After yesterday's exciting attack from Philip Coppens, I'm feeling a bit lazy today. So, in honor of that, I thought I'd share another example of how alternative writers aren't just bad at science but are also bad at writing. Here is a sample of Erich von Däniken being a lazy, sloppy writer. The text on the left comes from his 1997 book The Return of the Gods, while the text on the right comes from his 2009 book Twilight of the Gods:
I could continue with the duplication, but you get the point.
The order of information, sentence structure, and exact wording clearly shows that the two passages are the same, probably differing only due to different translators working on nearly-identical German text. Not reproduced here is the footnote to Millar Burrows' Mehr Klarheit über die Schriftrollen (1958) located in the same exact position in both passages, marked with an asterisk above. The book is actually a German translation of the American scholar's analysis of the Dead Sea Scrolls, New Light on the Dead Sea Scrolls.
I have written about our erstwhile author's attempts to explicate this passage before, but I will add a bit more detail here. Von Däniken relies on Burrows' translation of the Genesis Apocryphon, which attempted to fill in the gaps in a badly damaged manuscript. In so doing, Burrows introduced some material that is not present in the extant scroll. However, at the time von Däniken wrote in 1997 (and more so in 2009), this early attempt at a translation--with its many conjectures and errors--had been superseded by more scholarly versions, additions, and emendations published in 1966, 1971, 1984, 1991, 1992, 1994, 1995, and especially 1997. A modern translation was published again in 2005, and the most recent in 2009. Von Däniken still calls it the Lamech Scroll rather than the Genesis Apocryphon because that was Burrows' name for it, abandoned by scholars after Avigad and Yadin published their 1988 edition.
I mention this only to show that there is no good reason von Däniken should be wrong about the text. The fact is, the text is too heavily damaged in the essential section to draw the conclusion that space aliens implanted "seed" in the "womb" of Lamech's wife, making Noah a space alien. The most recent translation can be found here and demonstrates this fact. In the surviving text, the lines actually seem to say that Noah was "not" from the "sons of Heaven, but from Lamech." And again, Enoch says: "Go, say to Lamech your son, 'The child is truly from you and not from the sons of Heaven...'" But, as I said, the text is too damaged to make much sense of the context.
All of which is beside my main point: Erich von Däniken recycles his own work word-for-word in blatant and unacknowledged acts of self-plagiarism and then charges his readers for the privilege by promoting each recycled book as "new" content. Von Däniken is as poor a writer as he is a researcher, and his dishonesty extends not just to his theory but to his presentation of it.
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I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Esquire, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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