Pose for the paparazzi. Autograph your books.
Write like a dream, promote like a rock star.
Fame and fortune are yours!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

New book: Old Testament patriarchs had a direct line to God

What if you could talk to God via a special cell phone, walkie talkie, or land line? What if you could dial 911 for emergency assistance or 411 for information and guidance and actually get the Creator of all the universes on the line?

David had just such a direct connection to God in the Old Testament. In 1 Samuel 23:9-12, David learns that King Saul wants to kill him, and he doesn't know what to do. So he tells his priest to go get the ephod. David then proceeds to have a conversation with God via the ephod!

Is it a stretch to note that phone and ephod both contain ph?

As a little girl, I learned that the only way to talk to God was to get down on your knees, fold your hands, and get to praying. We were never ever taught about this ephod device that enabled David (and others) to talk directly to God. When I first read this passage in the Bible, I was blown away. In fact, I had to put the Book down. Were we to take it literally? Metaphysically?

Well, Roger Isaacs, author of a new book, Talking With God: The Radioactive Ark of the Testimony. Communication Through It. Protection From It., believes we should take the story literally. Isaacs comes not from a fundamentalist approach but an emerging revisionist approach to scripture that looks at the events, history, and artifacts of the Bible from modern multidisciplinary scientific perspectives.

Talking With God is an etymological investigation into the purpose and rituals surrounding an ancient communications system that included the ephod, the Ark of the Testimony (a.k.a. Ark of the Covenant), and other devices. While some high profile investigators have tried to actually locate the Ark, Isaacs has taken a radically different approach to trying to understand this mysterious artifact. 

The words in the Hebrew Bible are trying to convey instructions relative to the care and feeding of a unique communication system. My goal in this book has been to bring clarity to those puzzling ancient Hebrew words and ideas not previously understood by studying the ark within a totally new, technological context.

Now in the interest of full disclosure I must state that my sister, Janice Miller, published and edited Talking With God through her company, The Publishing Institute (Sacred Closet Books imprint). A couple of summers ago, she asked me to consult editorially on the project.

Talking With God was one of the most difficult, frustrating, complicated, and rewarding books I've ever been honored to work on.

I'm so proud of my baby sister (sniff). It took her 10 years of dogged determination (not to mention Isaac's 30 years) to complete this magnificent study. (My mother, the retired high school English teacher, proofed the book.) Talking With God is 514 pages, hard cover, and is so thoroughly grounded in scholarship that the endnotes, bibliography, index, and appendices could have been a book.

An Amazon.com review reads:

I think the author has done a wonderful job with Talking with God. First of all, it is very well-written: accessible, easygoing, and able to make a complicated subject easy to follow. Jargon and obfuscation have practically become the hallmarks of the academic literature of the present era, and I can't tell you how pleased I was to see such simple, clear writing.

There are no more beautiful words for an editor than those highlighted in red. That's when you know you've done your job right.

I asked Roger Isaacs to share his thoughts on his provocative book and the collaborative writing process. Here's what he had to say.

THE CELEBRITY EDITOR: Your book revolutionizes our thinking about how the Old Testament patriarchs actually talked to God. If these ancient technological devices were truly used, does that mean we've been deluding ourselves with the spiritual belief that we can talk to God via traditional prayer and meditation?

ROGER D. ISAACS: It’s interesting that the word translated prayed or pray (pawlal) is found twice in Genesis and twice in Numbers in all of the Four Books. It is found twice in the fifth book, Deuteronomy, and that book was produced much later. It is not found at all in Exodus and Leviticus, books much more important to my thesis. Pawlal involved Abraham and Abimelech, king of Gerer in one story and Moses and the rebelling Israelites in another. But it is generally acknowledged that the actual meaning of pawlal is to intercede, not to pray in the traditionally accepted form. (To be exact, pray is used in one of the two times in the accepted way in the Abraham/Abimelech story, but that was in a dream by the king.

On the other hand, pawlal as prayer is used as such many times in the following books.

This indicates to me that prayer as we know it was not used in the part of the Bible involved primarily with the Ark and the Ephod but that, when the use of the devices faded away, the people did much as we do today to try to reach God.

As to your specific question, while I have no way of knowing whether prayer is efficacious in reaching God, there certainly would be no problem with doing so.  The problem would lie in God’s communicating with us. That is, if it is true that the ark was reached through the dangerous radioactive cloud, if suddenly He were to do so today, it would be lethal to us unless we were properly protected. I have given many examples of the Bible’s clearly stating the necessity for the Israelites to be so protected under these circumstances.

But as to the results of our praying today, until there can be a controlled experiment that proves there is a definite cause/effect, I’m afraid the true answer will have to be left in limbo.

EDITOR: As a scholar, were you ever concerned about how the public would receive your ideas? The impact on faith?

RDI: First and foremost I am interested in truth. I know my ideas will be controversial, and that’s just fine. But for that controversy to be substantive it has to rest on debate surrounding facts. This work doesn’t in any way argue one’s faith. One’s faith, or lack of it, is very subjective. What I have done is to attempt to clarify a subject that may or may not impact on one’s faith depending on how receptive, open-minded, the reader is.  

Personally, I think a person’s beliefs should be based on facts, not fancies. An example would be attitudes toward evolution. It is hard, scientific fact, easily proved, that evolution exists. To deny this is pure fancy and does not in any way strengthen faith, it only obfuscates it.

To summarize: When faith and fact merge, the result is a strong partnership.  When they diverge, the result is confusion.

EDITOR: In the book you mention that your father, a hematologist and researcher, launched your study. From the discussions with your father to the publishing of your book, how many years did the journey take? How did your father's ideas evolve, and how did you fine tune them?

RDI: In the early 1950’s my father was deeply involved with his hematological research at a leading Chicago medical center, as well as his practice. At the same time my late partner and I were rapidly expanding our young public relations company, and my wife and I were building a family. It was during this period that my father, a true scientist and biblical scholar, and I began to have conversations about a thought he had concerning the possibility that the Ark of the Testimony (also called the Ark of the Covenant) could have been an electrical apparatus that was used to communicate with God. Then, in spite of our heavy schedules, we began to plumb the Bible for any evidence to substantiate this thought.

The first result was an unpublished article on the topic in the mid 1950’s. Then we wrote a 24 page monograph published by Bloch Publishing Company in 1965. It was titled Puzzling Biblical Laws Interpreted in Terms of ModernPhysics. In that same year my father died.

After a time I began thinking of the theory behind the monograph, and realized that there were more possibilities to be considered. My thought was to work in my spare time for a year or so and get them on paper. It turned out it would take more than 40 years until the book was published.

The reason for all those years (other than having the daily work of running a company) was that it had become apparent that, while the general approach we were taking was a start, it left great gaps in what the Bible was trying to convey about the Ark and its “care and feeding.” That’s when I started my research in earnest. The result took me into other paths that we hadn’t followed before, and the final result was different in many ways from our original thinking.  So while the seed was planted, the tree (of knowledge?) that grew from it was something I never expected. I’m only sorry that my father didn’t live to see the tree as it looks today.

Donna Marie


No comments:

Post a Comment