What do I think of Ralph Woodrow’s self-published work? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.
At the outset, I’ll tell you I don’t know a lot about Ralph Woodrow. A month or two ago I hadn’t even heard his name. Now that I have heard of him, this book gives me a tremendous respect for him. Why is that?
Ralph Woodrow used to be one of the greatest advocates of the work of Alexander Hislop. He was well-known in that position by his opponents. At one speaking engagement, he was even introduced as Reverend Hislop. His book on the Babylonian Connections between the Roman Catholic Church and Babylon was the best seller of his ministry. If you wanted to know what was his greatest success and money-maker was, look at that book.
Most of the response was positive, but there was a high school history teacher who really liked Woodrow’s ministry, but knew there were problems. Hislop was not the reliable source that Woodrow thought he was. This teacher wrote Woodrow challenging him to go and investigate the claims of Hislop by looking up the primary sources.
Woodrow found that he had been fooled by Hislop. On paper, Hislop looked impressive after all. He had an impressive bibliography and several notes to back his case. The problem was those sources were rarely checked. Woodrow’s response? Was it to keep selling the book he had written and get the money? No. It was to sacrifice it by removing the book from sale and by writing this book in response. Woodrow owned up to his mistake.
At this point, I don’t care if you agree with Woodrow or disagree, but if someone is willing to do that, I think that deserves respect.
A work like this is needed today because there are too many Christians who buy into conspiracy theory type thinking and ideas like that of Hislop fuel into it. Let’s not forget that also atheists are buying into this. If you want any evidence of this, just look at Jesus mythicism. Just yesterday I had someone share with me all the similarities between Horus and Jesus. Had they done any verification of the claims? No. Could they name any respected living Egyptologist who would back the claims? No. Still, it was shared. Sure, you can count the number of Jesus mythicists on one hand out of thousands of NT scholars and classical and ancient historians (By scholar, I mean someone with a Ph.D. in the relevant field and passes peer-review and not just some person on the internet with a blog, web site, self-published book, etc. and yes, I know that means I am not a scholar so don’t treat me like one) but hey, the modern internet atheists knows better than all of them!
If most of us had the guts to go and look at the claims closely like Woodrow did and be open to being wrong, we would have much better debates.
So on to the book. An aspect of it is that Woodrow is seeking to show how ridiculous Hislop’s system is, and I think he succeeds wonderfully. For Hislop, everything traced back to Nimrod in the Bible and his being married to Seimramis. Never mind that even if Semiramis existed, it would have been centuries apart from Nimrod. A theory should never be dislodged by some inconvenient facts after all.
Hislop then tries to show that if you name any pagan god, that goes back to Nimrod. (Goddesses go to Semiramis.) Do you see a ritual here in Hawaii honoring deity X? That traces to Babylon. Do you see something in Scandanavia? That goes back to Nimrod. Is a belief being honored in Tahiti? Nimrod is responsible. Why? Well who else would it be? If everything went forth from Babylon and the rule of Nimrod, then if it shows up anywhere, that’s because of Nimrod.
You’re not convinced?
Yeah. Neither am I.
Hislop also argued from similarities based on words. Of course, this would often be their English spelling but hey, we know the rest of the world always thought in English. It’s just like the people who think Jesus is a way of saying “Hey Zeus!” It’s the people who think Israel is a way of saying “Isis, Ra, and Elohim.” Do you think this sounds ridiculous? There are plenty of people who actually believe this.
Now a downside would be that if you’re a believer in Scripture, you’ll agree with a lot that Woodrow says. If you’re not, then chances are you could wind up walking away and thinking “Yeah. The Bible borrowed everything from the pagans too.” Of course, that’s not the fault of Woodrow because I don’t think this book is written to atheists, but I do know the way that too many online think. Everything in Christianity was borrowed from the pagans!
Whatever your stripe, take this book as a warning. Just because that source you are using points to multiple sources and looks compelling (*cough cough* Wikipedia *cough cough*) that does not mean it is reliable. Try and go back and check the sources as much as you can. If some atheists had done this with the Zeitgeist movie, they might not have embarrassed themselves so much by hyping it everywhere they went.
Also, Woodrow is certainly no Catholic and neither am I, but I do agree with him that there’s a great deal we agree with them. I am happy to call many Catholics my brothers and sisters in Christ. At the same time, when it comes to our discussions about our differences, let’s make sure those differences are grounded in fact. Hislop’s work is not and the most ardent Protestant arguing against Catholicism should not use a work like Hislop’s. We have better areas to debate rather than accusing one another of pagan practice.
I recommend Woodrow’s work then for anyone who has bought into Hislop’s false information. Unfortunately today, there are a thousand Hislops from numerous other perspectives. (Again, think Jesus mythicists.) Maybe someday our culture will learn the practice of going and reading academic works and checking claims, but I am skeptical.