Semitic Scholarship Confirms Animal Death Before the Fall in Genesis 1

Digital painting by the author. The most sophisticated academic study on the Fall and animal death to date  In my recent book critiquing Answers in Genesis’ Bible interpretation , I summarized a 2013 doctoral dissertation by J. J. Van Ee entitled, “Death and the Garden: An Examination of Original Immortality, Vegetarianism, and Animal Peace in the Hebrew Bible and Mesopotamia.” The PDF of the full dissertation is available free here . As someone who has dumped months of research into the topic, I’m convinced Van Ee’s thesis is by far the most comprehensive and sophisticated exegetical treatment that exists on the issue of death before the Fall in the Hebrew Bible. (Disclaimer: I've never spoken with Van Ee, and my views in this article are my own.) My friend Mike Jones at Inspiring Philosophy was also so impressed with Van Ee’s dissertation that he included a summary of some of its contents in a video entitled: “ TOP TEN Biblical Problems for Young Earth Creationism ” which has cur

Behemoth's tail isn't about his tail. It's about his penis (part 2)

In my last post , I argued that the monster Behemoth in the biblical book of Job was a mythic Semitic chaos deity. We can infer this because we can be certain his literary ‘twin’ Leviathan was. Leviathan breathes fire, has multiple heads, and is openly related to the chaos dragon god in Mesopotamian and West Semitic Baal mythology by the biblical authors themselves.  This post continues my response to an article from by Paul Price that attempts to argue Behemoth was a sauropod dinosaur. Price argues this mainly on the basis that the book of Job compares Behemoth’s tail to a cedar. Contrary to Price, I believe Behemoth was most likely a mythological super-ox based on features of the Hebrew texts and comparative ancient mythology. What about his cedar-like “tail”? I think there is firm evidence that the Hebrew term for “tail” here is actually a euphemism for the creature’s penis—a view shared by scads of Jobian specialists.  Only a liberal evolutionist would claim Behemoth

Nose rings: A Biblical Symbol of Modesty

Snippet from Bailey's book showing woman wearing shnaf nose ring. One of my favorite books I stumbled upon last year was Clinton Bailey's, Bedouin Culture in the Bible  (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2018). Bailey is a world leading authority on the modern Bedouin living in biblical lands, and his book examines how its culture sheds light on things modern people are inclined to find strange in the Old Testament. As Bailey writes, "Bedouin culture goes back 4,500 years. Owing to the unchangeability of desert conditions, this culture remained largely unchanged and is recognizable in the Bible." The following is an interesting portion from his book: Women in the biblical world wore nose rings as a symbol of sexual modesty (pgs. 61-3): “Nose rings play a role in the modesty of women, about which the Bedouin are zealous. …[F]ar-reaching obligations to, and burdens upon, clansmen are weighty—too weighty to be borne for people not of their blood. Thus, the possibility of disagrees with me about Behemoth’s penis

Image has published this piece attempting to debunk my research on the biblical monster Behemoth. Those of you devastatingly attractive loose-cannon rock stars that have read my book on the Creation Museum (Why haven’t you? The reviews melt faces.) know that I argue Behemoth was not a real animal, but a west Semitic chaos deity. Along with many Semitists from backwards, rinky-dink institutions you’ve probably never heard of like the Hebrew University of Jerusalem or Oxford, I believe Behemoth was probably a mythological creature based around the attributes of a bull--a view going back to early Judaism.  Additionally, examining features of the Hebrew texts, I agree with many translators like Rob Alter at Berkley or Edward Greenstein at Bar-Ilan University that the infamous verse about Behemoth’s tail being “like a cedar” is likely a reference to the creature’s penis. That last sentence is what we call foreshadowing in the writing biz and is designed to hold everyone's int

Old Testament Cosmology

(The following is an updated repost from February 27, 2017 . The original post received 78 comments.) My newly published book critiquing Answers in Genesis' Creation Museum contains an illustration of ancient Israelite cosmology that has circulated quite widely on the web. Anyone is now free to use or republish this image however you wish provided you simply cite the book: Ben Stanhope, (Mis)interpreting Genesis: How the Creation Museum Misunderstands the Ancient Near Eastern Context of the Bible (Scarab Press: Louisville Kentucky, 2018), 88. Amazon book purchase link. The geek stuff: This illustration draws on the attempts of previous scholars, including Nahum Sarna,  Understanding Genesis: the Heritage of Biblical Israel  (New York: Schocken Books, 1966), 5. Incorporating the iconography of Leviathan and the seraphim is an idea I owe to Othmar Keel’s illustration in  Altorientalische Miniaturkunst  (Mainz am Rhein: Verlag Philipp von Zabern, 1990), 15. Foremost of all, I have be

Why the Villain of Eden was a snake

The following as an archived version of a post originally made Jan 3, 2018 . The original post received 139 comments. This YouTube presentation argues ancient Judahite religion believed seraphim were serpentine divine beings and that the serpent in the Garden of Eden story was likely one of these creatures in the original context of the Hebrew Bible. Footnotes: [1] Michael S. Heiser,  The Unseen Realm: Recovering the Supernatural Worldview of the Bible  (Bellingham: Lexham Press, 2015), 87. See also, Michael S. Heiser, The Nachash (הנחש) and His Seed: Some Explanatory Notes on Why the “Serpent” in Genesis 3 Wasn’t a Serpent,” 1-7. Available at: [2] See T. N. D. Mettinger entry “Seraph” in  Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible  (DDD) ed. K. van der Toorn, Bob Becking, and Pieter Willem van der Horst (Leiden: Brill, 1999), 743. [3] Othmar Keel,  Jahwe-Visionen und Siegelkunst: Eine neue Deutung der Majestatsschi

The Solid Heavenly Dome of Israelite Cosmology: A Response to Younker and Davidson

The following is an archived version of an original post dated to June 19, 2018 . Most Semitists believe ancient Israelite religion believed the sky was a solid dome which retained a celestial ocean above it from flooding the earth--in parallel with the Mesopotamians and Egyptians. However, Younker and Davison's popular 2011 journal article, "The Myth of the Solid Heavenly Dome" challenges this consensus. In the following presentation, I present several disagreements I have with their work and lay out a brief case in favor of ancient belief in the solid heavenly dome. Errata: This video references the Tablet of Shamash and argues that it depicts the dome of heaven and upper waters. I've since encountered new data that convinces me this scene depicts the sun and stars ascending from the lower apsu with the sunrise at the level of the earth. Likewise, since taking a course in Old Babylonian, I now recognize several terms are mispronounced.  Footnotes: 1] This illustrat