Friday, May 30, 2014

No Lucifer, No Fall

I was asked where it says in the bible about Satan being a fallen angel, so I did a little digging to try and find out, and in the course of my digging I discovered that "Lucifer" is essentially a translation glitch.

The first thing I noticed that was odd, is the scripture quoted about Lucifer is only translated that way in the KJV and later translations and modifications based on the KJV.  Also, it appears only once in those translations, in a book of  more than 700,000 words.  (The one time it shows up: http://www.biblegate...qs_version=AKJV )

More common translations are variations of "morning star" "son of the morning" "day star" and "shining one".  It seems that other than the KJV, translators did not view this as a proper name but as an informal description of someone.  ( list of translations )

Now who was that someone?

In context, the verse is supposed to be about the king of Babylon.   As this text was old testament and therefore written prior to Revelations, there is no reason to believe that they are referring to the metaphoric Babylon as in Revelations, but of actual, map-able Babylon as it was a real place at one time.  That leads me to the conclusion that it was written about a real king.  A human being who was the leader of Babylon (and apparently not a very nice guy).

Reading through the entirety of Isaiah 14, the context suggests that this king was an oppressor and cruel, who also had a great deal of power and was able to takeover multiple nations of people, kind of like the emperors of Rome or even Hitler as more modern examples.  The way that the verse is written is similar to songs, poetry or similar creative writings throughout history that make use of metaphor and other literary devices to paint a picture of an event rather than retelling word for word what happened (as one would as a court stenographer, for example).

The concept of being above or below are common human archetypes, among people with exposure to the bible and among those without.  Mankind has always looked up at the birds, the mountains and the sun and thought of being higher as being greater, and of being lower of being lesser.  No one respects someone who lives in a basement and the higher you go in modern skyscrapers, usually the higher the authority of those in those levels.  Kings throughout history have set their thrones on pedestals to be above the common man both physically and as a metaphor for their power.

To say that this king fell from heaven or from on high is more likely a way of saying he went from being great to being as nothing, further supported by the statements in the same text that he doesn't even get to be in his grave as being that low is too good for him.  He didn't fall from literal heaven, he fell from power.

In light of all of this, I suppose that the text is a taunt meant in the same way modern humans like to "talk crap" on others.  They'll get what is coming to them, he's going to loose his stature, one day he'll fall and be just like the rest of us... no, he'll be lower than the rest of us, not as good!  In modern terms, it's like these :  http://www.thedailyb...c-and-more.html (contains explicit content)    In the one, it is said "I have stacks of money bigger than you"  It doesn't mean he actually has stacks of money sitting around, but that his wealth is so great it makes the other rappers accomplishments and stature look puny.

It does not appear that Lucifer was meant as a proper name and wasn't written as such except in the KJV and subsequent translations.  There was no angel who attempted to take over and is fallen from heaven, that is taking his revenge on God by using humans.  He didn't gain support of other angels and try to take over heaven.  The literal text of the Bible doesn't support it.

I realize people often cross reference this text to others claiming similarity and thereby support of the meaning, but in many cases the text referenced is from later written books of the Bible.  So, when Luke 10:18 says "And he said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven. "  it is just as likely a reference to the prior written and disseminated texts referring to fallen kings, turned into something that suited the cause of the moment.

Furthermore, I've read that in Jewish belief, it is indeed believed to be about the king of Babylon and the same is believed about the Ezekiel verses about the king of Tyre.  Why do Christians choose to see the fall of an angel to become the devil, in these verses?  As far as I can tell, the Bible does not state or imply that Satan or the devil was ever an angel, yet it is a concept that bears widespread belief.

This is just one of many falsehoods given life and belief because biblical text has been taken out of context and cross referenced in the name of "interpretation".  How much of the common, day to day beliefs held are caused by errors in translation, personal interpretation shared as fact, and simple misunderstanding?

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