’s Snake Mountain), this contribution was very positive, because it promotes science. Even when people want to really believe that Monsanto finances Folta’s work, just forget about it! He works on strawberries, Monsanto is not interested in them and has not financed his studies at all.

And I’ve seen worse!  Much worse … with no public uproar!!!  Did you know that Nova’s episodes on Brian Greene’s The Fabric of the Universe was sponsored by David H. Koch, of the Koch Brothers? You know, the same people who finance anti-scientific campaigns to discredit global warming, and try to cut down regulatory legislation of the industry?  Yeah… those guys!  And still, they are great episodes. The same when Microsoft sponsored some great episodes by NOVA, and believe me, THAT company can control your life a thousand times more through your computer than Monsanto would ever do just by selling seeds and Roundup. I’ve always promoted software freedom, and I wish that more people in the Left had just the same passion against Windows and MacOS that they have against Monsanto.

And even the Left is in a worse situation than the Right, for the simple reason that the former tends to be so self-righteous about how much it endorses evolution and the anthropogenic view of climate change. Yet, when it comes to studies, the anti-GM sector is just as insane!!! It uses extensively retracted, very bad, and ethically questionable studies to prove their point (such as Séralini’s experiment), or studies financed by industries and lie when they say that they have no conflicts of interests (e.g. the famous Judy Carman’s –and company’s– study on the effects of transgenic maize and soy on pigs), or studies published in notorious predatory journals such as those published by OMICS International, Scientific Research, MDPI, and others (e.g. Stephanie Seneff’s bogus study on glyphosate in Entropy). In other words, everything revolves in totally and absolutely discredited studies that are not even worth the virtual paper they were written in. And please, don’t get me started on Greenpeace!!!  It is renowned for not revealing how their studies were carried out, and it has been caught altering its own data to fit its causes (e.g. the Brent case, and the Chernobyl meltdown).

The Left’s dubious association with pseudo-scientifically-minded individuals around the world does not make the its situation any better. Mike Adams, founder of Natural News, is not only a long time scammer, but also at one point wrote an article clearly implying that it should be anyone’s moral duty to kill scientists, academics, journalists, and so on who advocate for GMOs, while the next day posting a webpage giving people names of Monsanto employees, biotech scientists, academics, and advocates so that the public would intimidate them. Then he changed the text to “clarify” that he didn’t mean “kill”, just bring these advocates “to justice”. Later he deleted it, but the Internet remembers events like that. Because of this incident, he is being investigated by the FBI right now. By the way, this article was also posted in Vandana Shiva’s website for a week, and then was taken down after the uproar of indignation it provoked. Dr. Oz, (read this study and listento this interview about his recommendations), Vani Hari (the Food Babe), Jeffrey Smith (who knows nothing of science and doesn’t know what he’s talking about — see here and here–), Dr. Joseph Mercola (… And I mean, really?! A guy who sells as “healthy” a product containing the very same stuff he himself has said is poisonous to the public?!!  Really??!!! …), among other frauds, have inundated the media with totally false claims about GM food, not supported by any scientific study at all.

Even legitimate scientists, such as Dr. Don Huber, fall from grace as soon as they are mixed in this mess. According to him, he discovered how GM and glyphosate create a “pathogen” that could represent a threat to human and animal health. He has been claiming this for years, without ever showing this pathogen to the scientific community. (So … is he withholding evidence of something that could harm the public, and will not make it available to scientists and the public for examination?  Why the heck not??!!!)  And what about David Suzuki’s shameful ignorance of GM work that ended up in a video that discredits his statements, not only about GMOs, but about his campaign to address the problems of climate change?  The Right-wing had a field day with Suzuki! With this, in the eyes of the public, Suzuki has contributed to discredit the urgent need to address the problem of climate change. He campaigns for it, but appeared before the public as an ignorant about his own field, genetics; so, in the minds of many people, why should they pay attention to him about climate change?

And the Left wants to associate with all of these people and use them as “legitimate” references?!  Really??!!!


I’m OUT!

I began as an anti-GM campaigner, and I ended up being in favor once I sat down and studied this subject carefully. I have to say that as time goes by, I am increasingly disappointed with the Left, especially when they don’t stick to neither science nor history. They invent false historical memory about a time when “farmers lived in harmony with nature”, and “they lived healthy” because they had no synthetic pesticides and everything was done “naturally”. Just a little verification on farming practices in that “ancient past” will make them realize that not only they used to use pesticides, but that they were as toxic as arsenic, mercury, sulfur, copper, rotenone, pynethrum, among many others, many which are banned today in many countries, or are still legal but are creating a lot of environmental problems. A little check on the life expectancy data on humanity in the past vs. today should wake people up from their slumber.

From what I’ve seen in the left, not only in the United States, but also in Puerto Rico where this opinion is almost monolithic, especially with political groups like the Puerto Rican Independence Party (PIP), the Sovereigntist Movement Union (MUS), and even Nada santo sobre Monsanto, which have created a new ignoramitocratic thinking (i.e. they dictate public policy on the basis of ignorance and fraud rather than science). In the United States, the situation is a little bit different so far as the political Left is divided on this issue. Although I understand the opposition to the nuclear alternative by people like Ralph Nader, I have been stunned by the fact that he actually endorses the persecution and intimidation of scientists by misusing the FOIA, especially accusing the critics of such behavior of being “tied to Monsanto”, and quoting a study published in a very low impact journal that has been criticized and debunked by the scientific establishment, mostly because it made no original research, and was picking and choosing the data from a previous retracted Séralini study, which was later republished without any peer-review. The authors of the quoted study are, of course, Séralini himself and company. Nader also quoted the (in)famous IARC study that created a lot of unwarranted chaos in public policy over the world, and which is also ridden with very serious and evident mistakes.

(Note/Rant: Why is it that we have to ban glyphosate all over the world because it is categorized 2A by the IARC, but not working at night, or working in a salon … By this reasoning, women are screwed, because estrogen has been classified as 1 by the IARC –i.e. we are sure it is a carcinogen– , as well as painting, … and let’s ban pears, they have formaldehyde, and let’s not forget banning the Sun itself!)

This has been the greatest disappointment ever from the Left, especially many environmental groups.

I’M DONE!!!!

Before, I thought that the Left embraced the best of Progressive values, and placed a great emphasis on science. Today, as time goes by, as a Left-wing, I’m asked politically to support ideas that are clearly unscientific, fraudulent, and that obey the interests of certain industries (like the organic industry, and the scammer industry, many of them with cultish tendencies and behavior) to whom the Left and the environmental movements are doing favors. When did so many in the Left in industrialized countries become so pathologically inhumane?  Can some of you who hold this position really consider yourselves as being ethically superior to the Right-wing extremists and the harm they cause? I think not!

If being in the Left means that I have to endorse pseudo-science, scammers, and not embrace the best studies out there about this subject (and many others), if it means using important mechanisms for human rights to abuse scientists, and also preventing the poor and the sick from having technologies that may save their lives, … then it is time for me to leave it behind, and I will wipe the dust from my feet on the way out.  As far as it goes, the Left is inviting people to “think outside of the box” created by the political and corporate establishments … in order for people to accept another box created by other political and corporate establishments –the latter, built on  fraud and fear-mongering–.

As far as it goes, I will be more independently-minded, and far more receptive to science than I have ever been in my life.

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Recently, I’ve been re-visiting much of Richard Elliott Friedman’s work, especially because in my new edition of my book on St. Paul the Apostle, I will include an appendix talking briefly about the Song of the Sea (Exod. 15) and another one about the Song of Deborah (Judges 5).

To my pleasant surprise, I’ve been watching some skeptics evaluate his work online and, in general terms, they all like his book Who Wrote the Bible? which I also highly recommend. This is one of the bestseller books that I am very, very glad that it is a bestseller. I also found this video on Youtube titled: “Biblical Criticism Book Club – Who Wrote the Bible? – Richard Elliott Friedman – Hangout #1″.

Apparently, there is also a Hangout #2 scheduled sometime in the future.

Yet, as it always happens with anything related to the Bible, some skeptics (who are many times either agnostic and/or atheists) extend a shadow of suspicion on some of the Bible scholars’ intent when these propose a certain historical theory that may seem to confirm some beliefs that are very cherished by religious communities.

One example of this can be seen precisely in this video. I haven’t seen it all, but at one point, the skeptics, who engaged in this very interesting discussion, question Friedman because he favored the idea that there had been some sort of historical “exodus” from Egypt. Obviously with some care, they state that perhaps, maybe, Friedman is trying to somehow “save” the story, to have something to give historical credence to the “exodus tale”.

I’m not Friedman, but I’ve known his (and other scholars’) work enough to know that this is not the case.


What Skeptics Usually Forget About History

One of the things that many people forget, especially skeptics who approach timidly to Bible scholarship, is that history is not a clear-cut given. Yes, we have documents, archaeological findings, and so on. On the “exodus” stuff, though, we don’t have much, except what we have in the Hebrew Bible. Skeptics obviously feel frustrated, as most scholars, to be sure.

Let me add to the discussion that Friedman is perfectly aware that the “exodus” as told by the Biblical book Exodus could not have happened. This is something he has underscored both in his famous popular book as well as by other scholars and archaeologists in the field as William G. Dever and Amnon Ben-Tor.

The archaeological evidence regarding Ancient Israel without a doubt collides directly with the Biblical accounts. No ancient Hebrew army attacked Neguev, Siho, Jericho, Ai, or the kings of Hasor. Simply speaking, the destruction of these towns and cities took place either before or after the time-period when the “exodus” apparently took place (1275-1208 B.C.E.).

William G. Dever calls “proto-Israel” the society that emerged, not from an attack of people foreign to Canaan, but from Canaanites themselves. This apparently occurred in the same time-period when Egypt was going through economic tough times, and debilitated the vassal monarchs in Canaan. They probably taxed either monetary contributions or labor-force from the poor. The Canaanites revolted against the kings of the area, and established an egalitarian society free from Egyptian rule. That is as much as the archaeological evidence shows us. Without a doubt, Friedman knows this. After all, he recommended Dever’s book Who Were the Early Israelites and Where Did They Come From? (which I also wholeheartedly recommend).

So … where does an “exodus” fit in all of this?

The problem is that history is not merely excavating and inferring from what you dig up, nor is it believing a document is “historical” when it seems believable, and “unhistorical” when it seems too fantastic. Documents also must be evaluated and qualified, especially in a specific context and in light of other evidence we have available.

Here is where there is a strong debate by scholars and by archaeologists regarding the possibility of an “exodus” event in the past.

OF COURSE the “exodus” could NEVER have happened in the way told in Exodus!  As a bishop explained once, by the sheer number of Ancient Israelites in the desert claimed by Exodus for a period of 40 years, the Sinai should have ended up fertile! Friedman knows this.

Yet, this is not all. Bible scholars are historians. Again, their duty is not to “tell us” exactly what happened from just reading a document. Nor is he merely going to declare a document to be “believable” or not. As historians themselves will tell you, it is extremely rare to find a document that will tell you exactly “what happened”. This is true, not only of the documents which have survived in the Hebrew Bible, but of other documents and archaeological artifacts as well. For example, as everyone knows, when Sennacherib carried out the siege of Jerusalem, you will have many versions of the story. One of them will tell you that King Hezekiah took effective measures against a potential invasion, there is another similar story but with an angel helping the Israelites, while Sennacherib’s prisms will tell you another very different story.

Even if you feel inclined to reject the Bible’s versions of the story because they are biased and its facts are changed (sometimes to be too fantastic), you cannot say that Sennacherib’s version is more “true”. Why?  Because, as it happens, his version is also biased and changed. So, we cannot “dismiss one in favor of the other”, maybe both texts have elements in them to formulate a viable theory that best explains these texts. Friedman discusses this case in his book very well. We can also see this in Merneptah’s Stele, which claims that pharaoh Merneptah’s militia destroyed the “Israelites” (1208 B.C.E.), and yet, we know for a fact it didn’t! The hardcore job of Bible scholars, as good historians, is to qualify all of these stories, including archaeological discoveries we have available.

To summarize, just because it is in the Bible and looks fantastic does not mean that the story could not contain some core truth, and because it is not in the Bible does not mean that the story has to be “truer” than anything in the Bible.

In light of this, as much as it is tempting to dismiss the “exodus’ story”, it is not really that easy as to claim that there is no archaeological evidence, or that there couldn’t have been millions of Israelites wandering in the desert for 40 years. There are other things that many skeptics are not seeing about this issue.


Those Strange Levites!

We can try to explain the presence of the famous tribes of Israel as the result of a rebellion against those nobles and monarchs of the area. No problem there…

But at the very least, we have to recognize that among the tribes of Israel, there is a particular one we might call the “odd one” in the family, the Levites. Here are some interesting facts about them:

  • They don’t have territory.
  • They are the core of Ancient Israel’s religiosity, although for a while it was not exclusive, until the time of King Hezekiah’s and King Josiah’s reforms. The Levites were certainly favored by David and Salomon, especially the former.
  • They were paid the tithe as a religious contribution.
  • The supervision of the sacred places such as Shiloh in the North, and Jerusalem in the South were trusted to them.
  • One of the Levites (the ones in the South) claimed to be descendants of Aaron, while the Shiloh priests seemed to derive their authority from the fact that they were Mushites (Moses’ descendants).

Why is this? How can there be an explanation for these facts? We could conjecture that this priesthood was created almost as a response or as an alternative to noble-Canaanite or Egyptian religious beliefs. Yet, this seems ahistoric. Canaanites already had a polytheistic or henotheistic belief in the god El and his hosts, usually represented as a calf, and never abandoned it. Also, they introduced the belief in Yahweh, which seems to derive from the belief in Yahu, the god worshiped by the shasu, further southeast of the whole area we now know as Palestine. How is this explained?

There are further oddities we can point out regarding Levites general. For instance, there is an unusual amount of them had Egyptian names. The name “Moses” seems to be derived from a way to name an Egyptian royal heir or king. For instance, “Rameses” (Rammsy or Rams) means “Son of Ra”, the “msy” part means “Son of”. If the legend says that Moses was an Egyptian “prince”, it seems reasonable that his name has “msy” or “ms” as its root. You may ask, “but what about the fact that he was called ‘Moses’ because he was drawn out of the waters”? Here is where the historian has to be careful. There are four things to keep in mind:

  1. The word for “drawn out” (meshitihu) is a Hebrew word. Who named him “Moses”? The daughter of the pharaoh. If this is the case, why would she name a child with a Hebrew? Would it not make better sense if the root of the word is the Egyptian “msy“?
  2. Moses had an older sister, Miriam, and an older brother, Aaron (at least according to the Biblical story). These were not rescued by the pharaoh’s daughter nor did they have a privileged position in Egypt at any level. We could safely say that presumably both stayed with their Hebrew mom while Moses was growing up as an Egyptian prince. So far, so good. But here is a catch …  why do Miriam and Aaron have Egyptian names too?! “Miriam” has the Egyptian root “myr” (which means “beloved”), and “Aaron” comes from the Egyptian “aha rw” which means “warrior lion”. Why would their Hebrew mom name them with Egyptian names? Isn’t the Biblical story a bit awkward in this sense? …  An Egyptian woman naming Moses “Moses” as a Hebrew name, while a Hebrew mom names her other two children Egyptian names …  Doesn’t this make anyone scratch his or her head?
  3. Isn’t it a coincidence that the “exodus” story occurs, by Exodus’ own admission, during the time of Rameses II, whose name also happens to share the same root of “Moses”?
  4. Finally, doesn’t the whole story of a Hebrew mom giving birth to Moses, placing him in an ark that floated down the river to be found by the pharaoh’s daughter very strange? Why didn’t Moses’ mother do this also with Aaron before Moses? When Aaron was born, couldn’t he be also threatened by the pharaoh’s determination to kill all male newborns?

If there were no historical Moses, how can you explain that Ancient Israelites invented an “exodus” story where they chose Egyptian names for their heroes, but then decided that the Egyptian name of Moses was not really Egyptian, but a Hebrew name that happens to be close to an Egyptian name, that also happens to be close to Rameses’ name … which is just a coincidence, but was given to him by an Egyptian princess, who was the pharaoh’s daughter, but didn’t mean anything related to her father’s name, but it meant …?  …  UUGGGHHHHHHH!!!  Get my point?!

Here is when we need to account for something that clearly makes no sense, even if you want to suppose that these characters never existed.

“Moses”, “Miriam”, and “Aaron” are Egyptian names, but these are not the only Levites to have Egyptian names. Take, for instance, “Hur”, “Merari”, “Mushi”, “Hophni”, “Pinhas” (there were two of them), also Egyptian names.


Old Israelite/Egyptian Relics?

But the deal with the Levites doesn’t end in just the names. What about the two artifacts most closely related to them? The Tent of Meetings (aka the Tabernacle) and the Ark of the Covenant?

Let’s begin with the Tent of Meetings or Tabernacle. As many scholars have pointed out, the Tent’s structure, as described in the Torah, seems to be amazingly similar to that of Rameses II’s War Tent used during the Battle of Kadesh. Here is an illustration:

War Tent of Rameses IIAbu Simel Relief, Representing the War Tent of Rameses II.

As you can see, at the very bottom you find a wall, and then there is a pathway to a reception room, and the pharaoh’s chamber, where he happened to have two winged creatures, specifically two falcons, symbolizing the presence of Horus, something remarkably similar to the two winged creatures said to be portrayed in the Ark of the Covenant. In the case of Richard A. Gabriel’s, The Military History of Ancient Israel, you find a comparison between what the War Tent and the Tent of Meetings would look like.

Rameses' War Tent and the TabernacleSource: Gabriel 2003, 96.

Now, let’s take a look at the Ark of the Covenant. Initially, many people thought that the Ark itself was more related culturally to the territories of Mesopotamia. For example, the Ark has two cherubim. The word indicates that they are from the Akkadian karibu, or Babilonian kerubim, creatures with a body of a lion, wings of an eagle, legs of a bull, and a human head. These were not only placed on the Ark, but also at the very entrance of the Holy of Holies in the Jerusalem Temple. The function of the kerubim was to mediate between gods and men, and also be guardians (e.g. of the Holy of Holies or of the Tree of Life in Genesis).

Despite these outstanding similarities, other scholars are not as quick as to say that. For example, Scott B. Noegel has recently published an important study this year pointing out that if you see the structure and function of the Ark of the Covenant, they seem to resemble more Egyptian barques. Here are some of the most powerful similarities (as presented by Noegel):

  • Egyptian barques were fitted with gold-plated naos containing a divine image seated on a block throne, veiled with a thin canopy of wood or cloth.
  • Many of the barques were decorated with protective “kerubim“.
  • They had to be carried by priests, “the pure ones”.
  • The bark gave oracles during processions.

While not suggesting that the Ark of the Covenant was a bark (which it was clearly not), what is clear is that somehow, whoever made the ark, retained the model, structure, and many of the functions that Egyptian barques had.

Given that the Ark is strongly associated with the Levites (especially the Shilo priesthood),  we can say that apparently the Levites seem to have been very much into Egyptian stuff … much more than Ancient proto-Israelites.

And Don’t Forget Foreigners

As Friedman explains very well in his book, there are four main traditions which write the Torah and other books of the Bible that we know today: J, E, P, D. Friedman goes against current scholarship when he locates the creation of P in the time period of King Hezekiah’s reforms (following the line of thinking of Sigmund Mowinckel), and not, as most AT scholars believe, during the exile in Babylon.

Regardless of that particular difference with scholars, as he shows in his book, three of the four traditions were written by Levite priests: two by Shiloh priests (E, D), and one by Aaronid priests (P). Despite the fact that both of these traditions collided with each other often, they had some common perspectives, some not shared by J. For example, the three Levitic traditions seem obsessed about protecting foreigners. J doesn’t say anything at all about that.

Here is the P text (which, by the way, mentions the word “Torah” for the very first time in the whole Hebrew Bible):

… there shall be one law (torah) for the native for the alien who resides among you (Exod. 12:49).

Here is the E text:

You shall not wrong or oppress a resident alien, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt (Exod. 22:21).

Finally, here is the D text:

You shall not deprive a resident alien or an orphan of justice … Remember that you were a slave in Egypt and in Yahweh, your God redeemed you from there; therefore I command you to do this (Dt. 24:17-18).

The Quality of Our Sources

The whole “exodus” story (from Exodus to Deuteronomy) is a whole mixed bag of various traditions that often contradict with each other. From the modest source (J) to the most fantastic (P), stories that are often repeated (doublets), and some are even mixed in a confusing manner.

Yet, even with all of that, you can be a sort of literary archaeologist in the text, and find what seems to be very ancient texts. For example, Frank Moore Cross and David Noel Freedman have made a thorough literary “excavation” of the texts and found that the most ancient texts you find about the “exodus” story is Exodus 15, known as The Song of the Sea (sometimes also called The Song of Miriam). They could identify this song as ancient because of the use of certain archaisms that don’t seem to correspond to the styles of the traditions found in Exodus, and a poetic structure that was popular in Ugaritic poetic styles.

The Song of the Sea makes a variety of claims. One salient factor is that it only names the Israelite god “Yahweh”, without mentioning “Elohim” or making any allusion to that name anywhere to refer to the same god. In that song, it seems that Yahweh seems intimately associated with the event of the liberation of the singers from the pharaoh and his militia, often described in fantastic terms. Yet, this song never says how many people escaped from Egypt, and how such an event scared even the Philistines, Moabites, and Canaanites. Finally, the song doesn’t say that his people will inherit the whole land of Israel, instead, it says:

… You brought them in and planted them on the mountain of your own possession,
the place, oh Yahweh, that you made your abode,
the sanctuary, oh Yahweh, that your hands have established.
Yahweh will reign forever and ever (Exod. 15:17-18).

This statement, about establishing a sanctuary (habitations) for Yahweh (as it is phrases in the original Hebrew language), only appears once more in the Hebrew Bible, and that is during King Salomon’s consecration of the Temple, a place that would be administered by the Levites (1 Kings 8:13).


One Possible Explanation …?

Sorry for the skeptics out there, but it seems (at least to me) that all of these anomalies involving the Levites (which we simply do not see in other tribes) cry out for a historical explanation.

History, like natural science, not always has all of the elements that it wishes to have. We don’t have an archaeological artifact or bones to confirm the “exodus” event. Yet, the elements offered in these Biblical texts are data, and they need theory-making so we can account for them. Saying that they are “Biblical” is not to offer a good reason to dismiss or ignore them. Bible scholarship, as history, aims at explaining as much data as possible by positing the simplest theories possible.

There is an indefinite number of possible explanations for these, but it seems to me that the simplest I have seen thus far is the one put forth by Friedman himself, and here it is:

  • There was an exodus event, but not of all of the people of Israel, but only of the Levites.
  • The Levites are of Egyptian origins, and probably originated with a small group of workers who had to lend their labor force, and perhaps some slaves.
  • These Levites did not pass forty years in the desert and their numbers were not very big.
  • During their travel, they ended up in Median, a place where the shasu peoples lived, assuming their god Yahu (or Yahweh) as theirs, hence their evident cult to Yahweh.
  • Then they ended up in Canaanite lands, and perhaps through military force, both parts reached a compromise: Levites would provide the religious backbone of these societies, and identified the god El with Yahweh (Yahweh-Elohim). In exchange, the tribes would pay the tithe to these priests.
  • Through the influence of the Levites, and because Canaanites also identified themselves with the situation of subjugation and liberation from Egypt, they started identifying with the Levitic story of escape from Egypt.
  • Then legends started being forged around the core story. Not only were there Levites who escaped, but the whole people of Israel escaped. This is not unlike the Thanksgiving holiday in the United States, which everyone culturally believe that they “came from the pilgrims”, even though most people in the U. S. don’t descend from them. Then, those who escaped were not just searching just Yahweh’s habitation in a Temple, but now the WHOLE land of Israel. And not only that, but the number of people who escaped from Egypt were in the thousands … then the millions … etc.  And these versions were placed in our sources.

Was there a historical Moses? Perhaps. It could best explain why a Hebrew hero had an Egyptian name. Most probably the whole story of him born as a Hebrew and then found the daughter of the pharaoh was made up as an apologetic means to make Moses more Hebrew than Egyptian. And also there may have been a historical Aaron (since there Aaronid priests considered themselves his descendants). Was there an Ark of the Covenant and a Tent of Meetings? Maybe. Did Moses do everything that the Bible said? Certainly no!  The Golden Calf episode was made up by E as a reaction to Jeroboam’s reforms, as Friedman tells us. The Ten Commandments were not originally the way that P and D tell us, given that they were elaborated from earlier commandments of J and E, and were means to religious reforms that took place centuries after Moses.

If skeptics still feel uncomfortable with this intelligent theory, then I challenge them to show a better theory that accounts for all of this. After all, in science, we don’t give up theories just because we don’t like them … we give them up when we find better theories with better explanations for the presence of the data we have at hand.  The same with history and Bible scholarship.

Again, Friedman’s theory is not an attempt to “save a story” (what in Philosophy of Science we call “saving the theory”), but rather an attempt to provide the best explanation possible to a mysterious phenomenon we have in ancient Biblical texts. Up to now, the theory that there was no exodus event at all would leave all of these factors unexplained.

See his video where he explains this in simpler terms (with jokes).



Cross, Frank Moore and David Noel Freedman. Studies in Ancient Yahwistic Poetry. Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdman’s, 1996.

Gabriel, Richard A. The Military History of Ancient Israel. CT: Praeger, 2003.

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