I have been reading Genes, Giants, Monsters and Men by Joseph P Farrell. While I am sympathetic to many of his speculations, I was taken aback to read him citing 19th century German Assyriologist Friedrich Delitzsch. He is famous as an early proponent of the idea that the Genesis narrative were borrowed from the ancient Babylonians. This was expounded in his 1902 lecture, “Babel and Bible.” Here is the page from Farrell’s book with an illustration from Delitzsch asserting the name Yahweh is found in ancient Sumerian tablets long before the time of Moses.
In truth Delitzsch is known today as a rabid antisemite that helped to fuel the rise of the Third Reich.[ii] His attitude toward the Hebrew Bible is laid bare in this quote from a later book:
The so-called “Old Testament” is entirely dispensable for the Christian church, and thereby also for the Christian family. It would be a great deal better for us to immerse ourselves from time to time in the deep thoughts, which our German intellectual heroes have thought concerning God, eternity, and immortality.[ii]
Delitzsch’s vitriol is characteristic of the prevailing antisemtism in Germany during that era. As to his assertion that the name Yahweh is nothing special, it is no longer seriously entertained by scholars.
Delitzsch (1850-1922) was one of the early pioneers of ancient near eastern scholarship. At that time, there was a new field called Assyriology dealing with the newly discovered cuneiform tablets. Of course knowledge has advanced greatly since that time. Today the language of the Assyians and Babylonians is referred to as Akkadian. Delitzsch was soundly criticized by other German scholars during his day[iv] and as linguistic studies have advanced, scholars dismiss his assertions as extremely doubtful.[v] Most lexicons assert, “No certain etymology of the divine name can be offered.” [vi]
This information is widely available in any good Hebrew lexicon, which begs the question of why Farrell is promoting discredited19th century scholarship with absolutely no criticism offered? I asked Semitics scholar Dr. Michael Heiser for his opinion and he wrote, “No one should be taking Farrell seriously on biblical studies. His field is Patristics. He’s perpetuating outdated and refuted scholarship in a different field – Semitics. Yes, you can quote me.”[vii] ANE languages scholar Dr. Michael Brown handled this question at 1:01:39 in his August 24, 2012 radio show here.
I am still reading the book but this uncritical use of long debunked scholarship sends up red flags.
[i] Joseph P. Farrell, Genes, Giants, Monsters, and Men: The Surviving Elites of the Cosmic War and Their Hidden Agenda (Port Townsend, WA: Feral House, 2011), 21.
[iii] Friedrich Delitzsch, Die Grosse Täuschung (The Great Deception) as quoted in Arnold and Weisberg, “Babel und Bibel und Bias” Bible Review 18:01.
[iv] see: http://www.logosapologia.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/Driver-Studia-Biblica-1885-Tetragrammaton.pdf
[v] Francis Brown, Samuel Rolles Driver, and Charles Augustus Briggs, Enhanced Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, 2000), 218.
[vi] Ernst Jenni and Claus Westermann, Theological Lexicon of the Old Testament (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1997), 522–523.
[vii] Personal email 8/4/2014