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Book Critique of Alexander Hislop’s: THE TWO BABYLONS
In THE TWO BABYLONS bibliography, Alexander Hislop draws on a vast and varied expertise. Much of the bibliographical reference is foreign to this writer, but their pneumatological and mythological subject matter is familiar; Similar references and conclusions can be found in Theodor H. Gaster’s, Myth, Legend, and Tradition in the Old Testament. Hislop wrote in the early 20th century, but his philosophical meandering reflects many beliefs perpetuated in traditional lore.
On the first page, author Hislop lays out a major misrepresentation in attempts to establish Babylon’s identity. He equates the symbolism of Revelation 17:5 “… MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT,…” with the throne of the Papacy and extends the idea to cover Revelation 14:8.
But in the exegesis of this author’s criticism, “BABYLON THE GREAT, Mother of Delusions” cannot be Rome or the Papacy (though the Papacy was every bit as deceitful and degenerate as the Assyrian prototype). Accusative Revelation Babylon is a symbolic substitute for Jerusalem – because the constituency of Jerusalem (or perhaps the authority of the Temple) was accused synonymously with the historical but idolatrous Chaldean Babylon. The biblical reference (Revelation 17:5) refers to a woman in verse:6: a woman, “…drunken with the blood of the saints and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus…” How can the Pope imagine to make war against the adherents of the early first century, when the Pope had not yet been invented! However, the woman did not sit on the Seven Hills (mountains), but sat instead of the Seven Ages. These were inherited traits in proportion to the evils represented as a reflection of Babylon. Immediately, in just a few verses, the Ages (mountains) are described as the Seven Heads on the Beast (Rev. 17:10).
Hislop draws many of his conclusions from mythological expansions too numerous to list, but the main contributors are Saturn (Str) and a mixture of Chaldean, Roman, Greek, and Egyptian myths — as well as drawing on biblical characters. such as Cush, Nimrod, and other designations. From these, he weaves a tale that is very easy to see and that somehow leads to impressions of biblical prophecies. Hislop assumes a connection between mythological nominalism and biblical principles; yet he subscribes to an omnipotent deity and joins modernist futurisms.
How can it be like that? Of course, the Hebrew God had no form or image; the images were forbidden in the prescribed order; therefore, if there is any credibility in the Hebrew concept of Jehovah, we cannot expect the metaphysical idea to receive input from foreign imagery. While idolatrous images were occasionally adopted, her departure from orthodoxy was called adultery or idolatry; meaning: if the Jews violated their husband-wife relationship with God-the tribal nations (strangely, the Sadducean question in Matthew 22:25 embodies this relationship.) The interpretation for the seven dead brothers and one dead woman are wrongly assigned to 2000 years.
Hislop condemns December 25 as inappropriate for the Messiah’s birthday! Ben Winter suggests: If Herod died in 4 BC, after the decree to kill children who met a certain criterion, and during which Joseph, Mary and Jesus fled to Egypt, this exegete cannot find any problem with 25 December (5 BC) as the date of birth for Jesus. The contention that describes December as an unsuitable time to graze sheep in the field is as absurd as any to refute the time frame proposed by tradition. Sheep and other livestock must be grazed in a less sophisticated society during clear weather. How else could they find food? Buy hay at the Feed Store? December 25 may be incorrect, but Hislop and other exegetes have not proved it.
On page 111, Hislop describes the fruit eaten by Eve as morally evil and vile. This idea is far from the only evidence that can testify to the reality of the activity. By ‘receiving the prohibition’, Eve was filled with understanding and was able to distinguish good from evil. Wrong again Mr. Hislop! Eve did not swallow immoral fruit; there was no fruit, only a choice of inclination.
Petitio principii, Hislop names the respective directors in the introduction to Chapter VII; yet he fails to deduce the identity of the Great Red Dragon (Rev. 12) and goes so far as to fit the biblical puzzle with mythological parallels, even inconsistent characterizations of the Bible, and in the end assigns the Dragon to the Poor Pope innocent (innocent only in this example). The Great Red Dragon is entirely symbolic of Babylon, Egypt, the Beast, the Behemoth, the Whore, Israel, and the embodiment of tribal heritage as interpreted in the horns, heads, crowns, mountains, spirits, chariots, carpenters, winds, horses, and miscellaneous. other duties superseded in the symbolism of the ten ages.
The sea, proposed as a literal sea, page 242, was rather a popular sea (Rev. 13:1). The Beast arose as a substitute representation for the rebellious peoples, and the Earth produced a parallel appearance in Revelation 13:11.
Pages 263-265, Section IV, deals with the Image of the Beast. The ancient, mythological and hierophantic reference leads Hislop down the same old path of Catholicism, back to the Madonna (Mary). Further, Hislop equates “the beast that had the wound of the sword and lived” with Semele, and thus with a torturous path to the Virgin Mary. How imaginative! And how untrue! According to Ben Winter’s exegesis, this particular Image of the Beast represents Israel as the Fifth Jewish Age, the Age of the Divided Kingdom; who ordered the Kingdom was wounded almost to death (Jer.30:14; Rev. 13:3, et al).
Page 287 perpetuates the TWO BABYLONS as the ‘wrong beast’; and in his day, Hislop suggested that the time was ripe (1916) for ‘the last days’. Well, he only lost it by about 1,800 years.
Page 287 describes Popery as “Satan’s Masterpiece.” So far, we have found little truth in Hislop’s words. Page 287 shows little variation.
Ben Winter suggests: Satan was a ‘conditioned attitude’ manifested in the Jewish majority, an opposing behavior or affliction. This is her! There is/was no relief animation with bodily entry and exit capabilities. It was only an attitude and had to arise in the intellect of the offending parties, as narcissistic appreciation and harmful adoptions.
We could find 10,000 errors in Mr. Hislop’s exhibition; but this is unnecessary and we do not wish to denigrate his earnest efforts. But, again, we must condemn the misleading apologetics of the source in his Appendix. Even without historical exegesis, we reject the concept that Noah’s grandson is said to have appeared as Menes, the Egyptian King (page 294).
This critic would praise Alexander Hislop for having an extremely rich mythological background. He would not, however, recommend the book as an aid to the interpretation of the Bible, nor as a contribution to soteriological teaching, although one may derive some amusement from the exercise of reading it.
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