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'Giza: The Truth' by Ian Lawton and Chris Oglivie-Herald
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 10, 2014 10:21 pm    Post subject: 'Giza: The Truth' by Ian Lawton and Chris Oglivie-Herald Reply with quote

I haven't seen a review here of this book, which is very worth a read. It came out in about 1999 and does a good job describing investigating all the myths, theories, controversies and politics surrounding the pyramids, the Sphinx, and the other monuments of the plateau, up to the eve of the Milenium.

The book begins with a fascinating account of all the explorations that have gone on over the ages, and looks in detail at how, when and why the monuments were built. The authors seem very fair and open-minded, giving every pertinent claim due consideration, and weighing all the evidence. Their conclusions generally come down on the side of 'orthodox' Egyptology and at times they are obliged to be quite condemnatory of the actions and behaviour of members of the 'alternative' camp. The erratic behaviour, publicity stunt-pulling and strange pronouncements of Zahi Hawass are also commented on, but on the whole he gets a favourable verdict.

This is a fairly hefty tome but I would recommend that people new to the subject don't let that put them off, and read it before they go to any alternative history book promising earth shattering revelations. (Works by the likes of West, Hancock and Bauval.) It will help the reader to take their claims with a pinch of salt.

It is good for putting the different ideas in context. The authors were thorough investigators, at times sneaking into off limits parts (including the relieving chambers of the Great Pyramid and the depth of the 'tomb of Osiris' water shaft) to check things for themselves, acts which seem justified in the midsts of so much misinformation and rumour.

I am still not entirely convinced by the explanations given for the apparent rainfall erosion on the Sphinx enclosure, or the mind-blowing logistics of building the pyramids with primitive tools in the allotted time-frame that the orthodox account requires, so mysteries remain. But various other myths, misconceptions and mystically derived notions are put to bed. There is also some good analysis of the context in which the pyramids belong, including examination of precursor structures such as the monuments of Sneferu. (Although again I am not entirely convinced by the conventional explanations for how they could have been built so rapidly.)

One minor criticism of the book is that on p, 15 it seems unduly snarky about 'Alexander (inappropriately named "the great")' accusing him -without any evidence- of being a destroyer of seats of ancient wisdom, including at Heliopolis. I have seen little to verify this claim. In fact Alexander founded the famous seat of learning Alexandria. By contras the Arab invaders are given too good a press, by these authors, and presented as philosophers with a passion for seeking and translating ancient texts. When you bear in mind the reports (including a number in Islamic sources) that it was the Caliph Omar who destroyed what remained of the Library of Alexandria, this assessment seems overly generous.
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 15, 2014 2:03 pm    Post subject: Re: 'Giza: The Truth' by Ian Lawton and Chris Oglivie-Herald Reply with quote

"One minor criticism of the book is that on p, 15 it seems unduly snarky about 'Alexander (inappropriately named "the great")' accusing him -without any evidence- of being a destroyer of seats of ancient wisdom, including at Heliopolis. I have seen little to verify this claim. In fact Alexander founded the famous seat of learning Alexandria. By contras the Arab invaders are given too good a press, by these authors, and presented as philosophers with a passion for seeking and translating ancient texts. When you bear in mind the reports (including a number in Islamic sources) that it was the Caliph Omar who destroyed what remained of the Library of Alexandria, this assessment seems overly generous."

James Henman, a Catholic (conservative?) historian wrote regarding the claimed destruction of books by Omar:
"[i]The errors in the sources are obvious and the story itself is almost wholly incredible. In the first place, Gregory Bar Hebræus represents the Christian in his story as being one John of Byzantium and that John was certainly dead by the time of the Moslem invasion of Egypt. Also, the prospect of the library taking six months to burn is simply fantastic and just the sort of exaggeration one might expect to find in Arab legends such as the Arabian Nights. However Alfred Butler's famous observation that the books of the library were made of vellum which does not burn is not true. The very late dates of the source material are also suspect as there is no hint of this atrocity in any early literature - even in the Coptic Christian chronicle of John of Nikiou (died after 640AD) who detailed the Arab invasion. Finally, the story comes from the hand of a Christian intellectual who would have been more than happy to show the religion of his rulers in a bad light. Agreeing with Gibbon this time, we can dismiss it as a legend
."

That being said emergent monotheism in its early phases seems always to have contained a touch of the book burning syndrome (who needs error when you have the very word of god). With Christianity it was aimed more at works considered "heretical" and the loss of pre-Christian literature attributed mainly to the washing away of ink in order to preserve in multiple copies, for example, Augustines sermons. I suppose the Amarna revolution had an element of such destruction through the defacing of texts on temple walls. If it had continued then maybe the next stage would have been the texts written on papyrus...... The Qur'an in one passage prohibits religious coercion but that was limited to people of the book and Arabia was purged of its pre-Islamic past. They didn't have to close temples or destroy shrines in Egypt because that had already been done by fanatical Christian monks. If a person is willing to murder somebody like Hypatia then destruction of books is no great matter.
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 15, 2014 3:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't necessarily believe the claim, but the fact that it is recordes in Muslim accounts shows that is not something Muslims would have been beyond, or that they would have been overly ashamed of. Fanatical Muslim iconoclasts in more recent times have not been above even the destruction of Islamic monuments and libraries notably Timbuktu in Mali. The religious authorities in Saudi Arabia have meanwhile even destroyed such Islamic shrines as the tombs of the wives of Muhammad, along with other mosques and cemetaries of great antiquity...

Moreover it wasn't the Copts who stripped the pyramids of their cladding, and it appears it was a Muslim fanatic who defaced the Great Sphinx. (As for Islam not being coercive, the widely held view that apostates should be executed somewhat undermines that view, as do Quranic passages speaking of the duty to fight until unbelief is no more and religion is all for Allah.)

Indeed there are examples of iconoclasm - as well as of less ideological destruction - from pharaonic times. The White Chapel of Senusret I only survived because it was broken up and used for fill in within a pylon built by Amenhotep III.

Anyway none of this is much discussed in the book in question, although the early explorations of the Caliph who dug into the Great Pyramid are discussed. I believe it is mentioned that a pot of gold just valuable enough to pay the workmen was discovered in the pyramid, giving rise to the suspicion that it was snuck in for that purpose. The absence of mention of bats in the early accounts is taken as evidence that the pyramids were not open prior to medieval times. Evidence is also examined for when exactly the pyramids were deprived of their cladding- there seem to be drawings from the 1600s showing the second and third pyramids still smooth sided.
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 15, 2014 6:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

dashotep wrote:
I don't necessarily believe the claim, but the fact that it is recordes in Muslim accounts shows that is not something Muslims would have been beyond, or that they would have been overly ashamed of. Fanatical Muslim iconoclasts in more recent times have not been above even the destruction of Islamic monuments and libraries notably Timbuktu in Mali. The religious authorities in Saudi Arabia have meanwhile even destroyed such Islamic shrines as the tombs of the wives of Muhammad, along with other mosques and cemetaries of great antiquity...

Moreover it wasn't the Copts who stripped the pyramids of their cladding, and it appears it was a Muslim fanatic who defaced the Great Sphinx. (As for Islam not being coercive, the widely held view that apostates should be executed somewhat undermines that view, as do Quranic passages speaking of the duty to fight until unbelief is no more and religion is all for Allah.)

Indeed there are examples of iconoclasm - as well as of less ideological destruction - from pharaonic times. The White Chapel of Senusret I only survived because it was broken up and used for fill in within a pylon built by Amenhotep III.

Anyway none of this is much discussed in the book in question, although the early explorations of the Caliph who dug into the Great Pyramid are discussed. I believe it is mentioned that a pot of gold just valuable enough to pay the workmen was discovered in the pyramid, giving rise to the suspicion that it was snuck in for that purpose. The absence of mention of bats in the early accounts is taken as evidence that the pyramids were not open prior to medieval times. Evidence is also examined for when exactly the pyramids were deprived of their cladding- there seem to be drawings from the 1600s showing the second and third pyramids still smooth sided.


I don't think any of the Abrahmic religions can boast about freedom from religious violence in their early formative years. Christianity, at least in the West, only came around very late to the acceptance of religious toleration, after the spilling of much blood, and having to come to terms with the forces unleashed through the Enlightenment. Politics, social justice have become so entwined in parts of the Middle East with religion that it's hard to say what is cause and effect.

I don't think vast majority of Muslims and Christians are intolerant but the proverbial zeal of a convert I think is mirrored in a religion as whole in its early phases when all are converts. It was Christianity and not Islam that suppressed the old religion in Egypt. Christians as well as Muslims plundered the ancient sites and the former also indulged in the destruction of idols - when the statue was too big, or there were other constraints, they simply smashed the faces in.

"He [Theodosius] also ordered the closure of all temples dedicated to the old gods. There was now widespread persecution of heretics and pagans, and a systematic destruction of temples was pursued throughout Egypt, with the result that the old faith was largely destroyed...despite the official change in religion, many old customs nevertheless survived". (Religion and Magic in Ancient Egypt", Rosalie David, p. 342).

For those Egyptians who wanted to hold onto their traditional religion the God of Abraham was Seth/Typhon (from Ptolomaic records) and we also have the Isian oracles from the beginning of the 2nd century that prophesy the destruction of the temples by the followers of the same god unless they fought for them. All this is long before Islam.
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 15, 2014 7:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, I would dispute that. Christianity's early spread was almost completely non-violent, unless you count the violence which the pacifist martyrs invited upon themselves. (Copts boast of the high portion of martyrs that the Egyptian Church produced).
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coptic_saints

Islam's early spread, by contrast, beyond Arabia, was almost entirely the result of militaristic expansionism. It's also notable that it was only Christendom that produced the enlightenment, including the scholarship that brought Ancient Egypt and its language back from forgotten obscurity. (Christian interest was also a motivating factor for the likes of Petrie.)

It was Christians who preserved the spoken language of ancient Egypt, moreover, which contributed to the unlocking of hieroglyphics. The Copts also preserved many old customs, and the old pagan names of the months- including Thout and Hathor. Coptic architecture sometimes even echoes the ancient building style, (notably the tapering walls and curving cornice of the white monastery at Sohag, which recall the old temples). The fact that paganism was replaced before Islam arrived on the scene says nothing for Islam. Egypt was largely converted to Christianity, and mostly, I dare say, peacefully (infighting notwithstanding), long before the edict of Theodosius. There was no Christian invasion of Egypt to establish Christian control, rather the religion gained ground naturally among the common masses. The notions that Jesus spent his infancy in Egypt (as per Matthew's gospel) and that St Mark preached and was martyred there, no doubt helped the conversion process.

That there was a systematic destruction of pagan temples seems questionable, as many Temples, to this day, remain more-or-less intact. The ruined church adjoining the temple at Dendera, for example, doesn't interfere with the well-preserved Temple, which is now in better shape than the church is! The relative lack of very old churches in Egypt surely shows who were more likely to have had their places of worship destroyed by persecutors!
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 16, 2014 8:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

dashotep wrote:
... The fact that paganism was replaced before Islam arrived on the scene says nothing for Islam. Egypt was largely converted to Christianity, and mostly, I dare say, peacefully (infighting notwithstanding), long before the edict of Theodosius. There was no Christian invasion of Egypt to establish Christian control, rather the religion gained ground naturally among the common masses. ...

Very romantic and misconception. See, inter alia, the events in Alexandria around 400, very well done and shown in authentic in the movie "Agora" (Spain, 2009).

"I don't think any of the Abrahmic religions can boast about freedom from religious violence in their early formative years." by Iker can I underline only. Would Egypt have not been conquered by the Arabs would Christianity certainly done exactly the same thing as, for example, in Central and South America. That some Bible-archaeologists in their endeavor to prove that their scripture is a kind of history book changes nothing on that...
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 16, 2014 8:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lutz wrote:
"I don't think any of the Abrahmic religions can boast about freedom from religious violence in their early formative years." by Iker can I underline only. Would Egypt have not been conquered by the Arabs would Christianity certainly done exactly the same thing as, for example, in Central and South America. That some Bible-archaeologists in their endeavor to prove that their scripture is a kind of history book changes nothing on that...


i don't know much about early christianity, as like you, i think it made up (like any religion), in this case from earlier, older religions, but i get the impression from roman sources that christianity was not a violent religion before it became the official religion of rome. even then, when people talk about the violence and force of christianity, they are referring to the medieval period, which to be honest is the time of the spread of catholicism (not christianity, as you know german countries, the netherlands and most of britain were protestant by 1550's) through the americas. the inquisition is a catholic instrument, and that is what was used by spain in the 16th century. protestant versions of christianity seem to be less violent in their spread (though the more stricter of the faiths may be more violent in their converions).

if christianity was a violent religion pushed on other cultures in ancient times, i would think it was so because the romans took it on.
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 16, 2014 10:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The "Roman Catholic Version" you are talking about did not exist in the beginning. This seperation took place later. And the Protestant version of Christianity was (and is in some places on earth) not better and just as intolerant and ruthless when it came to their interests...

Around 400 in Alexandria the Christians were fighting against the ideas and philosophy of the Late Antik Egypt / World (and by doing this also against the one from Ancient Egypt). Murder and violence, iconoclasm against buildings, works of art and writing were acceptable to the enforcement of their faith. They wanted the supremacy, the power, and have thrown overboard the ideals of their carpenter a few centuries after his death.

It's about the basic idea of ​​the monotheists: There is only one God, and thou shalt no other before me. This program calls itself intolerance... And is still used for its legitimation.
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 16, 2014 2:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

"In 388 a prefect was sent around Egypt, Syria, and Asia Minor for the purpose of destroying temples and breaking up pagan associations; it was then that the Serapeum at Alexandria was destroyed" (Theodosius the Great, Catholic Encyclopedia,)
A point I did make was that paganism was suppressed in Egypt not by Muslims but through a combination of laws issued by an Christian Emperor and the attacks of fanatical Christian monks. I don't doubt Christianity gained converts in Egypt purely through the spread of the gospel but I would have to read the source texts in state of heightened unawareness in order to conclude that the old religion practices ended peacefully with everyone rushing to the Churches through a process of interior conversion. Neither do I doubt that if the temples and shrines had been left alone that Islam would also have ultimately closed them, if the precedent set in Arabia is taken as being representative.
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Christianity's early spread was almost completely non-violent, unless you count the violence which the pacifist martyrs invited upon themselves. (Copts boast of the high portion of martyrs that the Egyptian Church produced).
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coptic_saints

I think its easier to argue that expediency dictated that Christian violence was restrained (it wasn't non-existent) in the early days for the simple reason that they would have been wiped out, but as soon as they had the upper hand they didn't hesitate to use force.(Michael Gaddis, cf. “Religious Violence in the Christian Roman Empire", p. 23-25) As is often pointed out "in the century opened by the Peace of the Church, more Christians died for their faith at the hands of fellow Christians than had died before in all the persecutions" and that "Christians might point with envy to the concordia that prevailed among non-Christians, just as non-Christians pointed with amazement at the murderous intolerance within the now dominant religion” (Ramsay MacMullen, p. 14) You mention the Christian martyr/saints in Egypt and I'm sure there were many sincere, and genuinely good people amongst them but once you step out of the hagiographical works a more nuanced picture emerges. Take Schenude, a Coptic saint, who responded to pagan landowners protests about monks ransacking their home in search of idols by replying "There is no crime for those who have Christ". (Michael Gaddis, P. 211, Brown p. 104)) Or take Saint Cyril who is blamed by scholars for having provoked the gruesome murder of philosopher Hypatia and the attacks on the Serapeum: “two of the most spectacular acts of this age”.(H. A Drake, p. 401) Anyone with just a passing acquaintance of the conquest of the Americas would, I think, hesitate to make any claims about Christianity having spread throughout the world entirely through peaceful means. Pope Benedict was very badly advised when he made a speech several years ago about how the Americas were converted and he had to apologize profusely when he was told by historians what had actually happened with the forced conversions and cruelty inflicted by the Europeans.
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Islam's early spread, by contrast, beyond Arabia, was almost entirely the result of militaristic expansionism. It's also notable that it was only Christendom that produced the enlightenment, including the scholarship that brought Ancient Egypt and its language back from forgotten obscurity. (Christian interest was also a motivating factor for the likes of Petrie.)

You mention that Islams early spread was entirely militaristic but this might suggest that without the dog-eat-dog world of empires rising and falling in late antiquity and the early medieval world that Islam would never have spread when the evidence clearly contradicts that. The single largest Muslim population in the world today, Indonesia, came about without any military conquest but largely through the good example set by Muslim traders. It is true that the Scottish Enlightment had "believing" clergymen but as Herman observes "This, too, made the Scottish Enlightenment unique". (The Scottish Enlightenment, Arthur Henman, p. 185) Of course much depends on how belief is defined. He gives an example of another Scottish ministers satirical tract that described the creed of these "believers", i.e Christianity is reduced to a social welfare club, with no references to an afterlife or scriptures and a dependence on classical writers.(Herman, p. 186) If you mix in the more well known hostile French skeptics then I think its too much of a strain to pin the tag of Christianity on the Enlightment. As for the early "Christian" explorers of Ancient Egypt - they ransacked the place. Those who wanted to prove the bible historically true went to Egypt but didn't find what they wanted. Those who went on treasure hunt pillaged the tombs and even used high explosives when they wanted to speed things up. Taking Petrie as representative of the early explorers is wildly unbalanced. Even when we enter the modern era of archeology we have the awful sight of King Tutankhamen being dismembered like Osiris (even to the point of his penis going missing) in order to strip Him of the jewels. Mummies being used as fuel for fires, bodies of mummies being ground to powder to used as medicine and other assorted blasphemies committed against the dead. No. sorry I cannot accept you black and white observations.
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It was Christians who preserved the spoken language of ancient Egypt, moreover, which contributed to the unlocking of hieroglyphics. The Copts also preserved many old customs, and the old pagan names of the months- including Thout and Hathor. Coptic architecture sometimes even echoes the ancient building style, (notably the tapering walls and curving cornice of the white monastery at Sohag, which recall the old temples).

You might seem to suggest that the keeping of calendrical names etc. was through the conscious choice of preserving elements of the old religion in Egypt but what is your source for this? There are many examples throughout the world (including our own days of the week) when what had been a longstanding social custom was maintained but stripped of its original religious inspiration or transformed or "baptized" and made "pure" in the Christian era.
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The fact that paganism was replaced before Islam arrived on the scene says nothing for Islam. Egypt was largely converted to Christianity, and mostly, I dare say, peacefully (infighting notwithstanding), long before the edict of Theodosius. There was no Christian invasion of Egypt to establish Christian control, rather the religion gained ground naturally among the common masses. The notions that Jesus spent his infancy in Egypt (as per Matthew's gospel) and that St Mark preached and was martyred there, no doubt helped the conversion process

Scholars have long since dropped the pretense about the rapid mass conversion of Egypt because the epigraphic evidence excavated in the 19/20th century could no longer sustain such a simplistic viewpoint and that the process of conversion was much slower that earlier scholars (often writing with a pronounced Christian bias) asserted. Even Peter Brown acknowledged (giving examples from Egypt) that "Paganism, therefore, was brutally demolished from below" ("The World of Late Antiquity", p. 104) Even allowing for the exaggeration that pours out from the mouth of a triumphalist I don't see any reason why the testimony of contemporary Christian cheerleader (Rufinus) should be ignored when he describes the tide of destruction that followed the demolition of the Serapeion and how it spread: "throughout every Egyptian city, fort, village, rural district, riverbank, even the desert, whatever shrine could be found or rather, tomb [of the “dead” gods], at the urging of every bishop”. (Christianity & Paganism in the Fourth to Eighth Centuries, p. 53, Ramsay MacMullen) The violence of the monks was such that the Christian Empereor Theodosius acknowledged that "the monks commit many crimes" and restrained their movements. (H. A. Drake, Constantine and the Bishops, p. 409-410) Of course this isn't meant to suggest that all monks were violent but its equally wrong to suggest that all of them were proto-hippie pacifists.

Quote:
That there was a systematic destruction of pagan temples seems questionable, as many Temples, to this day, remain more-or-less intact. The ruined church adjoining the temple at Dendera, for example, doesn't interfere with the well-preserved Temple, which is now in better shape than the church is! The relative lack of very old churches in Egypt surely shows who were more likely to have had their places of worship destroyed by persecutors!

You seem to compare Egypt under Muslim rule unfavorably with Christian rule with respect to the preservation of monuments but that simply doesn't accord with the facts. Compare your observations of Denderah with the description of an Egyptologist:
"Nowhere, perhaps, is the furious terror of these attacks more apparent than in the great temple of Hathor at Denderah, though in fact, there is hardly a temple in Egypt that does not bear the marks of the Christians' flat copper chisels, running deeply and quickly across the ancient reliefs, cutting the feared images into harmless fragments. At Denderah they must have erected scaffolding to reach the full extent of the broad high walls and from these platforms they attacked the wall scenes one after another as conscientiously as the avenging agents of Thuthmosis III had attacked the figures of Hatshepsut some seventeen centuries before...." (John Romer, Romers Egypt, p. 214)

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As for Islam not being coercive, the widely held view that apostates should be executed somewhat undermines that view, as do Quranic passages speaking of the duty to fight until unbelief is no more and religion is all for Allah.

You mention apostasy in Islam and this might suggest that the relative paucity of Muslim converts to Christianity is through fear but even Christian missionaries at the turn of the 19th/20th century would emphasize that the straightforward non-Trinitarian beliefs of Islam made Christianity a complicated and non-attractive proposition to a pure monotheist. Christianity cannot boast about its more relaxed attitude towards apostasy throughout its history:
"When the Roman Empire became Christian, apostates were punished by deprivation of all civil rights. They could not give evidence in a court of law, and could neither bequeath nor inherit property. To induce anyone to apostatize was an offence punishable with death" [Theodosian Code, XVI, title 7, De apostatis; title 8, De Judæis; "Corpus juris romani ante-Justinianæi" (Bonn, 1840), 1521 - 1607; Code of Justinian I, title 7, De apostatis l. c. 60, 61 ("Apostasy", Catholic encyclopedia) Can you provide any contemporary evidence from Egypt that widespread forced conversion or suppression took place during the Muslim era? How could the Coptic Church have survived if that had happened? Why were Imperial decrees needed (including death penalties for private devotions) to suppress paganism if Christianity was such a peaceful movement that conquered the hearts of everyone?

There is a wider issue involved here and that is the good guy/bad guy tags that plagues Christian/Muslim dialogue today. A humble admission of past wrongdoing would be far more productive than blaming one side as fanatical vandals whilst ignoring the very same things done by the "good guys" at a certain point in their history.
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 16, 2014 5:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Iker wrote:
... There is a wider issue involved here and that is the good guy/bad guy tags that plagues Christian/Muslim dialogue today. A humble admission of past wrongdoing would be far more productive than blaming one side as fanatical vandals whilst ignoring the very same things done by the "good guys" at a certain point in their history.

I would sign immediately. Is in the English-speaking world the so called "Ringparabel" from Gotthold Ephraim Lessing`s "Nathan der Weise" (1779) a term? This text should be obligation for all synagogues, churches and mosques around the world...

Greetings, Lutz.
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 16, 2014 7:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The events that led to Hypatia's killing were a bit more complex than is generally made out, and a Christian chronicler mentioning the event (Socrates Scholasticus) opined that it was against the spirit of Christianity. By that time, of course, the Christians had been on the receiving end of enough persecution and violence, at the hands of both pagans and Jews.

If a perfect was charged with shutting down all the temples in 388 then he presumably did a bad job as Philae was still in business well over a century later.

As for the conquest of the Americas, anyone with a passing understanding of what the religion of the Aztec empire involved would be hard pressed to lament the destruction of said empire (even though accidentally introduced diseases were more deadly than swords or muskets). The Catholic Church by that time has assumed the right to order death for heretics etc. but it at least didn't make actual human sacrifice part of its daily liturgy!

As for protestants, they have made poorer custodians of the architectural and artistic creations of their Catholic ancestors in Western Europe than the Coptic Egyptians were of the temples of their pagan ancestors. There are probably more defaced saints and angels in England and Germany than there are defaced gods and goddesses in Egypt. (It'a quite interesting that the iconoclasts in both regions and eras both went for the faces and hands of the figures they wished to deprive of power, and especially the eyes in many cases. I read somewhere that tombs discovered in Amarna in the modern era were defaced in similar fashion after their opening, showing the enduring nature of such iconoclastic feelings and possibly superstitious fears).

Muslims also defaced ancient monuments in Egypt, notably the sphinx, and elsewhere they defaced Christian imagery, for example in Churches in Cappadocia...

http://bloggingsbetter.files.wordpress.com/2010/05/cappadocia-crucifixion.jpg

There are plenty of instances of forced conversion by Muslims, including captured crusaders (including members of Louis IX's Egyptian debacle) who were offered a choice between conversion or death. Local Christians were also persecuted at this time, especially under the Mameluks came to power, after which the percentage of the population that was Christian nosedived from perhaps 50% to about 10%, largely as a result of state-sponsored mob violence. In the 1300s, Muslim mobs were given free rein over set periods to loot and terrorise Copts.
The number of churches in Egypt fell from 2048 in the year 1200 to 112 in 1600.

See: 'Motherland Lost: The Egyptian and Coptic Quest for Modernity'
By Samuel Tadros.
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 17, 2014 12:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

And again I see my review of the self-styled true believing monotheists clearly and impressively confirmed...
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 17, 2014 9:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

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The events that led to Hypatia's killing were a bit more complex than is generally made out, and a Christian chronicler mentioning the event (Socrates Scholasticus) opined that it was against the spirit of Christianity. By that time, of course, the Christians had been on the receiving end of enough persecution and violence, at the hands of both pagans and Jews.

Yes Christians were subject to persecution at times but modern scholarship points out that it was infrequent and gives various reasons why it happened, e.g calling the gods of other religions evil devils, risking social disturbances through predicting the imminent end of the world, describing the Roman Empire as the Whore of Babylon and predicting its imminent demise, passages from the New Testament calling on converts to hate their mother and fathers, charges of cannibalism through out of context reading of Eucharistic passages and claims that they were associated with orgies, were not likely to endear them to Roman authorities. In part this is why Christianity was treated as superstition rather than a religion for much of the period in question. Around the turn of the 3/4th centuries (i.e before the conversion of Constantine) a Church Council (Elvera) passed a resolution that withheld the crown of martyrdom from those who were attacking pagan shrines because the intent was too blatant and no different from suicide. (Christianity and Paganism in the Fourth to Eighth Centuries, Ramsay MacMullen, p, 27) In some ways the suicide bombers of today have their antecedents with those Christian who sought an assured and early entry into heaven. We have records of courts trial of Christians with the Roman judge telling them to go and jump off a cliff instead trying to push and provoke him to execute them so intent were they in wanting martyrdom.

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If a perfect was charged with shutting down all the temples in 388 then he presumably did a bad job as Philae was still in business well over a century later.

No, the he did his job alright. Philae was an exception through an old agreement between Diocletian and Blemmyes-Nobadae who used to visit Elephantine once a year to honor Isis. They protected a border on behalf of the Romans. The pre-Christian Romans were always strongly inclined to keep their word and honor agreements and this continued even through the period of the Theodosian anti-pagan decrees. The Emperor Justinian was more fanatical, as well as being involved in book burning, forced conversions he ripped up the agreement, had the priests of Philae arrested and the images carted back to Constantinople as "works of art". (cf. Jaraslov Cerny, Ancient Egyptian Religion, p. 150) "He did not see it as murder if the victims did not share his own beliefs..'Those he disagreed with he was likely to mutilate if he didn't behead or crucify them; and a number of highly placed pagans who escaped baptism by suicide...." (Christianity and Paganism in the Fourth to Eighth Centuries, Ramsay MacMullen, p, 27)

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As for the conquest of the Americas, anyone with a passing understanding of what the religion of the Aztec empire involved would be hard pressed to lament the destruction of said empire (even though accidentally introduced diseases were more deadly than swords or muskets).

Human sacrifice appeared in all bronze age cultures at some point.(Michael Wood, "Conquistadors") The America's were being taken by force whether there was human sacrifice or not. Bishop La Casas, a contemporary witness, wrote an an account of the appalling cruelty inflicted on the native populations and that process began with the first visits of Columbus before they even knew of the Aztecs.

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The Catholic Church by that time has assumed the right to order death for heretics etc. but it at least didn't make actual human sacrifice part of its daily liturgy!

No, its daily liturgy involves the celebration of the mass and the sacrifice of Jesus. "Take this and eat, this is my body which will be given up for you..." Catholics and Orthodox both believe the bread is turned into the actual body and blood of Jesus. Its called the sacrifice of the mass because it transcends space and time and actually takes part in what happened on Calvary. This might recall to you similar thoughts that formed part of the Ancient Egypt's theology of the "first times" and the daily renewal and participation in creation. Of course Christians will say Jesus was more than a man. There were indeed voices amongst the monks who went with the conquistadors who realized that their human sacrifice was a door opener to the Christian sacrifice of the mass but the grounds for robbing them of their land (via the bulls of donation) didn't exactly encourage such approaches. I also have accounts of a monk describing how ordinarily the victim sacrificed went with "joy" to their death because they were now guaranteed a high place in the next life eg:
"Friar Marcus de Nica in 1539, speaking of the Chichimecas, says that they were looked upon by other tribes in the light of saints and priests. They lived in the woods, and "they eat such things as they of the country give them in alms. " Certain of their small temples had small round window spaces, full of dead men's skulls. In front of the temple was a great round ditch for the purpose of immolation. From time to time "they of this valley cast lots whose luck (honor) it shall be to be sacrificed, and they make him great cheer, on whom the lot falls, and with great joy they crown him with flowers upon a bed prepared in the said ditch all full of flowers and sweet herbs, on which they lay him along, and lay great store of dry wood on both sides of him, and set it on fire on either part and so he dies." By which it appears that the victim "took great pleasure" in being sacrificed. He was afterwards beatified and worshiped for that year: at the end of which period, his head was set up, with others, "within those windows." On the other hand, prisoners were burnt in another ditch, without flowers or any ceremonies, merely as a sacrifice - to whom, it is not stated." ("Ancient Rites and Ceremonies", Grace A. Murray, p. 19) As far as I can recall the clergy who went to the Americas didn't lay too much stress on the human sacrifice element because the bible describes the Holy Spirit as inspiring Jephtah to do the same thing. "Then the Spirit of the LORD came upon Jephthah, and he passed over Gilead, and Manasseh, and passed over Mizpeh of Gilead, and from Mizpeh of Gilead he passed over unto the children of Ammon. 30 And Jephthah vowed a vow unto the LORD, and said, If thou shalt without fail deliver the children of Ammon into mine hands, 31 Then it shall be, that whatsoever cometh forth of the doors of my house to meet me, when I return in peace from the children of Ammon, shall surely be the LORD'S, and I will offer it up for a burnt offering." (Judges 11:29-30)

"The obvious import of the narrative is that the daughter of Jephte was offered up as a human sacrifice, and in fact, such has been the unanimous interpretation of it in Jewish, as well as in early Christian, tradition." (Jephte, Catholic Encyclopedia)

On the theme of moral improvement (which you might be alluding to in your comment) I would compare this with Mansio Serra de Leguizamon, the so called Last Conquistador,who at the age of 78 wrote this letter to King Phillip II,
"For the peace of my soul and before I start this will, I declare that for many years now I have desired to speak to the Catholic majesty of King Philip our lord, knowing how Catholic and Christian he is, because I took part in the name of the Crown in the discovery, conquest and settlement of these kingdoms when we deprived those who were the lords, the Incas, who had ruled them as their own. And it should be known to His Most Catholic Majesty that we found those realms in such good order that there was not a thief or a vicious man, nor an adulteress, nor were there fallen women admitted among them, nor were they an immoral people, being content and honest in their labor.....I wish Your Majesty to understand the motive that moves me to make this statement is the peace of my conscience and because of the guilt I share. For we destroyed by our evil behavior such a government as was enjoyed by these natives. They were so free of crime they could leave gold or silver worth a hundred thousand pesos in their open house ...So that when they discovered we were thieves and men who sought to force their wives and daughters to commit sin with them, they despised us. But now things have come to such a pass in offence of God, owing to the bad example we have set them in all things, that these natives from doing no evil have turned into people who can do no good.... I inform Your Majesty that there is no more I can do to alleviate these injustices other than by my words, in which I beg god to pardon me, for I am moved to say this, seeing that I am the last to die of the conquistadors" (Michael Wood, p. 274)

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As for protestants, they have made poorer custodians of the architectural and artistic creations of their Catholic ancestors in Western Europe than the Coptic Egyptians were of the temples of their pagan ancestors. There are probably more defaced saints and angels in England and Germany than there are defaced gods and goddesses in Egypt. (It'a quite interesting that the iconoclasts in both regions and eras both went for the faces and hands of the figures they wished to deprive of power, and especially the eyes in many cases. I read somewhere that tombs discovered in Amarna in the modern era were defaced in similar fashion after their opening, showing the enduring nature of such iconoclastic feelings and possibly superstitious fears).

Yes I have seen the hammer work of Oliver Cromwell and the smashed in faces of the Virgin in an English Cathedral. Maybe this was another example of the proverbial zeal of converts that monotheism is prone to because it didn't last long after the puritan phase. I still tend to think England up until recent times as being essentially "Catholic", albeit not Roman. The biggest religion in town is now Mammon as best I can tell with all the main Churches now in the process of collapsing - I genuinely feel sorry for sincere Christians who now look around and see a multitude of what were once places of worship turned into pubs, clubs, flats etc. In Britain the leaders of the attack on the poor (who have to pay for the sins of the rich post 2008) are self proclaimed Christians and Satan/Set couldn't have picked better representatives to undermine Christianity.

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Muslims also defaced ancient monuments in Egypt, notably the sphinx, and elsewhere they defaced Christian imagery, for example in Churches in Cappadocia...

There are always extremists in monotheistic faiths but most of the time they are only a small minority. Their acts also can provoke reactions from people of other religions who don't have a theological based hatred of the "other" people but retaliate to attacks in a similar way so violence begets violence.

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There are plenty of instances of forced conversion by Muslims, including captured crusaders (including members of Louis IX's Egyptian debacle) who were offered a choice between conversion or death. Local Christians were also persecuted at this time, especially under the Mameluks came to power, after which the percentage of the population that was Christian nosedived from perhaps 50% to about 10%, largely as a result of state-sponsored mob violence. In the 1300s, Muslim mobs were given free rein over set periods to loot and terrorise Copts.
The number of churches in Egypt fell from 2048 in the year 1200 to 112 in 1600.

If Islam wanted to wipe out Christianity in Egypt it could have done so but because they were "people of the book" the Qur'an gave some protection. A Muslim had no chance of practicing his faith in Christendom whereas a Christian or Jew was allowed some freedom in Muslim lands. The Crusades would not have helped Christian/ Muslim relations in Muslim controlled lands but I do not want to fall into "God guy/Bad guy" trap. The potential of good and bad is latent in every individual and in aggregate within every religion. The dual Horus-Seth deity resonated strongly with me when first I saw a depiction of him and monotheism in its formative stage in a new religion, or in the form of recent convert, can lead to a predominance of Set in my opinion.
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dashotep
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 17, 2014 7:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It is hardly legitimate to compare early Christian martyrs with Islamic suicide bombers, since Christian martyrs did not do violence to others. Only during the Crusades did Christendom (and then only Western Christendom) seriously embrace notions of holy war and martyrdom in battle.

Anyway the decrees of Roman Emperors, much less the doings of Spanish Conquistadors, have no bearing on the conduct of Egyptian Chriatians. (I'm not impressed with accounts about willing sacrifice victims, either, as thought that makes it all fine and dandy.) Another thing Christianity had to recommend it, in an Egyptian context, was that it didn't call for the sacrifice of countless puppies...

http://www.livescience.com/13473-mummified-puppies-egyptian-dog-catacombs.html

Muslims and Jews lived within Christendom at various points in history. A Muslim author during the crusades condemned Muslim peasants for preferring to live under the Latin Christians in the kingdom of Jerusalem than under Muslim princes. (There is also, however, the matter that Muslims generally did not encounter Christians in any lands that had not previously been Christian, and which did not fall to Islam through violent conquest.)

Not wishing to fall into the good-guy/bad guy trap may be admirable up to a point, but there is a trend within the West to be too critical of our own ancestors and their co-religionists, while being too complementary of those of more foreign religions and cultures (which includes being too willing to skip over the darker aspects of Islam). I think that was a trap that the authors in question somewhat fell into when making the comments I originally referred to. However this was hardly relevant to the bulk of the Giza book, so I don't think it should dominate this discussion.

The fact that the potential for good and bad is latent in all is irrelevant, and doesn't mean the natures and effects of different religions and their teachings should not be scrutinised. 'People of the book' are only protected under Islam if they submit to Islamic rule, pay an additional tax called the Jizya, and who feel themselves subdued:

'Fight those who do not believe in Allah or in the Last Day and who do not consider unlawful what Allah and His Messenger have made unlawful and who do not adopt the religion of truth from those who were given the Scripture - [fight] until they give the jizyah willingly while they are humbled.' Quran 9:29.

In Egypt this tax was imposed well into the nineteenth century. The Coptic Christians were subjected to additional humiliations in order to mark their submission, restricted to certain occupations, obliged to wear certain colours, and forbidden to ride horses, among other signifier of their second class status in their own ancestral land. That aside from being subjected to periodic attacks.

The Muslim Brotherhood seem to seek to impose the Jizya on the Copts in the present day. http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2013/sep/10/egypts-muslim-brotherhood-convert-islam-or-pay-jiz/
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Iker
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 19, 2014 9:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

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It is hardly legitimate to compare early Christian martyrs with Islamic suicide bombers, since Christian martyrs did not do violence to others. Only during the Crusades did Christendom (and then only Western Christendom) seriously embrace notions of holy war and martyrdom in battle.

Those who attacked pagan shrines seeking martyrdom were the cause of violence and the stirring up of hatred against Christians. The Council of Elvira, wisely, sought to discourage such attacks because, in my opinion, innocent Christians paid the price for their storming of heaven. The common teaching of Islam, based on a passage from the Qur'an (2:193), is that suicide is a no-no. Others point out that suicide, including taking the life of bystanders, is sanctified in the bible with the story of Samson bringing the house down (literally) in Judges 16:30.
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Anyway the decrees of Roman Emperors, much less the doings of Spanish Conquistadors, have no bearing on the conduct of Egyptian Chriatians.

When those decrees were issued partly through the appeal of Egyptian Christians to the Emperor then they are directly relevant. The demolition of the Serapeum in Alexandria ("One of the Wonders of the Ancient World") came about through their appeals to the Roman Emperor. They are also relevant when it comes to dialogue with other faiths when one side takes the position that their faith is all white and the others is all black. If you seem to suggest that Islam is by it's nature violent compared to Christianity then it's only reasonable to point out inconsistencies with the argument. All monotheistic religions can be prone to violence based on theology. Those who worshiped Isis, Osiris, Horus and the traditional Gods of Egypt were robbed of their shrines, temples and religion. Set unreconciled is the god of extremes and that can come in liberal (no Maat) form or in conservative fundamentalist form (The Truth is mine and only mine).

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I'm not impressed with accounts about willing sacrifice victims, either, as thought that makes it all fine and dandy.

That Jesus was a willing sacrifice "so that sins may be forgiven" was/is a very big part of the teachings of the apostolic churches. A lot of people in the Western Churches this Good Friday would have been relying on the efficacy of that willing sacrifice.

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Another thing Christianity had to recommend it, in an Egyptian context, was that it didn't call for the sacrifice of countless puppies...

The article doesn't say it was a sacrifice nor does it say it was obligatory. I think Ancient Egyptians might think our Christian West is hypocritical when it comes to animals. Ostensibly Christian countries eat the meat of animals that have been subject to the most brutal and cruel rearing with factory farm methods. According to Herodotus the Egyptians had a great love of their animals and allowed them into their homes and they are depicted with them and their pets in the other world on tomb walls. In this case the article said they hoped that the animal would intercede on the persons behalf (since animals are morally innocent as well as being sacred to a particular god?)

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Muslims and Jews lived within Christendom at various points in history. A Muslim author during the crusades condemned Muslim peasants for preferring to live under the Latin Christians in the kingdom of Jerusalem than under Muslim princes.

I would like to see the source if possible for the context. Jews and Muslims were massacred when the Crusaders took Jerusalem with no exemptions based on age or gender. For much of the relevant period Jews preferred to live under Muslim rule (there are many reasons for this, including the traditional Good Friday attacks on the Jewish populations in Christian towns) and there is also the well known saying of the Orthodox Christian leader in Constantinople that he would prefer to live under the rule of the turban than the mitre. When Islam ruled in Andalusia Muslims lived in peace with Jews and Christians and learning flourished until a puritan faction came to the fore. When It became Christian Spain all the Jews were expelled and many of the former found safe haven in Muslim lands. Fanatical Jew haters in Islam probably know little of their past history.

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(There is also, however, the matter that Muslims generally did not encounter Christians in any lands that had not previously been Christian, and which did not fall to Islam through violent conquest.)

You seem intent on stressing or insinuating that Islam only spreads through violence. This is untrue and I have already given you a prime example that flatly contradicts. Yes indeed the Abrahamic faiths have always had a violent element. The Egyptians of the Ptolemaic period believed they knew why this was and I tend to agree with them.

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Not wishing to fall into the good-guy/bad guy trap may be admirable up to a point, but there is a trend within the West to be too critical of our own ancestors and their co-religionists, while being too complementary of those of more foreign religions and cultures (which includes being too willing to skip over the darker aspects of Islam).

In principle I agree with your point. Those who paint one religion as all white are just as bad as those who paint it all black when it leads to pride and builds barriers.

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The fact that the potential for good and bad is latent in all is irrelevant, and doesn't mean the natures and effects of different religions and their teachings should not be scrutinised.

The point I have tried to repeatedly make is that it should be accompanied by self-scrutiny. If this is done the dialogue is likely to be much more fruitful. People who put themselves on high horses tend to have hard falls.

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'People of the book' are only protected under Islam if they submit to Islamic rule, pay an additional tax called the Jizya, and who feel themselves subdued:

The Jews, when Christians were still considered a Jewish sect, were given exemption from military service by the Romans and paid a tax instead. When the Empire was "converted" to Christianity at some point rules were introduced such that only Christians were allowed to serve in the army. Islam followed the practice of the latter and only Muslims could serve in their armies and non-Muslims paid a tax instead. In the early days (I haven't studied if any changes came about through time) it was considered a "good deal" (1 dinar) because the tax was relatively small and was only applied to able bodied men (monks were also exempt) and if you weren't the military sort it was one way of avoiding fighting.

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Fight those who do not believe in Allah or in the Last Day and who do not consider unlawful what Allah and His Messenger have made unlawful and who do not adopt the religion of truth from those who were given the Scripture - [fight] until they give the jizyah willingly while they are humbled.' Quran 9:29. In Egypt this tax was imposed well into the nineteenth century. The Coptic Christians were subjected to additional humiliations in order to mark their submission, restricted to certain occupations, obliged to wear certain colours, and forbidden to ride horses, among other signifier of their second class status in their own ancestral land. That aside from being subjected to periodic attacks. The Muslim Brotherhood seem to seek to impose the Jizya on the Copts in the present day.

If reporting is correct (and I have doubts) then its an example of people who don't understand how the tax came about in 7th century Arabia and are trying to apply it ignorantly in the modern world in a legalistic and robotic way. Proof texting and passages ripped out of context is the staple diet of the scriptural fanatic. Its the spirit of Set, the god of the Abrahamic extremists. A Muslim could just as easily do the same with out of context verse ripping e.g : "Matt 10:34 Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword."

The same kind of people who make up Christianity e.g Catholics , Protestants are reflected in some way in Islam with the Shia's and Sunni's . The former have many practices that recall Catholicism whilst the latter reflects the more austere approaches to divine worship that characterizes protestantism. There is even a kind of Sola Scriptura/Tradition divide in Islam with some placing all the emphasis on the Qur'an whilst others include tradition in the form of hadiths as being part of the deposit of faith. There have been puritan and liberal movements, progressive and reactionary wings in Islam as well. Islam came 600 years after Christianity and in some ways it shows because they are now doing to one another what Catholics and protestants did to another during and after the reformation, i.e killing one another. Instead of Christians trying to teach Muslims about the problems they have had in the past and how Muslims might learn from them it's more likely they will get the useless platitudes of politicians who think spin is the answer for everything or the voices of condemnation from fundamentalist Christians who either don't know their own history or, like their Muslim fundamentalist counterpart, have "The Truth " and everyone else is wrong.
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