'The Yahweh Encounters'
Subtitled "Bible Astronauts, Ark Radiations and Temple Electronics"
By Ann Madden Jones
Sandbird Publishing Co, 1995
There are likely to be two paths that lead you to this book. You might be interested in ancient astronauts and want to look more thoroughly at the many passages in the Bible that may describe them and their flying machines. Or you might be a Christian who's looking for an alternative interpretation of the many puzzling descriptions of phantasmagoria in the Bible. I'm in the former category, and the book is aimed more at the latter.
Essentially, The Yahweh Encounters aims to ask the question - can much of the Bible be better understood if the supernatural beings and events described within it are actually flesh and blood visitors from another world? Is Yahweh, the God of the Old Testament, actually the leader of an alien group heavily involved in the affairs of the Jewish people? Do the visions of Elijah, Ezekiel, Isaiah and Daniel more accurately describe technological wonders seen from the viewpoint of Bronze Age men? Did that technology become an integral part of the religious iconography of Jewish lore? Was Jesus a saviour whose origins lie in space, rather than in heaven?
These are heady questions, and this is a very serious attempt to answer them. With almost theological attention to detail, Ann Madden Jones has worked her way through the entire Bible, pulling out various passages which are more easily understood in the context of the use of high technology. It's her meticulous attention to detail that makes this book stand out. Although it is certainly not an easy read, for me it will become an essential reference work. Because it is laid out roughly in the same order as the Bible, finding source material within it is easy, and I have made a note of many, many pages for future reference. She also cross-references different encounters within her commentary, pulling together similar incidents for comparison. All very useful.
However, I can't say that I found it particularly enjoyable to read. It seems odd to me that a book devoted to explaining many of the Bible events in non-spiritual terms should have such a problem with modern rationalism. The author is still very much wedded to the thinking of the Church, even if she has a very alternative viewpoint regarding the source material making up the Bible. This is particularly true when she covered the New Testament, when the tone of the book becomes almost evangelical. I took exception to the fundamentalist doctrine that atheists are at one with the Anti-Christ:
"The apostle John referred, 1900 years ago, to an anti-Christ to come, and to anti-Christs already operating in his time. He defined it as anyone who denied the Father and the Son or as anyone who did not confess Jesus had come in the flesh. Today we call them atheists." (p295)
Just so you don't think I'm misinterpreting things, the author makes her feelings more plain later on:
"The world at the time of the end will be led by anti-Christian rulers and internationalists who mock religious faith and turn their attention to controlling the world's masses through control of economics, creating the mark of the beast system, and by atheistic intellectuals and clergy with reprobate minds, professing evil doctrines, convincing the world to believe in "fables" and "delusions". Together they will hold sway over national military or elected political leaders. Lewd and deviant life-styles will be common, self-lovers, homosexuals, thinkers with reprobate minds will lead those who "riot in the daytime"..." etc etc (p303-4)
Frankly, I find this kind of thinking deeply offensive. It may be that many others see eye-to-eye with the mentality here. As I said at the opening of this review, it depends upon your starting point.
The author has gone massively off-road in her book, some of which I agree with, but at the end seems to come back to the Christian fold in a big way. She is convinced of a coming Apocalypse, and the return of Christ (in a big spaceship?) to pick up the faithful and transport them to heaven (on an alien world?) It's something that Christians have been ardently waiting for for nearly 2000 years, and is, perhaps, the underlying cultural reason why the idea of an imminently returning planet Nibiru gains so much credibility.
Nevertheless, perhaps there is some truth to the concept that Jesus was somehow tied in with the Anunnaki, and his ascension to heaven, like Enoch and Elijah, was a physical removal of an important prophet to a location beyond the sky. But one needs to bear in mind that 'Apocalypse' is not a word in the lexicons of ancient Mesopotamian cultures, like Sumer. The return of Nibiru (and Jesus?) need not bring calamity to the rest of us sinners at all. And if Nibiru came during the time of Christ (the Star of Bethlehem) then we have some time to wait yet.
But I'm getting side-tracked. "The Yahweh Encounters" reads like a highly alternative Bible Study. As I read the book I considered the analogy of Sunday School on Acid. But on reflection I think that's unfair - the work is too studious for such a flippant joke. It is scholarly, and earnest, and deserving of consideration by readers of the Bible who want to explore other possibilities in a serious manner. The book also covers many Apocryphal texts, which is particularly useful when looking at the stories about Enoch.
There's plenty here for those interested in the work of von Daniken and Sitchin too, both of whom the author acknowledges. Although the idea of ancient astronauts is not new, many aspects of this book are highly original. For instance, Ann Madden Jones describes in great detail how the architecture of Tabernacle and Solomon's Temple lent themselves to being receivers for electronic transmissions. The materials described, although primitive, could have been wired up in such a way to create power sources. Like the denizens of Lost, the Jewish people may have been able to construct technologically proficient devices using materials readily available to them, under the guidance of Yahweh. So the voice of God, and the phantasmagoria associated with it, might just have been a physical manifestation of a transmission from Yahweh - and his 'angels' located in orbit - produced by the paraphernalia set up in and on these rather odd temples. The author goes into tremendous detail about how this might have been accomplished - you almost need a degree in electrical engineering to fully appreciate the technicalities involved.
Speaking of the angels - the author points out something very interesting about these 'Watchers'. They were feared by the ancient peoples - more so, perhaps, because it was not always obvious when you were in the presence of one:
"The angel who talked with Samson's parents also did not eat food, but ascended in a flame. Only then did Manoah, like Gideon, realize he had been face to face with an angel. These and other verses give us reason to think the Biblical people had heard of or seen enough angels to be afraid of them, but not enough to always recognise one until it did something unusual." (p185)
If the angels, or Watchers, were the Anunnaki of Sumerian 'myth', then this is a very helpful point. It is obvious that common folk would be frightened of 'gods' appearing in the midst. Less obvious, but just as important, is that these 'angels' look so much like regular people. They're not ten feet tall, but human in size. We are made in their image, literally.
This is a very scholarly work, and full of fascinating - and from the point of view of someone who has never been exposed to the ancient astronaut mentality - potentially mind-blowing insights. A work as controversial as this cannot stand beyond criticism, and I think that much of it is more readily explained in more prosaic ways. But some of these solutions seem sensible given the quixotic nature of the Biblical passages covered, and there is very often merit to the author's case. She extrapolates this interpretation to Biblical prophecies yet to occur. If she is right, then Yahweh and his cohort of angels will one day return with a vengeance.
Book review by Andy Lloyd, 20th August 2010, with thanks to Mark
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