Q&A with the author Michael J. Miller
Michael J. Miller, The Blind Man’s Elephant
[The author has written numerous articles for newspapers and magazines, as well as television documentaries and award winning educational films on varied topics including local, national and international politics, economics, medicine, history, the marine environment and theology among others. He has degrees in political science, history and theology. This is his first book. --The Publisher]
- What prompted you to write the book?
- There are many surprises in your book. What do you think it will accomplish?
- I don’t consider myself a religious or scientific type person. Will I be able to read your book and understand it?
- The book is logically well laid out for the reader. As such it makes complete sense when reading it. Yet when I was finished reading The Blind Man’s Elephant, I was acutely aware that it is very contrary to our common view of Christianity. What gives?
- In Chapter Five of the book, you mention a “stone” that struck the image upon its feet, and broke it to pieces. The Otttoman Empire, who had occupied the ancient territory of Babylon and modern day Jerusalem, lost this at the end of WW1 to the British. This territory after WW1 became known as British Palestine. Any significance in this?
- I have a few questions I would like answered. First, why do you refer to the Bible as the "Biblical Record"? Second, why do you use the King James Version versus other translations such as the NIV? And third, why did you pick the 1st century and not, for example, another period of time?
What prompted you to write the book?
LB, San Diego, CA
I get asked this question a lot. There were two basic reasons. One, I was very surprised to discover some of the ideas espoused by evangelicals and conservative Christian leaders. From my point of view, it appeared they were making up doctrine to suit preconceived notions. My initial reaction to much of this was, “Where did that idea come from? In decades of research, I never came across that in the Biblical record.” So I set out to find out if what they were claiming had any support in the Biblical record or in science too if the subject was appropriate. The answers to many of these questions make up the Prologue and the chapters.
Second, my research always took an open-ended, analytical look at what science and/or the Biblical text said, coupled with context of the time in which it was written. It was always an exciting adventure not knowing what you would turn up. Not only is the truth stranger than fiction, it’s often dramatically insightful in unexpected ways. So to me, researching the book was an adventure. Too frequently people just pick and choose a religious verse here and there, then in support of their preconceived notion proclaim, “Aha, see life begins at conception” or whatever we’d prefer the Biblical text to say. Upon closer inspection, little or no support is provided. In the case of the beginning of life, either physically or spiritually the entirety of the Biblical record in agreement. Life begins at birth, at first breath. Thus the debate over abortion from certain segments of Christianity needs to be revisited. I’ve been surprised on quite a few occasions to discover what is commonly thought to be in the Biblical text just isn’t there.
There are many surprises in your book. What do you think it will accomplish?
JK, Santa Barbara, CA
Well, the goal of the book really is to present an alternative, a counterbalance if you will, to evangelical and conservative Christian ideas based on science and the Biblical record. People need to think through their own beliefs rather than accept someone else’s beliefs at face value whether those values are considered liberal or conservative. At one time it was a rather liberal point of view to think the Earth revolved around the Sun. It’s hardly that today. So, while our notions of what’s liberal or conservative change over time, the facts don’t.
Often people lack the knowledge or desire on how to go about digging for answers. Thus, the book’s chapters take readers through the process concerning relevant topics that are somewhat contentious in society. So often, contention arises from a lack of seeing the big picture or in the case of the book, the entire elephant. However, I ask that readers not accept what I’ve written at face value either. Make sure the beliefs you hold are those you are sure of and have proven for yourself. The lack of challenging ideas leads to fear. And fear bullies us into inaction. When we, in an honest and intelligent manner challenge ideas, we become stronger and see more clearly as a result. When the book gets someone thinking for themselves rather than blindly following someone else, then from my point of view, it will have accomplished its goal.
I don’t consider myself a religious or scientific type person. Will I be able to read your book and understand it?
FN, Toronto, Ont.
Well I certainly hope so. I’ve written the book so that going through each subject step by step just about any lay reader should follow it rather easily. One reader, who also happens to be a NYT Best Seller List novelist, said, “I am VERY much impressed by the clarity of your writing, and thought, on this complex subject.” It’s great to have this sort of feedback. However, each reader needs to think critically and have an open mind. I’m sure you won’t have read another book quite like this. When you finish reading the book, then decide what you make of it. There are endnotes for each chapter to help fill in some of the details. Worse case scenario, just email us with any other questions you may have.
The book is logically well laid out for the reader. As such it makes complete sense when reading it. Yet when I was finished reading the Blind Man’s Elephant, I was acutely aware that it is very contrary to our common view of Christianity. What gives?
KL, Boston, MA
Well, yes, it sort of turns our modern perception of Christianity upside-down. However, I prefer to say it turns the historical view of Biblical Christianity right side up. Over the past two millennia, Christianity, little by little, has evolved into a different entity. For a clear example of this, read the Feature article, The Good News Colour Revolution. However, many of the issues confronting society such as evolution versus the creation of man, the universe being created in six days 6000 years ago versus the universe being about 14 billion years old, the beginning of life at conception, the indirect scientific proof God does exist and is active in affairs here on Earth, are very confusing if we just contrast science with religion. It’s as if these issues are framed in such a way as to continue the arguments and conflict, creating adversarial points of view, rather than finding the common ground and resolving the issues. But when valid science and an objective look at the Biblical record are brought into confluence, perceived conflicts vanish. It’s just that most religious views are based on the evolved species of the “elephant” that is Christianity today. Thus when reading the book and comparing it to what we see as Christianity, yes the book does provide a very different, though coherent perspective.
Please note that both The Blind Man's Elephant and The Hijacked Elephant are complimentary PDFs now available at the bottom of our Home page.
In Chapter Five of the book, you mention a “stone” that struck the image upon its feet, and broke it to pieces. The Otttoman Empire, who had occupied the ancient territory of Babylon and modern day Jerusalem, lost this at the end of WW1 to the British. This territory after WW1 became known as British Palestine. Any significance in this?
CS, Seattle, WA
Yes, there is quite a bit of historical and Biblical significance for us today concerning the end of the great image explained by Daniel to the king of ancient Babylon.
In the second chapter of Daniel we read, “You [king of Babylon] saw until a stone was cut out without hands [that is, not by the power of man]…which struck the image upon his feet of iron and clay and broke them into pieces.” It was the British, primarily, who defeated Germany and their Ottoman allies in World War One. Think Lawrence of Arabia. The British Empire was that stone mentioned by Daniel.
As you stated, at the end of World War One in 1918, the land areas including both Jerusalem and the ancient site of Babylon were lost by the Ottomans and became known as British Palestine. The British, specifically Winston Churchill, drew up a portion of this area into current day Iraq. You can read all about it in Christopher Catherwood’s, “Churchill's Folly: How Winston Churchill Created Modern Iraq.” Iraq, of course, continues to be somewhat of a folly for the west, but not without reason.
Now when we check out the description of the sons of Israel in the “last days,” we discover that the stone of Israel is mentioned in the prophetical chapter Genesis 49, verses 22-26 concerning Joseph, one of the twelve sons of Israel who are nations today. As you may recall from the book, Joseph became the kingly line of the House of Israel after the death of King Solomon. The first king of the House of Israel was Jeroboam, a descendant of Ephraim as are the current royal household. The kingly line of the House of Judah remained with Judah.
The scholarly Matthew Henry’s Commentary says this about Joseph in context, “The state of honour and usefulness to which he [Joseph] was subsequently advanced: Thence (from this strange method of providence) he became the shepherd and stone, the feeder and supporter, of God’s Israel….” Who is it that made Joseph this stone, a stone cut out not by the power of man? “But his bow abode in strength, and the arm of his hands were made strong by the hands of the mighty [God] of Jacob [Israel].”
Now rather interestingly, in the history of Israel the heritage of Joseph is described through his two sons, the brothers Ephraim and Manasseh. Manasseh is the elder brother. Therefore the kingly line would be expected to pass through Manasseh. However, the patriarch Israel, in chapter forty-eight of Genesis, specifically went to his son Joseph and told him, “And now your two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh…are mine as Rueben and Simeon, they shall be mine.” Reuben and Simeon were the first and second born sons of Israel. Israel is telling Joseph that Ephraim and Manasseh also in the last days shall be considered as the first and second born sons of Israel.
When it came time for Israel to pass along the birthright blessings to Joseph’s sons, the account in Genesis 48 says, “The angel [or messenger] which redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads [grandsons]; and let my name be named on them, and the names of my fathers Abraham and Isaac [recall from Chapter Six, we quoted Paul telling the church that in Isaac shall your seed be called, which in turn was quoted by Paul from Genesis, chapter 21];
“And let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth. And when Joseph saw that he [Israel] laid his right hand upon the head of Ephraim, it displeased him; and he held his father’s hand, to remove it from Ephraim’s head unto Manasseh’s head.
“And Joseph said to his father, ‘Not so my father: for this is the firstborn; put your right hand upon his head.’ And his father refused, and said, ‘I know it, my son, I know: he [Manasseh] shall also become a people, and he also shall be great: but truly his younger brother [Ephraim] shall be greater than he, and his seed shall become a multitude of nations [or as it says in Genesis 35, a company of nations].’”
Thus we see two brothers, Joseph’s sons becoming two distinct people, one a company of nations and the other a great nation as the first and second born of Abraham and Isaac in the last days. Of all the children of Israel as nations in the last days, these two shall be the greatest among their brothers.
So who are these two brothers? One would be a company or assembly of nations and the other brother a single great nation by the end of the great image at the end of World War One described by Daniel. Who fits this description in 1918? Into whose hands did the lands of the ancient Babylon and Jerusalem pass? The British. Or to put it other words, the Commonwealth of the British Empire, a company of nations. And who would be considered a single great nation, a brother to the British? The United States. No other nations fit this description. As Israel said, “let my name be named on them and the names of my fathers Abraham and Isaac.” And as you read the sixth chapter in the book, The Genesis Birthright, this has huge implications for the emergence of the sixth empire and events unfolding around us today. [See Revelation 17, Holy Curiosity: Factoids From the First Century, Main Menu].
Historically then, more than 2500 years after Daniel wrote about the great image that was broken into pieces by a stone that struck its feet, the pivotal territory of the fifth empire, as well as the four that preceded it, passed into the hands of the British becoming known as British Palestine. Go back though this now, and where you read Ephraim, substitute the British Empire in its place. And for Manasseh, substitute the United States. It should pop into perspective for you.
Interestingly as well, is that thirty years later, in 1948, the land encompassing Jerusalem became the nation-state of Israel. Portions of the land of ancient Israel including Jerusalem passed into the kingly hands of the son of Joseph, Ephraim and then into the kingly hands of Judah where it shall remain until the emergence of the sixth empire.
If all this appears a bit puzzling to you readers, a complete reading of the book will fill in the missing pieces for you. Also read our Feature article, A Funny Thing Happened ... in the Prophecy section.
I have a few questions I would like answered. First, why do you refer to the Bible as the "Biblical Record"?
LS, Toronto, Ont.
I’ve done this intentionally in that a number of people have a negative knee-jerk reaction to the word "Bible." In some ways, I can readily understand this as the Bible has been used, or more correctly, misused and misrepresented for just about every purpose under the Sun. To invoke it as an authority automatically pigeonholes one’s cognitive abilities in certain circles. This is unfair to both the text and to the scholarly dedication in which it has been preserved for us not only as a theological document, but as a historical one as well. Thus, my intent is to let the Biblical record speak for itself. And it can do this quite well when given the chance. I have done this for reasons not altogether altruistic. If someone wishes to argue a point, his or her argument must be with the original text and hopefully, not my explanation of it.
Second, why do you use the King James Version versus other translations such as the NIV?
LS, Toronto, Ont.
Personally, I still prefer this version to other versions, as I am most familiar with it. While there are some misinterpretations in this version, they are known and well documented. And as an English literary document, the KJV is still held in the highest regard. However, I have, for ease of reading, updated the thees, the thous, and the saiths, etc. which is why some people have an aversion to the KJV. Occasionally, an old English word is not well understood in which case I have gone back to the original Hebrew or Greek and replaced it with the modern word. For example, the old English word quicken means to make alive. After its first use, I would use to make alive in its place being sure it is correct in context. In all cases, the KJV quote is end-noted so folks can check the original for themselves.
Also, today, in both the EU and US, the TPP and TIPP, there is some discussion that it will be illegal to hyperlink to another website's articles for "fear" that it "might" contain some infringed copyrighted material. This is a ploy by governments to curtain the free and open use of the internet. The burden to avoid possible copyright infringement should lie with the posting site. Thus, the scriptures quoted herein on the website are all in the public domain. The exception is the NLT, which is used by permission, which is listed at the bottom of article. In the case of the KJV, it is in the public domain outside of the UK. So being outside the UK, it is referenced. It is a bit farcical at times as a copyrighted version of the Bible only has changed a ye into you, and made unto into to, and then copyrighted it. In any other work of literature, this would be considered plagiarism. On top of this, it does seem a bit absurd, especially for corporations, to copyright the word of God ... unless, at the risk of sounding a tad paranoid, the ultimate goal is to block access to these translations online. So, we stick with the public domain translations.
In some cases, as you read through the articles, you might discover that what is in quotes in the article is not an exact match for what is written in one of the public domain translations. That's because the Hebrew or Greek word or words have more than one defintion or connotation. Sometimes they all miss the mark. For example, if an English translation read, "the gentiles of the world," this would lead us to believe that anyone on the Earth not a Jew is a gentile, that is anyone outside the covenant relationship with our LORD. This is an incorrect deduction, especially as the Old Law Covenant is defunct. [Zec. 11:10, 11]. From the Biblical's record's perspective, then, Jews would be gentiles, or outside a covenant relationship, today. [See the Feature article, A Tale Of Two Covenants].
However, when the original Greek uses the words ethnos as gentiles and kosmos as world, it would be incorrect to only translate them as gentiles and world. While ethnos can be translated as gentiles, heathens, nations or peoples, and kosmos as the English word world, which in our vernacular we'd take to mean everybody on Earth. However, the context of the entirety of the Biblical record means this should be translated as "the nations of God's plan," or "the people of God's plan," which in the New Testament is a reference to the House of Israel. See Mat. 15:24, also the Feature articles Mirror, Mirror, On The Wall and Moving Forward. This should be considered an MJM translation. As an example of Biblical context, see 1 Pet. 2:9, 10 and Exd. 19:5, 6. Remember, the Biblical record is one book written to the same people from Genesis to Revelation. Thus, verse 10 of Peter is a reference to the time of the divorced state of the House of Israel, not gentiles of the world. [Jer. 3:6-8]. But in all cases, the text will be explained and clarified, and the book, chapter and verses quoted are included so you can check it out for yourself in the translation of your choice.
And third, why did you pick the 1st century and not, for example, another period of time?
LS, Toronto, Ont.
As I mention throughout the book, both the Jewish Bible, or Old Testament and the New Testament are a complete text. There are no other books that could merit consideration for inclusion. The Old Testament was put together under very stringent guidelines by Ezra and Nehemiah. And the priesthood was very meticulous in handing down precise documents. The New Testament canon was put together specifically by those who actually walked and talked and ate with Christ. They were his disciples and apostles. While Paul’s writings [see Gal. 1:11,12], make up the bulk of the New Testament, Peter, James and at the end of the first century, John put all their writings, among others, together into a coherent and complete canon for those of us who would live after their deaths. Even by 50-60 AD or CE, Christian Era, the original apostles saw falsehoods creeping into Christianity compared to what they had learned directly from Christ. Thus, using the first century text is getting it straight from the "elephant all of them had seen," which is the anti-point John Godfrey Saxe makes in his poem. If you wish to read a very thorough and intriguing examination of the canonizing process, please get a copy of Restoring the Original Bible by Ernest L. Martin. A quick on-line search will turn it up for you.
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