Monday, August 03, 2009

Things that make you go... *facepalm*

I went back and forth for several minutes as to whether or not this was even worth my time, but finally decided that I couldn't let it go. Sometimes you just have to point out the stupidity of something stupid, just so you don't explode. Well, I do, anyway.

This video has apparently been circulating the internet. I ran across it just this evening:

If you're not inclined to sit through the five minute video, I'll give you the basics. Starting with Luke 10:18 - "I saw Satan falling like lightning from the sky" (my translation) - he argues that although the text as we have it is written in Greek, Jesus originally spoke these words in Aramaic (true enough). Thus, he argues, Jesus would have used the word baraq for "lightning" and bamah for "sky" (the Greek ouranos here is often translated "heaven," or "heavens"). This collocation of baraq and bamah in the words of Jesus naturally means that Barack Obama is the Antichrist.

This is why I have a love-hate relationship with the Strong's Concordance. It's a great tool when used for what it's meant for, but when it gets misused... hoo boy. So, a couple brief points of refutation, then I'm done:

1)Obama's first name comes from the verbal root BRK ("to bless") and is a variation on the Hebrew name Baruch ("blessed"). The noun baraq ("lightning") is completely unrelated, however much they may sound alike. Similarly, the English words "bare" and "bear" are completely unrelated, despite sounding alike.

2)The Hebrew word bamah never, so far as I'm aware, refers to the sky, but rather to hilltop or mountaintop shrines - high places on earth. The Greek word ouranos means "sky," as distinct from land and sea. No Hebrew speaker who knew an ounce of Greek would have translated bamah with ouranos, or vice versa. If Jesus' words are being translated from Aramaic to Greek, the Aramaic word underlying ouranos would certainly be shamayin, which means "sky, heavens."

3)The Isaiah 14 passage is not about Satan. It's about Nebuchadnezzar. Read the context. The word lucifer there is a Latin rendering of the Hebrew for "star of morning" (i.e., Venus). By a trick of medieval exegesis, the common noun lucifer came to be taken as a proper name, Lucifer, and applied to Satan. But that never ought to have happened, because the passage isn't about Satan. Isaiah's prophecy is predicting the fall of Nebucachadnezzar.

4)Let's grant, for one brief, brain-melting instant, that this whole argument is right, and that Jesus is really referring to Barack Obama. What is he saying? "I saw Satan fall like Barack Obama"? Seriously? In what way did Barack Obama fall, and in what sense is Satan's fall like it?

5)The context of the Luke 10 passage is not eschatology or the Antichrist. Sidebar: "Antichrist" is an ill-defined concept in the NT anyway. Most of what we associate with the concept of a single eschatological Antichrist figure comes from medieval and, later, dispensationalist theology. The word "antichrist" only shows up once or twice in the NT, in the letters of John. It's nowhere in the gospels, and nowhere in Revelation. End Sidebar. Even if we accept that Jesus is saying "like Barack Obama," that doesn't mean that Obama is the antichrist (whatever that means anyway). It would just mean that there is some point of comparison between Obama's "fall" and Satan's.

But hey, as long as we're accepting this gentleman's conclusions for the sake of argument, let's look at Matthew 24:27 - "For just as lightning comes from the east and shines into the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be." So if lightning = baraq = Barack, then what Jesus is really saying is that "Just as Barack comes from the east and shines in the west," and that's compared to the coming of the Son of Man. Which means that, far from being the Antichrist, Barack Obama is actually the Messiah, returned to Earth to lead the true people of God! Somewhere, right now, John McCain is saying, "Aw, damn."

Nonsense. Baraq is completely unrelated to "Barack," and bamah was certainly nowhere in Jesus' discourse here. Even if it was, the idea that Jesus would drop the name of a person who won't be born for 2000 years into the middle of a conversation about something completely different is silly. What Jesus is doing here is comparing the sudden and spectacular fall of Satan with the sudden and spectacular descent of lightning from a stormy sky. His disciples have just come to him talking about their power over demons, and he responds with this.

Okay, so I've spent way more time on this than I wanted to, or than it deserved, but now I've written it, so I'll go ahead and post it. Suffice it to say, this is what happens when somebody learns just enough about the original languages to be dangerous.