Incredibly Irresponsible YouTube Video

… and given the quality of some YouTube videos, that’s saying something. In this case the WorldNetDaily is also pushing the idea, though they give some weak lip service to responsibility by noting that there are other ideas out there, and being sure to credit it all to the anonymous producer. If you want to watch the video, you can go to their site–I’m not going to embed it here.

Basically, by loosely translating some Greek words from Luke 10:18 into Hebrew, mixing them with a bit of really poor exegesis (I shudder to even use the word to describe this), pretending that all this relates to Jesus speaking Aramaic, and then comparing their sounds with yet another language, the producer of the video suggests that Jesus gave us a clue to who the antichrist is, and he is–drum roll please–President Barack Obama. He covers this by reciting some data about these ancient languages that is largely not relevant to his point, but makes him sound like he knows what he’s talking about, always assuming the listener does not.

Amongst the myriad problems are:

  • The “heights” interpretation of “from heaven” in Luke 10:18 is by no means established, and actually unlikely.
  • Back translating is always dangerous
  • Even if all translations are allowed as valid, there is no form of this statement in which Jesus would have uttered something that sounded like “Barack Obama.” In order to get that combination of sounds the speaker had to use “lightning and a high place” which would be something like “baraq ubamah” with the ‘u’ being “oo” and not “oh.”
  • Even if the speaker was not completely off base at that point (though he is), there is no contextual indication suggesting that a set of unrelated sounds in here should be taken as a name. Outside of context, many relationships can be found between sounds of different languages, none of which mean anything except that some sounds are similar to other sounds.
  • The claim that a Rabbi endorses the video is not supported by the banner on which it is printed, since the Rabbi only confirms the translations of two phrases, and the second of those phrases is incorrect. I suspect miswording/misunderstanding on the part of those who created the video, assuming they contacted the Rabbi mentioned at all, because no Rabbi would make the error in question.

I’ve already given this guy too much time, but I did one more thing just for fun. Since he emphasized the Aramaic relationship, I looked to see how some folks who used a similar language–Syriac–actually translated the verse. Recall the dangers of back translation. The Peshitta reads “shemaya”, a reasonably close equivalent and cognate of the Hebrew “shamayim,” the very word the video produce rejects in favor of “bamah.”

I suspect some Christians are spreading this as a joke, but it’s not a good joke. It is improper use of scripture from start to finish. It constitutes innuendo and gossip, as people are disturbed by the implications. I wish I could say that the Christian community is well enough educated Biblically to simply reject this out of hand, but I’m afraid that’s not the case.

There’s a disclaimer saying that the video is not intended to suggest that Barack Obama is the antichrist. That’s much like the church gossip who says, “I saw our pastor out with X from the choir. I’m not suggesting there’s an inappropriate relationship, but …”

The producer says he’s remaining anonymous but he’s “not ashamed of what he put there.” He should be.

(A secondary hat tip goes to Dispatches, though a friend pointed this video out to me last night.)

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