It would be really strange if the Old Testament didn’t contain any astrology. For a modern reader to appreciate ancient books, it is necessary to put oneself in an ancient person’s environment. West Asia is very much “big sky” country. Also, without electricity, ancient people had no light pollution obscuring their view of the sky. During the warm season (which is most of the year) it was customary to sleep on the flat roof of the home. The stars were ancient people’s nightly TV before bedtime. Everyone was far more familiar with the patterns of the stars than modern people. And, priests were astrology specialists. So, a collection of religious books, like the Old Testament, should contain star lore.

Also, astrologers were the only compilers of “historical” records in West Asia, before the Greek fashion of history writing arrived in the Hellenistic Period. Astrologers were responsible for keeping the calendar and creating omens, based on astronomical events. Mesopotamian astrologers, called “Chaldeans” kept records of the travels of the planets, eclipses, comets, etc. Ancient myths were also composed as star stories, explaining the concept of “on Earth as it is in Heaven.” The myths alluded to changes in the natural environment with the change of seasons, agricultural activities, and religious rituals performed at different times of the year.

The story of Noah was illustrated by the constellations of The Babylonian Star Chart. The stars near the center of the chart were always visible; but, those around the edges only appeared in their season. The myths were composed following the changes in the appearance of the night sky, with the constellations around the edge of the star chart rising and disappearing with the seasons. Genesis Chapter 6 begins around the autumn equinox with the sacred marriage akitu festival, represented by the sons of God having sex with the daughters of men. The constellation Virgo was visible in the sky during the autumn akitu festival and represented mythical female fertility characters. The giants mention in verse 4 were represented by the giant Wild Boar, underneath Virgo “God” overlooked the season as Enlil, represented by the constellation, Supa, standing above Virgo. God then passes judgment on the Earth by threatening a flood as the Scales represented by Libra rising, as the story moves into the next zodiac sign. Verse 11 notes the Earth as corrupt and full of violence, as represented by Zababa and the scorpion of Scorpio. God then tells Noah to build an ark, represented by the Cargo Boat constellation underneath Pabilsag, now known as Sagittarius. The flood begins at the winter solstice, which was the death of the sun, which was the violent character, Zababa. The death caused by the flood was also represented by the Eagle and Dead Man constellation of winter. The Goatfish (Capricorn) and Aquarius represented Enki, the great god of the Abyss. Noah’s flood was lasted 40 days, because the magic number of Enki was 40. Noah releases a raven that could not find a resting place until the flood dried up. This describes the raven in flight until the rising of Leo, when the Raven lands on the tail of the Leviathan constellation. But, the story remains in the spring. The raven only foreshadows the approaching dryness of summer. The dove released by Noah is found on the long arm of Pisces. The ark lands on a mountain after the flood because the Babylonian cosmos was described with a mountain in the center of the star chart. Noah makes a burnt offering, represented by the Hired Man, or Aries, the ram. God’s covenant with Noah was represented by the Rainbow constellation, above Pisces and Aries.

The story then goes back a bit on the star chart to describe the spring akitu festival. The springtime was loaded with religious rituals and myths often concentrate around Aquarius and Pisces. Notably, all characters have a sleepy time, after encountering Enki of Aquarius at this point in the star chart. Gilgamesh was unable to stay awake, as he was challenged by Utnapushtim, in this region of the stars. Noah, the Utnapushtim of Genesis, gets drunk and falls asleep at this point along the star chart. There are many springtime stories occurring in Aquarius of drunkenness and sex. The oldest story is Inanna getting Enki drunk in Aquarius and stealing his me. As the god of wisdom, Enki’s me was wisdom, including the wise acts of sex. His wisdom included the art of fellatio and prostitution. In Genesis 9:21, Noah’s son, Ham, “saw his nakedness” and received a curse for what he did to the drunken old man. The autumn akitu festival always described heterosexual rituals; but, spring sex was often homosexual, and over time associated specifically with man-boy action.

It is not surprising to discover that the Noah story follows the Babylonian Star Chart because that story has long been understood as deriving from Mesopotamian myths. However, it is clear that the author of Genesis knew that he was telling star stories. It is clear because the stories immediately before and after Noah are in sequence with the rotation of the zodiac and refer to rituals that were unique to Canaanite/Phoenician religion, not Mesopotamian. The stories of Cain killing Abel and the birth of Seth are told just before the flood story. The Cain and Abel story illustrated the summer solstice period and the uniquely Canaanite/Phoenician ritual of child sacrifice. It was associated with the Adonai festival, marked in the stars by the Arrow constellation, appearing prior to the zodiac sign of Cancer. The birth of Seth represented the return of the storm god in the autumn, just before Noah’s story begins with the autumn akitu festival. The tower of Babel story follows after Noah, representing the early summer harvest festival of Shavuot. Canaanites (Phoenicians) and Syrians in particular celebrated the holiday by building “Baal’s house” and setting it on fire. The destruction of the tower of Babel represented the bonfire party.

Once you learn the method of following myths through the stars, you will discover that most of the stories in the Bible are illustrated in the Babylonian Star Chart, including the story of Jesus. I describe several Bible stories and other ancient myths as star stories in my book: Sex Rites: The Origins of Christianity. http://www.amazon.com/Sex-Rites-Christianity-Diana-Agorio/dp/0984610006/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1282793008&sr=8-1

A fully illustrated version of the star chart can be viewed at: http://solaria-publications.com/map_2_full_reconstruction_of_the_babylonian_star-map

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Comment by Diana Agorio on September 15, 2010 at 6:32pm
Ah, Jo. I can see that you have read a few journal articles. LOL. But, after writing the book, I appreciate how much work is involved in putting ideas together and not everyone who works in these fields is a genius. It is easier to build on the tradition than to admit it is a house of cards.
Comment by Jo Jerome on September 15, 2010 at 3:47pm
*Weeping with joy* ... Diana, you explain minimalist vs maximalist views, maximalist givens being driven more by religious tradition than evidence, and accepting a religious text as "True until disproven" versus taking the position of "Highly suspect until proven true" far, far better than I could have.

Goes back to my point (and what is becoming the seeds of my dissertation) that it seems there is a great tendency in research to latch onto the easy hypothesis, or any one hypothesis at all, and accept it as a given instead of a hypothesis because it makes the job easier and less messy. Fact is, there might be several theories that fit and in the absence of more solid evidence, we might never know which theory is the 'right' one.
Comment by Diana Agorio on September 15, 2010 at 10:39am
The prevailing theory about how Berossos wrote his book is that he composed it first in Aramaic and then translated it into Greek. So, his book did not exist long before the Greek translation. The same method could have been used by the Septaguint authors. Sure, they had some collection of books that they used as references, just as Berossos had references. But, those books were not necessarily the Pentateuch.
Comment by Diana Agorio on September 15, 2010 at 9:51am
Matt,
I make no secret that I share the minimalist perspective on the composition of the OT and it is a minority view. However, just because a lot of people believe that the Pentateuch was compiled before the Hellenistic period does not make it true. The driving force behind the theories advocating early composition is religious tradition, not evidence. Remember where the archaeological investigation of the origin of the OT began: looking for evidence of Abraham and Moses. That failed and they moved on to Joshua. Joshua failed and they moved up to Hezekiah and Josiah. But, the archaeological evidence that was used to support their religious reforms has now been re-dated. The destruction of cult sites used to demonstrate Josiah's reforms was actually done by the Assyrians, 70 years earlier. Now, they are up to the Persian period, a time for which there is scant archaeological evidence in Jerusalem. You can see the pattern in the maximalist method of accepting the OT as "true" until disproven. This method flies in face of the most basic rule in archaeology: The rule for dating an archaeological layer is to identify the most recent artifact in the layer. There are lots and lots of "artifacts" in the OT that date to the Hellenistic Period (the several similarities to Berossos is just an example). It is those elements that date the Pentateuch to the Hellenistic period. It is up to the maximalists to prove that the other elements are older, not up to the minimalists to disprove it. And, they have failed to do so.

The minimalists mostly congregate in "The Scandinavian Journal of the Old Testament" (SJOT). But, articles by minimalist scholars do turn up in other journals too. The USA is dominated by maximalist scholars, who favor the view that you are presenting. Can you imagine any reasons why the minimalist view would be more favored in very secular Scandinavia and the maximalist view in the hyper-religious USA? This is not a topic on which scholars are puritanically objective. You also have to keep in mind that professors and teachers are reprimanded and sometimes fired for complaints that they are insensitive to the religious beliefs of students in the USA. There is a systemic repression in our education system of ideas that challenge religious belief. So, even atheist scholars feel pressured to not step on religious toes too much and are steered towards the maximalist view.

As for the star chart, you are making a mountain out of a mole hill. No one is claiming that the Babylonians had such an artistic portrayal of the star chart. White simply used the Dendra Zodiac as the basis for creating a useful chart for modern people studying ancient astrology. His positioning of most of the constellations agrees with really well accepted descriptions of Babylonian constellations by scholars. And, he duly notes the ones that are uncertain. He is not an astrologer; just, his book is being used by astrologers. I most certainly don’t believe in astrology; but, ancient people did and it is very relevant in describing ancient religion. My use of his book is no different than using Bulfinch’s mythology as a reference.
Comment by Matt VDB on September 15, 2010 at 3:34am
Diana,

Yeah the 290 AD thing was a typo and that should have been obvious.
But you missed the point of my post; the point wasn't that the translation of the Septuagint began before 290 BCE; the point was that the fact that it gets translated into Greek means that the Pentateuch existed before 290 BCE. Which is in agreement with just about every theory about Genesis' origin, who all postulate multiple traditions older than the Fourth Century BCE.
So far all you're doing is pointing out the Pentateuch and Berossos agree on some points (which is to be expected if we're talking about oral traditions which were shared at some point); but to make a causal link that Berossos therefore influenced the way the Pentateuch and the Septuagint is a long shot, especially when we have no evidence of Berossos' book being accessible to the translators.

As for the Star Chart, what I was actually getting at is how reliable it is. I've never seen a scholarly reconstruction of it (as far as I know we don't have the proper evidence for that) so I'm wondering whether or not you have.
Comment by Jo Jerome on September 14, 2010 at 7:05pm
Jo,
It is pleasant to find someone else who waxes philosophical about things that so many people never give a second thought.


Well, playing devil's advocate tends to get me beat up on the playground a lot.

In other words: the historian is often more interesting than his history.

Definitely. While the rest of the kids on the playground are oohing and aahing over the king's story of the great battle he won, I'm often one of the ones saying "But don't kings as a rule have a reputation for making things up to make themselves look good? Or to make their enemies look bad? What do we know about this king? Did anyone else write about this battle? Why don't we hear about it from the losing side? What if..." *gets beat up by the other kids*
Comment by Diana Agorio on September 14, 2010 at 5:48pm
Jo,
It is pleasant to find someone else who waxes philosophical about things that so many people never give a second thought. I think it is worth keeping in mind that archaeology is rarely a lucrative profession. It is getting worse, as universities turn more and more to adjunct professors; rather, than providing full time jobs.

You are so right about the filter of the author in regards to oral or written history. I think it is more enlightening to examine the author's "filters" for understanding his time period; rather than searching his history for older information. In other words: the historian is often more interesting than his history.
Comment by Diana Agorio on September 14, 2010 at 5:01pm
LOL, Matt. I just saw that you wrote "290 AD." Nooo. Berossos book dates to 290 BCE, not CE (AD).
Comment by Diana Agorio on September 14, 2010 at 3:34pm
Matt,
The Septaguint most likely began to be compiled during the reign of Ptolemy II, who reigned from 283-246 BCE. (I will use wikipedia only because it is easy for you: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Septaguint ) You will note that it post dates Berossos. It was not all written down in one shot; but, composed over time, completed about 132 BCE. No one denies that many of the stories in the OT were very old. However, there is a very strong difference of opinion amongst scholars about how much those stories were changed during the Hellenistic period. It is far from a settled issue. And, there is simply no evidence of the books before the Hellenistic Period.

As for the Star Chart, that has nothing to do with Berossos. I use it because it is a nicely illustrated star chart and easy for people to find on the internet. As for the author being some new ager; well, most of my sources for my book about religion are theological journals, etc. Religious people are really difficult to avoid in this field.
Comment by Matt VDB on September 14, 2010 at 3:25am
"Matt VDB - That is a question you need to ask the people who claim that it was written in the 5th century BCE. What is their evidence?"

So your position is that Genesis was written after 290 AD? That is simply not true. By that time the Pentateuch was already being translated into Greek, and most of the traditions and legends recorded in Genesis are consisted with respectively the Babylonian exile and earlier periods (the Jahwist tradition being the earliest). So the idea that Berossos had anything to do with this process simply doesn't hold up.
It's much more likely that Berossos, like most 'historians' of the time, is writing down myths and legends that were already circulating in various holy books.

Besides, how is that Babylonian chart reliable in any way? It's pure speculation to simply go off the Babylonian evidence first and then fill in the blanks with any other source you can find. I know this is typical of the New-Age 'scholarship' on that site, but the mystery is why you're seriously using this as research material...

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