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The Two Babylons by Reverend Alexander Hislop

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General Information On Alexander Hislop And The Two Babylons

The Two Babylons was written by the late Reverend Alexander Hislop in pamphlet form in Edinburgh in 1853, greatly expanded 5 years later and has since appeared in many editions in both Great Britain and the United States.

Hislop was well educated: Doubtless, his proximity to Edinburgh, especially at that time in history opened many doors and avenues of learning for him. He was a very intelligent, well educated and respected man. He authored quite a few essays and books but he is best known as the author of The Two Babylons. A book considered by many Christians to be a/the classic in the study of Christian Apologetics.

  • Hislop was well educated
  • A formal education of any kind in that era emphasized a good working knowledge of classical literature
  • His proximity to Edinburgh, especially at that time in history opened many doors and avenues of learning for him
  • His knowledge of classic literature, philosophy, etc. was not unusual for his time. Even the "average" well educated man of his time in some ways surpassed most modern students of today.
  • Hislop first handed out The Two Babylons in pamphlet form in Edinburgh in 1853, His subject and sources would have been "well known" to much of his intended audience
  • He studied his subject extensively.
  • His notes are extensive.

CONCERNING THE BOOK: A Plea For Discernment

1. I Highly Recommend Reading The Two Babylons. The Two Babylons has made an impression on my life, but I do not consider it to be comparable to The Bible. One should always remember to use discernment. There is only one Bible; all other books are just books. Though a classic in the study of Christian Apologetics and a great reference work, The Two Babylons is no different. It is still just a book.

"To all my brothers and sisters in Christ who feel that finding Babylonian origins for present-day customs or practices is of great importance, my advice is to move cautiously in this area, lest we major in minors. If there are things in our lives or churches that are indeed pagan or displeasing to the Lord, they should be dealt with, of course. But in attempting to defuse the confusion of Babylon, we must guard against creating a new "Babylon" of our own making." (quoted from The Babylon Connection? - page 32.)

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2. PAGAN SYMBOLISM IN CHRISTIANITY

I have received numerous e-mails addressing the issue of pagan symbolism in Christianity. Feeling it best for those "seekers" who have come across my site to "search God's face" and make their own decisions; I hesitated at first to addressed these issues. After much reflection on some of the responses I had received, putting my two cents in for what ever that is worth, seemed more and more appropriate. So that is what I finally did, and wrote the following:

Sometimes we go too far: Paganism in Christianity

There is a danger that in our zeal we go to far and turn the proper use of the study of Christian apologetics into a religion that is not Biblical
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For further reading I recommend the following essay:

Where is Christ In Christmas?

Further Reading: "Some may say that it is wrong to try to hide Christmas’ pagan roots with Christian trappings. They insist that for a Christian to celebrate Christmas in the traditional manner, they must forsake Christ for a lie. I am not, however, convinced of this. For I believe that the pagans once knew the true God and how to worship him. They, like Abraham, were also descendants of the righteous man Noah and his godly family. They all originally were of one religion, one race, and one language. That, however, changed forever at the tower of Babel, when God confounded the languages of men and made them incapable any longer of communicating freely and easily together. This caused men to separate into distinct linguistic groups, which ultimately led to the many languages, races and religions we have on the earth today. Though many world religions are drastically different than Judeo-Christianity today, some still retain a few symbols and beliefs which are strikingly similar. It is possible, therefore, that many of the symbols associated with pagan religions had a Judeo-Christian meaning at the time of Noah, but these meanings were subsequently lost or obscured."

(quoted from read more external link by Helena McNeilly)

3. OUT OF CONTEXT! While surfing the Internet, I have came across sites that use Hislop's classic, The Two Babylons, as a foundation to support views advocating anti-Semitism, racism, debunking of the Biblical doctrine of the triune nature of God, etc. Such views are not supported by Hislop.

4. QUESTIONABLE ARGUMENTS? In writing The Two Babylons, Hislop in his passion and zeal for the subject and position he was advocating at times erred as all humans do by trying too hard to be convincing. Hislop writes as a man unquestionably convinced in every point he brings up and seems to expect his reader to do likewise. I hesitate way short of being unquestionably convinced of all of his conclusive arguments. Neither do I advocate a complete dismissal of The Two Babylons in it's entirety based on a number of however's.

These Points Are So Relevant, They Stand Repetition:

  • Hislop was well educated
  • A formal education of any kind in that era emphasized a good working knowledge of classical literature
  • His proximity to Edinburgh, especially at that time in history opened many doors and avenues of learning for him
  • His knowledge of classic literature, philosophy, etc. was not unusual for his time. Even the "average" well educated man of his time in some ways surpassed most modern students of today.
  • Hislop first handed out The Two Babylons in pamphlet form in Edinburgh in 1853, His subject and sources would have been "well known" to much of his intended audience
  • He studied his subject extensively.
  • His notes are extensive.

Hislop obviously spent much more time than most modern writer's and researchers today would on his subject. He studied his subject extensively. His notes are extensive. Doubtless, his proximity to Edinburgh especially at that time in history when a formal education emphasized a good working knowledge of classical literature, opened many doors and avenues of learning for him. His knowledge of classic literature, philosophy, Greek mythology ... like many of even the "average" well educated of his time in many ways far surpassed modern students of today. Lastly, Hislop first handed out The Two Babylons in pamphlet form in Edinburgh in 1853, His subject would have been "well known" to his intended audience.

Conclusions:

  • I do not question his ability to write on his subject as some have.
  • I do however question some of the hard and fast conclusions he makes.

He writes quite a bit on certain doctrines and traditional practices of the Roman Catholic Church and other Christian and Pseudo-Christian Religions not being Biblical. Some points I agree on. But then the word religion by it's very definition is not Biblical in that religion is man's attempt to reach God and save himself. Salvation comes only by God himself saving man. Salvation is by Grace not by deeds. God Himself provided The Way to Salvation and it is not by the workings of mankind. Remember the selfishness of Cain and his inability to understand. Remember you can do all the right things for all the wrong reasons; just as easily as you can do all the wrong things for all the right reasons.

I basically agree with Hislop on many things in the broadest scope of his arguments in regards to the Roman Catholic Church and various other Christian Religions and Pseudo-Christian Religions.

Reading The Two Babylons has impressed me not so much by Hislop's declamations against the Roman Catholic Church, though this was the purpose of his writing The Two Babylons. What impressed me is that here was one of the first books that I had come across examining how our most ancient ancestors had known of God’s promise of “the seed of a woman.” They had known of the earliest sections of the Bible and I found the implications staggering.

God's Promise Of "The Seed Of a Woman."

Just as the Bible indicates even in the beginning, but I did not fully realize it until the fact was pointed out to me and underscored, via my first reading The Two Babylons; our ancient ancestors had known of the promise of "the seed of a woman." They may have not fully understood, but they knew.

Books by Reverand Alexander Hislop:

  • Christ's Crown and Covenant: or national covenanting essentially connected with national revival (Arbroath and Edinburgh, 1860)
  • Infant Baptism, according to the Word of God and confession of faith. Being a review, in five letters, of the new theory of Professor Lumsden, as advocated in his treatise entitled, "Infant baptism: its nature and objects." (Edinburgh, 1856)
  • The Light of Prophecy let in on the dark places of the Papacy (exposition of 2 Thess 2: 3–12) (Edinburgh, 1846)
  • The Moral Identity of Babylon and Rome (London, 1855)
  • The Red Republic; or Scarlet Coloured Beast of the Apocalypse (Edinburgh, 1849)
  • The Rev. E.B. Elliott and the "Red Republic" (Arbroath, circa 1850)#
  • The Scriptural Principles of the Solemn League and Covenant : in their bearing on the present state of the Episcopal churches (Glasgow, 1858)
  • The Trial of Bishop Forbes (A lecture delivered in East Free Church, Arbroath) (Edinburgh, 1860)
  • Truth and Peace (in reply to a pamphlet, entitled "Charity and mutual forbearance" by "Irenicus") (Arbroath, 1858)
  • The Two Babylons; or, the Papal Worship proved to be the worship of Nimrod and his wife (Edinburgh, 1853 & 1858)
  • Unto the Venerable the General Assembly of the Free Church of Scotland : the petition of the undersigned (relates to James Lumsden on "Infant Baptism": Hislop was head signatory of this petition) (Edinburgh, 1860)