p.2 God, the universe and our world according to Michael Heisers ‘Unseen Realm’ view
Scripture ALONE or Scripture plus...
As we begin learning Scripture and its doctrines correctly we lay a truth foundation to build on. But what happens when one comes along and challenges what the foundation actually is and convinces you to remove yourself from it; the building eventually topples. And that is what I see Heiser doing to many whose ears have become attuned to his teaching.
He compares the Bible to other Mid-East cultures pagan (mythical) literature, looking at the text of the Bible through the lens of unbiblical works that were never accepted by the Church. He claims to bring out what the true view or meaning of the ancient Hebrews are (as if the Bible itself does not do this). That this will correct the beliefs of Christians of today whose doctrine is not aligned with the ‘ancients.’ But, it is actually his doctrine and hermeneutic principle of interpretation that is not correct.
Heiser claims the Hebrews copied the Ugarit, however renowned Archeologist, W.F. Albright wrote on the Ugarit stated,
“we now know that the Canaanites of about 1400 B. C. also employed Accadian cuneiform,
the Ugaritic cuneiform alphabet, and Egyptian hieroglyphics in order to write. We can hardly, therefore, be surprised to find archaeological discoveries confirming Israelite tradition almost always, as far as they go.
“Thus the Egyptian scribes invariably reproduce Egyptian phonetic habits and idioms, the Canaanite scribes always show that they are translating their ideas from Hebrew into Accadian, the Hittite and Hurrian scribes reflect Hittite and Hurrian linguistic practice.’
That is the opposite of what Heiser claims. He believes there is equivalence in the writings, not just in writing structure; but in revelation. He constantly slides the Ugarit into the Scripture.
Our approach to God’s Word will either be from liberal or conservative hermeneutics (there can be extremes on either side).
Let me define these terms used today. A conservative view holds basically to a literal interpretation to the Word of God to determine its intentional the meaning of what the writers meant. That is our pursuit in understanding Scripture. The conservative view opposes using allegorical, symbolic, or hidden meanings, or other outside revelation[s] to reinterpret the literal reading of the Word as the primary revelation from God. Are there passages that are symbolic, allegorical, yes of course, but they will always have the intent of coinciding with the plain literal conclusion, elucidating it. And they will agree with the other doctrines contained in the Bible.
We are to believe all that is needed has been revealed to us in the Bible (2 Tim.3:16) and allow the Holy Spirit to teach us the Word to arrive at the correct conclusions. We study to show ourselves approved, rightly dividing the Word (2 Tim 2:15). Study what? The Bible and what pertains to its words, such as using a concordance or Bible dictionary.
A liberal does not necessarily hold to divine revelation and introduces other ways the Bible was written and to be interpreted, they have far less guidelines in how they arrive at their interpretation or conclusion. They will ignore the immediate context and the weight of supportive Scripture and adapt the Scripture to fit their own thinking, (not adapt their thinking to fit the Scripture in its plain primary consistent meaning.) That is what I see Heiser often.
Being subjective they try to look objective, and redefine Christian doctrine. We are not speaking of the person’s worldview but their approach to Scripture to form that view.
For an obvious example the Bible says there is only one true God, that all others are God. Mr. Heiser says God created many true gods before the creation of the heavens and the earth and that these gods fell individually and became false (as he states this happened throughout history (after the flood). That is not a conservative biblical approach; but liberal.
Using a liberal approach to the Bible there are numerous ways one may interpret God’s Word and arrive at different conclusions than those the scholars over the centuries have. A conservative approach, a biblical hermeneutic that seeks to find the one way that God intended us to understand His Word written through the chosen author. Heiser claims he seeks to do this, finding the Jewish way of thinking when it was written. But it’s impossible to do this when you go to outside myths and use liberal writers who do not understand or believe the Scripture as God given. Or by presenting the Ugarit writings as being equivalent to the Hebrew Bible and use them to interpret Scripture.
Heiser often focuses on single Hebrew words to make his points of doctrine. Certainly one can dissect words to their umpteenth degree, using a single word to define the meaning of a thought expressed in a sentence will not always have you understand the actual meaning. God communicated his thoughts in coherent sentences. We read by sentences, not by single words.
An example: would be to say that the ancient nations have the same God as the God of the Bible, just different names, ignoring the substance the Gods of these nation taught what is different from Israel’s God. (using el, or elohim). Certain points he finds of similarity are not proving sameness. For example; fruit comes from trees. If I pick an apple from a tree and I pick an orange from another tree does this mean the trees are the same tree because they produce fruit? Of course not, they are different trees that produce different fruit. Details matter when seeking spiritual truth.
Thousands of years have passed with those who have devoted their lives studying Gods Word. Serious scholars who spoke the biblical languages and devoted their time to learn and understand the Scriptures because they held them to be the truth. Along comes Heiser’s novel interpretations which are based on pagan religious mythical worldviews. He profusely quotes men who are academic philosopher’s who use these writings to reinterpret the Scripture, and people are awed by this man’s knowledge! Heiser’s approach is like a philosopher, not a theologian. He constantly uses other so called scholars to affirm his beliefs introducing other religions revelations to reinterpret what we have already known as truth.
I have come across this type of scholarship before, where one finds all the people to support their idea by blending paganism mythology and use their references as support.
What I’m finding is that many of the authors he uses in his quotes are ignorant of the Bible and are unbelievers, they do not believe in divine revelation and are even antagonists. (see this article)
My observation on this, the church is going down to the basement floor fast, you should be ashamed of yourselves, all who give any credence to the least of his ideas he has introduced (Logos Bible included). There is far, far more to disagree with than to agree with.
In fact he makes it very difficult to agree with his interpretations because of his main theme of Ps.82 discoloring sound doctrinal interpretation as he tries to fit it in everywhere as the theme of Scripture. Heiser refers to Ps 82 to confirm his view of Deut. 32 as being sons of Elohim over the nations, not the boundaries of the nations it is referring to in relation to the children of Israel.
Heiser’s interpretations are ambiguous theories of Scripture strung together to make a cohesive story. But there are just as may holes as there are connections. This is because he does not believe in received ‘divine revelation’ from God to Moses. He uses pagan myths to reinterpret the Old Testament.
Richard Foster (who introduced eastern type meditation and new age concepts to the church using Christian terminology) has some similarities. He said in his Renovare’ Bible.
“Genesis began as an oral tradition of narrative stories passed down from generation to generation….These stories [gradually] took on theological meaning….Over time [they] were written down and collected together (Gen 12-50), and a prologue (Gen 1-11) was added…. Borrowing from other creation accounts…stories with parallels to ancient Near Eastern religious narrative and mythology were reshaped with monotheistic intent ….These strands of varied materials were gathered and edited into the written text …. (Richard J. Foster, ed., The Renovaré Spiritual Formation Bible (Harper San Francisco, 2005), p.13-14.
In a like manner Heiser says, Israel took the pagans myth writings and used them as being inspired for their God. Heiser denies the verbal plenary inspiration of the Bible while embracing pagan writings as primary, written first and having influence over Israel’s writings. He denies the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch which also questions Joshua’s authorship of his book; He then advances the dating of these writings.
A spiritual problem becomes apparent as his interpretations of history are not shared with everyone, in fact real Bible scholars who know the Bible disagree. Heiser is taking the worst of paganism and like the mind melt of a Vulcan on star trek he convinces people how accurate he is on this (stating, ahem; I’m an academic).
On being a Hebrew, Heiser writes: “The first mention of a Hebrew is in Genesis 14:13 where Abraham is identified as a "Hebrew" (Eevriy in Hebrew). In Exodus 2:6 Moses is identified as one of the "Hebrews" (Eevriym in Hebrew) and throughout the Hebrew Bible the children of Israel are often identified as "Hebrews." A "Hebrew" is anyone who is descended from "Eber" (Ever in Hebrew), an ancestor of Abraham and Moses (See Genesis 10:24).
No this is not what makes one a Hebrew. If Abraham alone has to do with being a Hebrew, Arabs who are descended from Abraham are Hebrews. A Hebrew is descended from Abraham, Isaac AND Jacob (whose name was changed to Israel). This whom God says he is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of Israel.
(ebeir) ‘Hebrew’ means to cross over from the other side. The first time we see this mentioned is to Abram (Gen. 14:13). Abraham is a Hebrew, the father of the nation of Israel. (Exod. 6:2-3) the nation of Israel came through this lineage. The term “Hebrew” originated with Eber (great-grandson of Shem, who was the son of Noah), and through most of biblical history the term was used when Jews identified themselves to Gentiles, as Jonah did (1:9).
Heiser’s explanation lacks specificity.
He also states the “law as though every one of its 663 commands. ”(Chapt. 21 God’s Law, God’s Council, Unseen Realm) Moses returned from the mountain with 613 commands (10 written by God on tablets), 603 were spoken orally after the ten were written; (not 663 commands) then they were all written down. Heiser says there are “663 commands,” which no one can agree to.
Where is all his information on this coming from - not the Bible.
Heiser claiming that Genesis was not written by Moses but was basically done 600 AD is flat out ridiculous. but that's what liberals believe.
3. Moses or someone soon after Moses’ death recorded events in Moses’ life and leadership period, from the exodus, to Sinai, and through the wilderness. I think the law and Sinai episodes were recorded, along with narration of events as the Israelites traveled. Who knows how much? https://drmsh.com/mosaic-authorship-torah-problems-documentary-hypothesis-jedp-part-3/
If Genesis is put to paper 800 years after Exodus and Deuteronomy how do we expect any accuracy in the Bible. So where does he get this information from?
El of the Ugarit is el of the Hebrew
Unger’s Dictionary -The Ras Shamra literature speaks of Canaan as the “land of El,” where this deity was absolute in authority over lesser gods. El rapidly declined, however, and was largely supplanted by the worship of Baal, who was equally demoralizing. The Heb. name of God, El, has, of course, no connection with paganism, but is a simple generic term. (M.F.U. BIBLIOGRAPHY: M. H. Pope, El in the Ugaritic Texts (1955); F. M. Cross, Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament, ed. G. J. Botterweck and H. Ringgren (1977), 1:242–60.)
This is not Heiser's view as he uses el as a proper name of God used in the Ugarit. Those who believe Heiser’s view are taken for a ride into his synthesizing religions, making Judaism a hybrid of their pagan neighbors, who are really their enemy and Gods enemy.
"I don’t think this patriarchal document was written by two writers with competing agendas. I think the patriarchal oral history had “El language” for God since that was the name of God prior to the exodus event" https://drmsh.com/mosaic-authorship-torah-problems-documentary-hypothesis-jedp-part-3/
He is in accurate he was known as YHWH elohim (even in Genesis), the I AM.
Michael Heiser is not the first to do this conglomeration of truth and myths. We found that when Daniel Kikawa “gleaned” his quotes he often took the weakest theoretical explanations from certain anthropologists and used conjecture to prove his point. This changed the meanings of many of the author’s writings he quoted, inserting what he wanted it to say because of his own predilections.
On p.54 of Perpetuated in Righteousness (4th ed.) Kikawa states, “ We will be using the most accurate legends available.” Though he states the Bible is his measuring stick of accuracy, he also says “ At times, we will use parts of more corrupted versions that contain some important truth .” Unfortunately Kikawa did not distinguish the two when they are used. Notice the word “legends”, these are stories that can be interpreted in various ways. Can any corrupted version actually communicate truth? And we are implicitly warned about believing in these legends (myths) for the last days (2 Tim.4:4)
What Sandy Simpson and I wrote in “Eternity in their Hearts” can just as easily be said of Heiser. Salvaging corrupted stories and myths they try to make these religions and cultures significant like the Scripture. Heiser’s angle is clearly seen by him saying that the Jews copied the Ugarit in places.
Don Richardson taught “redemptive analogies” in cultures stories. Most cultures were pagan, polytheistic and animistic. The problem is that one can find some kind of Bible story that is corrupted by another culture’s redefinition nearly everywhere in the world. It is like looking for a whole book but only finding scraps of paper spread out on the ground in different nations and trying to piece them together as a puzzle when it has already been put together in “The Book,” called the Bible, the book of truth.
Some people see Heiser as a conservative academic, when he quotes profusely from liberals, something conservatives do not do for their Bible interpretation. One may rightly ask is Heiser a liberal scholar inside the Church? Again, did God make the universe and all things in it after he made other gods (sounds like both Mormonism and the Urantia book). Heiser calls them a pantheon, (like the Greeks had in Paul’s day). This is not the scriptures story but a synthesized retelling that uses Bible words blurring the concepts by a mythical influence.
Heiser has no parameters on what books he uses whether they are biblical books accepted or non logumena books (unaccepted) such as :Book of Jubilees”; “1 Enoch”; “Testament of Abraham, Recensions A and B”; “Testament of Job”; “Joseph and Aseneth”; “Pseudo-Phocylides”; “Testaments of the Twleve Patriarchs”; “Eupolemus”; “Pseudo-Eupolemus”; “Fragments of Pseudo-Greek Poets”; “Hellenistic Synagogal Prayers”; “Letter of Aristeas”; “Life of Adam and Eve”; “Martyrdom and Ascension of Isaiah”; “Sibylline Oracles”; “2 Baruch”; “3 Baruch”; “4 Baruch”; “Apocalypse of Daniel”; they are all used to form his theory as he picks and chooses what he seems is right from each one.
Using non canonical to prove his points only confuse people. As an example He writes of Jesus as the second power relating it to the Old Testament from the 2nd temple period but also says
“Perhaps surprisingly, another of the archangels, Raphael, was also considered to be the second power in heaven of exalted status. Despite the fact that he is “one of the seven archangels who stand before the Glory of the Lord” (Tobit 12:12, 15), Raphael is specifically called the “angel of the Lord” in Tob 12:22. Tob 11:14-15 also reveals that Raphael may have been considered by the writer as possessing the divine Name (reading with Codex Sinaiticus)” (THE DIVINE COUNCIL IN LATE CANONICAL AND NON-CANONICAL SECOND TEMPLE JEWISH LITERATURE)
Is this true? Uriel and Raphael, Phanuel are mentioned in his companion book to Enoch. He uses all these books to further illustrate bible doctrine. Books that were not accepted at the time, seen as fakes forgeries and counterfeits should not be used to teach Scripture.
The second temple period was the time of Pharasaic Judaism, where they removed the people from the Word to follow their word, traditions of the elders. They then came against Jesus who expressed the truth from Moses and expanded on the true meanings.
Heiser ignores this all encompassing fact that the Scribes (sophreim), the Pharisees added hundreds of unbiblical laws to interpret the Law of Moses (the tradition of the elders) starting 400 hundred years before Jesus. The temple at this time period were under the saducees who rejected the supernatural , angels and demons (no afterlife) Heiser portrays the second temple period adjustments as beneficial, they were not. In some ways he is repeating their mistakes.
Heiser is now reviving the influence of pagan myths, and non canonical books and using syncretism to interpret the Scripture. Heiser even says the bible quotes the Ugarit in the Old Testament, why say this unless you want people to believe the revelation of the Ugarit is from God and equal to the bible in these places. Or, that none of them are divine revelation.
People feel like they're receiving something that they are not receiving from Gods Word itself, this is caused by their own lack of accepting and understanding God's Word as his only revelation. They feel they are getting special truths that are not available to them until Heiser himself has revealed it to them. Notwithstanding, Heiser is getting these so-called historical/informational truths from pagan sources with his numerous speculative books combined with his own speculations. That should be all one needs to know to stay clear of what he is teaching.