Lloyd M. Graham's "Deceptions and Myths of the Bible": A Critique

This essay, for me, is a walk down memory lane. It is a profile of the first anti-Biblical book I rebutted as a Christian, some 20 years ago. You might say it was the second book that set my course. (The first, obviously, being the Scriptures themselves.)

The book is Deceptions and Myths of the Bible (Citadel Press, 1975), and it is partly standard "pagan theft" thesis, partly New Age material, partly conspiracy theory. It is filled with incomprehensible diagrams, polemic, and what can only be charitably be called semantic evasions; it was a regular feature in catalogs sent to me (as a librarian) by Barnes and Noble, suggesting that it still sells well.

The author is styled "Lloyd M. Graham", and we aren't told a thing about him; there is no bibliography to speak of, and little offered in the way of proof for what is asserted throughout. To this day, no one knows who Graham is, but his writing style and his ideas sound suspiciously like Alvin Boyd Kuhn.

Whoever he is, Graham starts his book with a thesis which would make even my ideological foes at infidels.org turn pale, namely, that all planets were once suns, and that our sun will someday burn out and become a planet. And further, that the Bible is just a collection of allegorical retellings of this thesis. Adam, Noah, the paschal lamb, Pharaoh-Necho, Jonah's gourd, Elisha's bald head, Jesus' tomb, Abraham's father Terah...all of these are actually symbolic of the Earth.

The latter is "proven" by noting that "Terah" sounds like the Latin terra, which means "earth". The burning bush in Exodus is "the earth in its postsolar convulsions." [174] The priestly garments of the Levites have a hidden sexual symbolism. Tarshish (1 Kings 10:22) is really Tartarus, "the underworld of matter." [227] The virgin Mary is symbolically equivalent to Jonah's whale. [298]

All of this Ancient Wisdom, we are told, has been edited out of the Bible by "power-seeking priests" [6] who couldn't bear the truth. We're also told that the earth is older than the sun, and that the moon once had life...yes, all of this is found in the "Ancient Wisdom".

Now about an example of sematnic evasion. The older KJV versions of Genesis 3:1 read:

Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made.

Of this, Graham says [61]"...is not the word for this subtle?" The old English spelling here affords him this explanation:

Subtil is from the Latin subtilus -- sub, beneath, and tela, web; and from tela we get texo, to weave, and textile, fabric. This is the real meaning of Satan's 'subtil' nature. In Evolution he refines the coarse, material earth and weaves it into etheric, astral and mental matter...

The Hebrew of Genesis 3:1, of course, refutes this quite handily (the word is 'aruwm) Not that Graham thinks it matters: In a later explanation of similar nature, he states that his explanation is true "regardless of etymology". [190] Apparently the "Ancient Wisdom" renders lexicons and dictionaries irrelevent.

All of this sort of thing is supplemented by ideas that not even the most Skeptical Biblical scholar would take seriously: Dating the Gospels at 170-185 AD; the Essenes are the same as the Christians; Jesus never existed as a person (Arthur Drews cited as chief authority on this); and Graves' 16 Crucified Saviors.

Graham keeps this going by assuming a tone throughout his book to the effect of, "If you were as smart as I am, you'd know all of this already." The current state of affairs, according to Graham, is entirely the fault of a conspiratorial cover-up by the priestly power structure, aided and abetted today by the legions of "Christendumb" (his own word).

Why do people read and believe such books or give any part of it credence? We can blame our current state of education for some of this malfeasance (after all, how can you not blame a system that turns out college graduates that can't make change without electronic help from a cash register?), but the problem is too pervasive for the background cause to be simple ignorance. Such a state of affairs is perpetuated only when people want to remain ignorant, and that comes of a weakness of will, not of a weakness of the intellect.

That's all that needs to be said. But if by chance you think Graham is worth defending -- I'd like to know why. Please start by answering for his use of "subtil" as above.