Response to a Defense of Zeitgeist: Apostles and the Zodiac
Our next topic on D. M. Murdock’s list of ten “myths” about the religion section of the film Zeitgeist is that the twelve zodiac signs are not the 12 disciples. She claims this is false and uses as evidence the work of Tim Hegedus. Well, actually her evidence is a misrepresentation of Tim Hegedus.
As part of her evidence for the Apostles=Zodiac association, she related a quote from Hegedus as follows:
As theologian Rev. Dr. Tim Hegedus remarks in Early Christianity and Ancient Astrology (343): “[The] twelve apostles have taken over the role of guardian…of the zodiacal signs that had traditionally been held by the twelve [Olympian] gods.”
Thus Murdock certainly is giving the impression that Dr. Hegedus stated the twelve apostles were a replacement for the zodiac. But did he?
One common type of quotemine is to remove a qualifier from a statement. For example, if someone quoted me stating “Jesus had no physical body” but I actually wrote “The Docetists believed Jesus had no physical body”, then that would be a misrepresentation of my views. The qualifier “The Docetists believed” makes all the difference as it restricts what follows to a particular group rather than presenting it as my opinion. Thus it is dishonest (or incompetent) to quote a qualified statement as something the author himself believed.
This is exactly what Murdock did with the Hegedus quote as what he actually wrote was:
Moreover, in effect for both Theodotus and the Priscillianists, the twelve Apostles have taken over the role of guardian (tutela) of the zodiacal signs that had traditionally been held by the twelve gods of the Olympian pantheon.
Astonishingly, she left off the qualifier that makes clear that Dr. Hegedus was referring to the beliefs of specific Gnostic groups and not his own opinion. Theodotus was a late second century Gnostic. The Priscillianists were a quasi-Gnostic group in the Iberian peninsula in the fourth and fifth centuries. Both are far too late to have anything to do with the founding of Christianity.
Furthermore, neither Theodotus nor the Priscillianists believed the Apostles were the signs of the zodiac and not real people. For example, Theodotus wrote:
By reason of great humility the Lord did not appear as an angel but as a man, and when he appeared in glory to the apostles on the Mount he did not do it for his own sake when he showed himself, but for the sake of the Church which is “the elect race,” that it might learn his advancement after his departure from the flesh.
Thus it is pretty clear that he believed they were real people. However, some gnostics, Theodotus included, believed the Apostles’ role in the afterlife was as guardians of the zodiac. It was all rather ridiculous and an obvious blending of Christianity and pagan ideas but it had nothing to do with the Apostles being the signs of the zodiac and not real people.
This is typical of Murdock. Take an isolated phrase or sentence without actually reading the context and run with it to make a point the author never intended.