Friday, July 31, 2009

Sad Christian Attempts at Gematria

Apparently it's not just wacked out Orthos who can dishonestly distort the Bible to make crazy psuedo-mystical arguments. Thanks, WND!

An American Christian has produced a brief film for YouTube that connects one statement by Jesus in the Gospel of Luke to President Barack Obama.

His 4-minute video focuses on the direct quote: "I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven." (Luke 10:18)

"When I started doing a little research, I found the Greek word for 'lightning' is 'astrape', and the Hebrew equivalent is 'Baraq,'" said YouTube contributor "ppsimmons," a self-described Christian with a theological education and many years in the ministry, who spoke to WND under condition of anonymity. "I thought that was fascinating."

Let's back up, bozo. First off, let's clarify that you're starting from Luke supposedly quoting Jesus, which is not the same thing, particularly since this whole "cool coincidence" hinges on the phrasing. (This is all the more so ridiculous given that you're working from a not-very-accurate English translation of a Greek text.) Anyway, Luke says Jesus says he saw Satan "like lightning from heaven"- which, starting from the extremely little Hebrew I know, is closer to "Barak mi Shamayim." Hmm, not too convincing, there. This is verified by your OWN New Testament Lexicon Search engine.

So, off to a terrible start. Let's keep going, shall we?

As he continued looking into the rest of the words in the phrase, he focused on "heaven," and found that it can refer not just to God's dwelling place, but also "the heights" or "high places."

He then recalled Isaiah 14:14, where Lucifer, another name for Satan, is quoted as saying, "I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High."

"I wondered what the word 'heights' is," said ppsimmons, "and I looked it up in the dictionary, and it's 'Bamah.'"

Hang on. So, having found a convenient NT phrase that uses the word Barak, you then take a huge random jump over to Isaiah, writing eight hundred years before Luke, and take a single word, heights, as opposed to, say, the total phrase, heights of the clouds, and use it to make a ridiculous connection. Just one problem genius. The verse doesn't say "height", which is "Bamma." (Related to the modern Hebrew word bimah, or stage.) It says "heights", or "Bammot." Oh, that pesky Hebrew grammar. The whole phrase, incidentally, is Bammot mi Annanim. Smoking gun! (According to bloggers with better Hebrew than I, it's actually bamatei.)

Thus, on the video, the announcer notes, "If spoken by a Jewish rabbi today, influenced by the poetry of Isaiah, He (Jesus) would say these words in Hebrew ... 'I saw Satan as Baraq Ubamah.'

Absolutely not. Barak Bamah means "Lightning Height", or "Lightning Mound." A good name for an electrified candy bar maybe. Any connection to an Antichrist reference? Not really. You are taking two verses supposedly about Satan from two books that have nothing to do with each other, written in different languages hundreds of years apart, selecting random words from the verse while ignoring the conextual grammar, and then, after all that, they still don't sound like "Barack Obama" so you have to add a random syllable. You might as well be taking random vocabulary words from Faust and Lucifer and mashing them together to find analogs to modern politicians' names. Hey, I bet it would be easy to get "Michael Steele," or even "George Bush" that way.

"Gosh, was Jesus giving us a clue or was this just a freak coincidence?" thought the filmmaker at the time of his research.

Yes the term "freak" seems quite applicable to your so-called "research."

"I want to emphasize I'm not ashamed of what I put there," he told WND. "I'm not proclaiming he is the antichrist, or that I'm some kind of a Hebrew expert, but the word associations are indisputable. The Hebrew word for lightning is 'Baraq' and the word for heights or high places is 'Bamah.'"

Of course, you're not proclaiming him the Antichrist, this an objective scientific enqury. Yeah, that would explain all the pictures of demons and flaming Satans you photoshopped in.

The movie has a prominent disclaimer stressing the film does not declare "BHO" [Barack Hussein Obama] to be the antichrist, but is merely pointing out the Hebrew words and their "striking" correlations to Jesus' statement.

Except that Jesus' comment didn't say anything about the Heights. Again, Mucho BS.

When WND asked if people should take the video seriously or with a grain of salt, its producer said, "I take the middle road. I don't take it with a grain of salt, but I don't use the Bible like a Ouija board either. It's not like a magical crystal ball. Clear prophecy is one thing. Making word associations is another. Just look at it. I wouldn't take it super serious and say that's the proof we need. It's a little weird."
It's not "weird," you gamed the system. I wouldn't be surprised if this guy started by looking for words that sounded like "Barack Obama" (Bamah and Obama aren't really the same thing, BTW) and then went backwards to find the random text he needed to "connect the dots."

Congratulations, doofus. You are an intellectually dishonest dope. As is WND for giving you press coverage.

Edit: Ye Gods. When you start the movie, the producer says that some viewers found it "enlightening and interesting". Lord help us.

Update: As Ecclesiastes said, "nothing new under the sun." My thanks and appreciation to various non-Jewish bloggers (some are even conservatives) who possess a good share of intellectual honesty and common sense. It is gratifying to know that wingnuts like WND don't dominate within the Christian sphere-- even if they're convinced they do.

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