Wednesday, July 29, 2009

'Hazardous Materials' - First Impressions

I have received and begun to read Gail Riplinger's Hazardous Materials (see previous post). The first impression is that this is a big book - over 1000 pages. Opening it at random, I found page 845, and was instantly confronted with an egregious historical error about the Knights Templar. Turning back to the beginning of the section, I was amazed to find that Gail Riplinger actually believes The Da Vinci Code (better called the Da Vinci Codswallop) to be of some merit in its historical statements! Thus, on the basis of a work which contains no historical fact worth mentioning, we are told that, "The temples erected by the Knights were used for bizarre rituals of a Satanic nature" (P. 843). Not that she uses The Da Vinci Code as her only source. She also quotes Templar fantasists Laurence Gardener, Eliphas Levi, , Knbight and Lomas, and of course the work of Leigh and Baigent, as if these men had anything useful to say about the Templars. A leading British Historian has described Leigh and Baigent (and by extension all who hold their views) as "Fabulists", and this verdict is true! Missing are references to any credible work on the Templars, such as Helen Nicholson's The Knights Templar (Stroud, Sutton, 2001), Piers Paul Read, The Templars (London, Phoenix, 2003), Malcolm Barber, The New Knighthood (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1994), and Michael Haag, The Templars: History and Myth (London, Profile, 2008). Each of these books exposes the fantasies of the works cited by Riplinger, and shows that the idea of the Templars as occultists is simply the product of over-active imaginations.

First of all, the charges against the Templars were not believed outside of France, and the Templars outside of France did not confess to the same charges that the French Templars did. Secondly, the Templars in France only confessed after hours, maybe days, of severe torture. Third, the Pope himself did not believe the accusations made by the King of France, accusations made, as all reputable historians now seem to agree, with the aim of seizing the assets of the Templars, who functioned as international bankers. 

As for the fantasies Riplinger retails, Read tells us that they are only the products of 18th-century imagination. The 'Masonic history' that Riplinger also quotes is pure fantasy. He quotes Peter Partner:
"The transformation of ideas about the Templars during the eighteenth century shows how far from stern scientific rationalism the men of the Enlightenment could wander. In the very body of Church history which was the prime target for rationalisation and demystification, eighteenth-century men found the Templars, and turned them into a wild fantasy which for mystagogy and obfuscation equalled anything that the old Catholic historiography could offer. So successful was the enterprise that to this day it is impossible to approach the Templars without encountering the remnants, or even the full and gaudy robes, of eighteenth-century prejudice." (Quoted in Read, P.303")
In other words, don't get your ideas about the Knights Templar from the Freemasons, or from the books at the railway station bookstall. Get them from real scholars and historians.

Rilpinger (or rather the fabulists she draws on) finds something sinister in the fact that, in the Temple Church in London, "The floor is frequently interrupted with effigies of the ancient Knight;s [sic.] Templar lying prostrate on the floor, rather than standing erect, as statues usually do" (Pp. 849-50). This is screamingly funny because, as anyone who has ever been to any number of English Medieval Churches knows, Medieval funerary effigies are always recumbent. So Ingham Priory (pictured), also contains several effigies of crusader knights in a recumbent position. But what does that matter to the conspiracy theorist? Umberto Eco wrote of a lunatic:
"For him, everything proves everything else. The lunatic is all idée fixe, and whatever he comes across confirms his lunacy. You can tell him by the liberties he takes with common sense, by his flashes of inspiration, and by the fact that sooner or later he brings up the Templars."
Bravo, this witness is true.

Joking aside, how am I to trust a woman who believes such arrant nonsense about the Templars? I had hoped that the fantasies of Leigh and Baigent were their own refutation to Christians, and that the way Dan Brown (or rather the works he draws on) distort the history of the Bible would alert readers to the probability that they distort all the other history they meet - but obviously not. And this brings me to my main criticism of Riplinger's book. I can think of no book more likely to undermine the faith of the reader. In the name of defending the Bible she systematically undermines Greek and Hebrew study, telling us that, in effect, the Bible has been preserved instead in vernacular translations, some of which are secondary (i.e. translations of translations). A shallow, thoughtless reader might stop where she does, but a more thoughtful reader will go on thus: "If all Greek study tools today are faulty, then the tools available in the 1600s were still more faulty, therefore the AV is even less trustworthy than the modern versions, and we really have no idea how to translate the Bible. If we have to rely on translations of translations, then how can we be sure we do not end up with something like Chinese Whispers, with the final translation in fact bearing no relation at all to what was originally written?" Secondly, by quoting parts of books by Leigh and Baigent as if they contained fact (they do not), she encourages undiscerning Christians to read these works, which will plunge them into a morass of wild fantasy about Jesus, all denying His deity and the truthfulness and reliability of the Bible. Thus the thoughtful Christian may be led into atheism by this book! It does indeed contain 'Dangerous Materials'.


Jonathan Hunt said...

Are the PTS selling this one? ;-)

Highland Host said...

I hope not, I haven't read NABV, but by gum, I hope this is worse. If it's better, then anyone selling NABV ought to be ashamed of themselves!!!

Highland Host said...

What will be revealing, of course, is if the Pseudo-Puritan tries to defend Riplinger's use of Leigh and Baigent. Because to use such nonsense is indefensible when there are real books on the Templar out there.

The Puritan said...

Highland Host, you have to know that to begin a critique of Riplinger's book by demonstrating great resentment that she doesn't share your views of a subject like the Knights Templar (a subject you obviously have a special interest in) is going to look a bit silly.

I have intimate knowledge of a few historical subjects myself, and of course when we read any book that merely touches on our special subject we see the limits of the author's knowledge, again, especially if the subject matter is not central to the book. We also tend to be hyper-critical as well, don't we?

This seems to be all you can bring as way of criticism:

"If all Greek study tools today are faulty, then the tools available in the 1600s were still more faulty..."

If the thesis is devolution this of course doesn't follow.

Hiraeth said...

Of course, there is a world of difference between the statement 'does not share your views' and the fact that someone has swallowed a fairly large amount of ahistorical claptrap. Riplinger would surely not agree with the central thesis of Leigh and Bagient's books. So why use them? Indeed, if those books falsify sacred history, is it not likely that they will falsify secular history?

As for the medieval effigies business, all I can say is that the woman is American, and has clearly been to very few medieval churches.

Highland Host said...

What Hieraeth said. I have headed this 'first impressions', it is an informal piece. What is more, there is a huge difference, nay, a great gulf fixed, between not sharing my views and swallowing nonsense written by proponents of the New Age movement as if it were historical fact. My dear Pseudo-Puritan, what I have been trying to do here is expose her slipshod and faulty methods of historical research. This is NOT a matter of opinion, it is a matter of fact. Are you seriously suggesting that it is acceptable for a Christian writer to point to 'The Da Vinci Code' as a reliable source of historical information? Please answer yes or no.

By the way, have YOU read 'Hazardous Materials'?

The Puritan said...

No, I havn't acquired the book.

I highly suspect what you are saying though about her *using* the Da Vinci Code as some kind of historical authority. She is more than likely to write about that as she writes about other new age nonsense.

Anyway, it's not the subject of her book. You are doing what critical text critics of her New Age Bible Versions have done all these years, attack things other than her main thesis and subject matter. You can't attack that.

Accusing Gail Riplinger of being a dupe of the New Age Movement when she is clearly rather knowledgeable of that movement and has made it her career - second career - to expose it is like Critical Text scholars calling her a Romanist because Erasmus edited a manuscript, etc., etc. These are dishonest accusations. By the way, according to Romanist historians Calvin admitted to a priest he was a 'bugger' and that he had a demon in him. I just wrote that, do you think I believe it? Or am I being sarcastic? If Gail Riplinger wrote it I suspect you'd say she believed it.

This is all juvenile playground nonsense. You can't refute her main thesis, not since her first book came out. So you all continue this game of smearing the witness.

Gail Riplinger writes a book on lexicons and what not used by modern day critical text scholars and translators and your first move is to talk about Knights Templar and how ignorant she is about them.

As for calling me Pseudo-Puritan... Well, you labeled me that in the 1500s as a mocking name, and now you want to deny it to me because we have made it a name that garners respect. OK, whatever. We can't control you.

Highland Host said...

Aha! Then, my dear Pseudo-Puritan, you are criticizing me for criticism of a book that you have not read. I suggest that the only honest thing for you to do (to quote yourself) is to actually read Riplinger's book yourself. You have the GALL to accuse others of lying and misrepresenting a book that you have not read! For shame!

If you had read the book, you would know that Gail Riplinger presents the conclusions of Leigh and Baigent concerning the Knights Templar as fact. But no, you sit there, expecting me to do all the work, and when I say something you disagree with you say 'I highly doubt that', but make no effort whatsoever to examine what I have said! I, when challenged by yourself, bought this book AT ONCE! You have not read it, but because Gail Riplinger says she defends the King James, you defend a book you have never read!

You initially challenged me to read the book, and I, being that sort of man, bought the book at considerable expense and had it shipped across the Atlantic. You have then dared to critique my criticisms from your own position of sublime ignorance!

Let me tell you what Riplinger's conclusion in this book is. It is that God has finished with the Greek, and that God's Word is today preserved in vernacular translations. She condemns all Greek study since the time of Origen, and declares the revival of the study of the original languages at the time of the Reformation to be a blind alley. When I have actually properly read the book (which I have thus far skimmed and partially read more fully), I shall post my conclusions. In the meantime I expect you to read the book, and not to DARE to tell me what a book you have not read says!

Until you have actually read the book, I shall not stoop to reply to your comments. If honesty, sir (I am assuming you are a man), requires me to read the book to criticize it, it also requires you to read it before criticizing my critique.

Am I annoyed? You bet I am! You have nothing to bring here but your surmises about a book that you have never read, and yet when I offered mine about that same book you told me that the only honest thing for me to do was read it. Take your own medicine, and I do not want to see you here again until you have read 'Hazardous Materials' from cover to cover, you pestilential pretended Puritan!

Highland Host said...

I note also that your 'blog' has no posts. You look worryingly like a troll from here.

The Puritan said...

Well, I'm not critiquing something I've never read. And the subject matter is not new for Riplinger in this particular book.

And my 'higher doubt' comment referred to your reference of the Da Vinci Code (trouble keeping things straight?).

And please stop attempting to ally modern critical text scholars with the Reformation. Critical text scholars are part of the ongoing counter-Reformation, which is also seen in your demand that you shall define the Reformation era term Puritan against a five solas Bible believing Traditional Text, doctrines of grace, Federal Theology Christian.

Yes, continue with your 'objective' reading of this new book, HH...

Highland Host said...

I KNOW that you referred your 'highly doubt' comment to her use of the Da Vinci Code, but you have no grounds for saying that without reading Riplinger's book. But I see that you cannot resist defending a book you have not read. I at least have the honesty to read the book. If you do not, kindly cease your uninformed nonsense.

The Puritan said...

>kindly cease your uninformed nonsense.

This pious nonsense is comical considering I responded to you initially based on the fact that you were mocking her book without having read it or owned it. Mirror, meet Highland Host.

Carry on, though, I'll read your continuing posts, and I'll make an effort to get the book, Bavinck may come first, but we'll see...

Highland Host said...

Aha, but I INTENDED to read it all along. You only made sure I did so sooner.

It is possible that Ms. Riplinger's position has changed since the last one of her books that you have read. So let me ask a second question: Do you believe that the King James Bible is the result of a chain of inspired Vernacular Bibles dating back to the Apostolic age?

And thirdly, did you know that Gail Riplinger held to such a position?

Hiraeth said...

Shall we try to get the number of comments on this post up to twenty?

But here's my two pennies worth.

Apparently it is illegitimate for a person to comment on pre-release publicity without having read the book in question. Unless, of course, that person is a slavish defender of the person in question.

For myself I'd rather read the book before defending it. I looked at the website giving the pre-relase stuff, noted the rhyming couplets, and decided that I have far better things to do with my time. Like continue to plough through D. E. Jenkins on Thomas Charles of Bala.

Hiraeth said...

Oh, and I would agree with Puritan that he is not critiquing something he hasn't read. He's defending it instead, which is a great deal more dangerous. People have been known to go off the deep end, after all.

Oh, and I can't find the bit in the Westminster Confession which promotes King James Onlyism. Chapter 1, article VIII indicates that the framers believed that it was the scriptures in the original language were 'authentical', and therefore 'in all controversies of religion, the church is finally to appeal to them'.

On translation, the Westminster Confession merely states that the Holy Scriptures are ' be translated into the vulgar language of every nation unto which they come', hardly an endorsement of any particular translation.

Personally, I prefer the King James Version, but that does not mean that I consider other Bible versions to be evil or translated with ill intent. To be honest, I find that the worst feature of all this, the endless looking for 'conspiracies' and imputing vile motives to people with little justification. Can we not differ as Christian men and women?

The Puritan said...

>Do you believe that the King James Bible is the result of a chain of inspired Vernacular Bibles dating back to the Apostolic age?

Yes. Not only manuscripts, but the very meaning of the Hebrew and Greek is carried from the line of translation, the Gothic [no wet lectures on east Germanic vs. west Germanic please thank you] into the developing English, to the crown that is the AV1611. If modern day translators didn't have the great English Bible to crib from and get their word meanings from, i.e. if they attempted to translate solely in a historic and literary vacuum their product would be babble. One of the most unremarked upon aspects of this subject is how dependent critical text scholars and translators are on the English Bible. In fact, they don't dare depart from it (they let their corrupt manuscripts do that) for fear (rightful fear) of exposing themselves and their corrupt products.

>And thirdly, did you know that Gail Riplinger held to such a position?

Riplinger's position is more subtle than you know. Her position is practically speaking *not* English preservationist, just for the fact that all sound translations from the Masoretic and Received Text, whether Dutch or French or English, or German, etc. (all Reformation era, which is no coincidence) are the pure and whole - received - Word of God, which she obviously writes about to great length. Yet having said that English holds a unique place in God's plan of redemption in it being the language that became universal, the second language of the world, and the language of the nations that most drove the history of the world from the Reformation on. And one can see a clear refining of the language of the English Bible which one doesn't see in other languages. So in this unique sense the English Bible does indeed hold a unique place in the history of redemption and as the standard, which is why it is mocked and attacked by the world and the devil.

Hiraeth said...

'And one can see a clear refining of the language of the English Bible which one doesn't see in other languages.'

How do you know? Do you read all languages? Or is this another example of making an assertion without evidence?

What about the Bible of William Morgan of 1588? Does one not see a clear refining of the language in this Bible? Certainly the Welsh language would not have survived were it not for this translation.

The Puritan said...

>How do you know? Do you read all languages? Or is this another example of making an assertion without evidence?

Your reaction is typically off-key and belligerent. If there *is* a similar refining of the language and translation process that resulted in the famous Reformation era Masoretic/Received Text Bibles in the Dutch, German, French, Italian, etc., languages then more power to that fact. We clearly see it in the English Bible, and don't hear much of the same from the other languages.

You did a good job of zeroing right in on a portion of what I wrote that was the *most attackable* and ignoring everything else. That is what one does when one is unteachable on a subject, and doesn't even value learning anything new on a subject.

Highland Host said...

Obviously if you argue that every language has an inspired version of the Bible, you are not 'English Preservationist'. Did I ever say she was in my comments after reading parts of the tome? If anything implied that, it was not meant to do so.

Obviously you are one of Riplinger's 'fans' and supporters. That is your choice, it's a free country, after all. I see that you really do agree with her account of the preservation of the Bible, and quite frankly, that scares me. The position is unknown in the history of the Church, and thankfully in the conservative circles in which I move in the United Kingdom, in places where the use of the AV is considered a test of orthodoxy. Here the historic conservative Baptists are all Textus Receptus men, who argue the AV is the best translation there is of a pure text, but that the translation itself is not inspired.

The 'Inspired Vernacular Originals' hypothesis (which I hereby Christen IVOr), is something new, and something that I oppose not as an enemy of the AV, but as a friend who does not want to throw the Greek and Hebrew under the bus. I find the statement that translating the originals into English without consulting earlier vernacular translations would produce only 'a babble' unfortunate on your part. Obviously if a document has already been translated into the receptor language, or cognate languages, it makes sense to refer to such existing translations, but are you really saying it is impossible to translate ancient documents into modern languages without a chain of translations going back to the time that the original was produced?

I doubt there will be much point in continuing this meta, but let's get to 20 just for fun.

The Puritan said...

Of course critical text scholars have more problems than translation. The small matter of their corrupt texts is more foundational.

>The 'Inspired Vernacular Originals' hypothesis (which I hereby Christen IVOr), is something new, and something that I oppose not as an enemy of the AV

Why is everything turned into an exaggerated canard.

And there is a difference (listen carefully) in merely pronouncing something to be inspired (unique, special, excellent, without peer) and deriving that conclusion based on the fact of it itself.

And you can value and be a student of the Hebrew and Greek all you want, but you should also be wary of the makers of reference tomes and lexicons and so forth knowing that the Bible is not just any book but is a book directly in the bull's eye of the devil and his followers and has been from the beginning.

Highland Host said...

Made it to twenty!

Please tell me what I have exaggerated about the claim that Gail Riplinger believes and teaches (only a rogue teaches what they do not believe) that there were vernacular Bibles inspired through the gift of tongues in the Apostolic age.

My point all along has not been that modern language study aids are without fault, but that concluding from the fact, as Riplinger does, that we are to throw the Biblical languages under a bus and trust instead to the inspiration (which she defines Biblically, and not according to a secular definition such as you give, "unique, special, excellent, without peer") BY THE HOLY SPIRIT of vernacular Bibles is an illegitimate conclusion.

You write: "And there is a difference (listen carefully) in merely pronouncing something to be inspired (unique, special, excellent, without peer) and deriving that conclusion based on the fact of it itself."

As I have already noted, the definition of 'inspired' given in your comment is a secular one, not Biblical. The Bible defines inspiration as "Holy men of God wrote as they were moved by the Holy Ghost". Of course I am aware that there is a difference between pronouncing something to be inspired and proving it to be so. My contention is that it is impossible to prove, based on Scripture taken in context, that any one Bible translation is in and of itself inspired, properly speaking. Obviously I have yet to finish Riplinger's 1200-page tome, and so I must away and continue, as well as walk the dog and do the work of the ministry.

Waitaminute! said...

Gail qoutes from the works of many apostates and occultists. A mature Christian should have discernment when reading books like that. Gail remarks that she does not enjoy reading works from the dregs of society but she had to in order to present the much needed information to the body of Christ. Gail does "provide things honest in the sight of all men" And she makes it clear to her readers when she is qouting the works of the evil one.
Any secret society associated with Mystery Babylon can not be up to ANY good.
Are these REAL books on the templars of the same caliber as the works promoting the Westcott Hort texts?