Friday, December 24, 2010
Sitchin’s weakness is that the textual interpretation of cuneiform tablets is naturally suspect as all ancient tests must be. In this case the founding of
The work of Zecharia Sitchin was brought to my attention in 2001, shortly after I completed my book, The Facade. As a trained scholar in ancient Semitic languages with a lifelong interest in UFOs and paranormal phenomena, I was naturally enthused about Mr. Sitchin's studies, particularly since I had also heard he was a Sumerian scholar. I thought I had found a kindred spirit. Unfortunately, I was wrong. Zecharia Sitchin is not a scholar of ancient languages. What he has written in his books could neither pass peer review nor is it informed by factual data from the primary sources. I have yet to find anyone with credentials or demonstrable expertise in Sumerian, Akkadian, or any of the other ancient Semitic languages who has positively assessed Mr. Sitchin's academic work.
The reader must realize that the substance of my disagreement is not due to "translation philosophy," as though Mr. Sitchin and I merely disagree over possible translations of certain words. When it comes to the Mesopotamian sources, what is at stake is the integrity of the cuneiform tablets themselves, along with the legacy of
Mesopotamian scribes. Very simply, the ancient Mesopotamians compiled their own
dictionaries - we have them and they have been published since the mid-20th
century. The words Mr. Sitchin tells us refer to rocket ships have no such
meanings according to the ancient Mesopotamians themselves. Likewise when Mr.
Sitchin tells readers things like the Sumerians believed there were twelve
planets, the Anunnaki were space travelers, Nibiru was the supposed 12th
planet, etc., he is simply fabricating data. It isn't a question of how he
translates texts; the issue is that these ideas don't exist in any cuneiform
text at all. To persist in embracing Mr. Sitchin's views on this matter (and a
host of others) amounts to rejecting the legacy of the ancient Sumerian and
Akkadian scribes whose labors have come down to us from the ages. Put bluntly,
is it more coherent to believe a Mesopotamian scribe's definition of a word, or
Mr. Sitchin's? Sumer
Zecharia Sitchin's work in other texts, such as the Bible, is equally flawed. This site bears witness to the sorts of erors Sitchin makes in language analysis and translation with respect to the Hebrew Bible and the
Dead Sea Scrolls.
What I've said here is very straightforward. It would be quite easy to demonstrate that I am wrong. All one needs to do is produce texts that I say don't exist, and produce verification of Sitchin's translations by other experts (that's called peer review). Since I don't believe such evidence will be forthcoming, I offer this open letter to Zecharia Sitchin, his followers, and other ancient astronaut theorists who defend Sitchin's views.
Dear Mr. Sitchin and others:
While the contents of this letter may constitute a challenge to your academic scholarship, the intent of this letter is in the interest of research, not confrontation. In no way do I intend to impugn your character. What I ask is that you provide answers and data to support the theories you have published. Here are my questions / requests.
1. Can you please provide transcripts of your academic language work, or an address to which I could write to obtain proof of your training in the ancient languages in which you claim expertise? I would like to post this information on my website, and would gladly do so.
2. Can you explain why your work on Genesis 1:26-27 overlooks so many obvious grammatical indications that the word elohim in that passage refers to a single deity (as demonstrated on this website)?
3. Can you explain why you did not include the comparative linguistic material from the Amarna texts that shows the Akkadian language also uses the plural word for "gods" to refer to a single deity or person (which of course undermines your argument that elohim must refer to a plurality of gods)?
4. Can you explain how your interpretation of the word "nephilim" is at all viable in light of the rules of Hebrew morphology? Can you provide any evidence that "naphal" has anything to do with fire or rockets, since you translate "nephilim" as "people of the fiery rockets"? In other words, can you bring forth a single ancient text where naphal has such meanings?
5. Can you produce a single text that says the Anunnaki come from the planet Nibiru - or that Nibiru is a planet beyond Pluto? I assert that there are no such texts, and challenge you and readers to study the occurrences of "Anunnaki" right here on this website. Here is a video where I show readers how to conduct a search online at the Electronic Corpus of Sumerian Literature website. There are 182 occurrences of the divine name Anunnaki. Please show me any evidence from the Sumerian texts themselves that the Anunnaki have any connection to Nibiru or a 12th planet (or any planet).
6. Can you explain why the alleged sun symbol on cylinder seal VA 243 is not the normal sun symbol or the symbol for the sun god Shamash?
7. Can you explain why your god=planet equivalencies do not match the listings of such matching in cuneiform astronomical texts?
8. Can you explain why many of your critical word meanings / translations of Sumerian and Mesopotamian words are not consistent with Mesopotamian cuneiform bilingual dictionaries?
Thank you for taking the time to respond. I will of course post any responses on this site.
Michael S. Heiser, Ph.D., Hebrew and Semitic Studies,
University of Wisconsin-Madison