The Savior of the World
In Ehrman's ebook Did Jesus Exist?
, he mentions me several times and attempts to dismiss my research through ridicule and smears. Of course, Ehrman made no effort to contact me at all - I am easily found and answer questions all the time.
I'm sure I will respond to everything he spews against me, but right now, let me just address the following smear and falsehood on his part, which he makes in connection with the image in my book The Christ Conspiracy
of a bronze statue of a cock with a phallus for a nose, styled "Savior of the World." Quoting me first, he says:
"'Peter' is not only 'the rock' but also 'the cock,' or penis, as the word is use as slang to this day." Here Acharya shows (her own?) hand drawing of a man with a rooster head but with a large erect penis instead of a nose, with this description: "Bronze sculpture hidden in the Vatican treasure [sic] of the Cock, symbol of St. Peter" (295). [There is no penis-nosed statue of Peter the cock in the Vatican or anywhere else except in books like this, which love to make things up.]
In the first place, Erhman's writing is rudimentary, and he includes a typo: The word should be "treasury." Secondly, he apparently couldn't even be bothered to check the reference I included there for the image, which I assuredly did not draw myself. (The comments in the (parentheses) and [brackets] above are Ehrman's, although one wonders why he uses both.) A smear, no doubt, to go along with his conclusion that books like mine "love to make things up." This statement itself is simply puerile. My book doesn't "love" anything, and I have carefully cited almost everything in it. Unlike Ehrman, I don't have any editors, so there are typos in my book. He should not have any excuses, however, for his sloppiness. Apparently, his editors and legal department don't have a problem with libeling someone as "laughable" as me.
The image in question is referenced to "Walker, WDSSO
." If you go to the Bibliography - that's something one would think "real scholars" (Ehrman continually plays the credentialism card to make me appear unintelligent and unqualified) could do without any assistance - you will find a citation of Barbara G. Walker's The Woman's Dictionary of Symbols and Sacred Objects
. If Ehrman had bothered to follow up in his exhaustive "research," he would have discovered the Peter-cock image in Walker's book, on p. 397
It is no coincidence that "cock" is slang for "penis." The cock was a phallic totem in Roman and medieval sculptures showing cocks somehow transformed into, or supporting, human penises. Roman carvings of disembodied phalli often gave them the legs or wings of cocks. Hidden in the treasury of the Vatican is a bronze image of a cock with the head of a penis on the torso of a man, the pedestal inscribed "The Savior of the World." The cock was also a symbol of Saint Peter, whose name also meant a phallus or male principle (pater) and a phallic pillar (petra). Therefore the cock's image was often placed atop church towers.
Again, so much for Ehrman's "scholarship" in which he cannot even trace a citation and read for himself but instead implies I just made it all up.
Frankly, Walker's writing sounds far more scholarly and intelligent than does Ehrman's. Moreover, Walker cites the image as "Knight, pl. 2." Following up in a scholarly fashion, we look at the bibliography by Walker, to discovery the book in question:
Knight, Richard Payne. A Discourse on the Worship of Priapus
. New York: University Books, 1974.
Consulting an earlier edition of Knight's book, we find on p. 32 a discussion of the object
...the celebrated bronze in the Vatican has the male organs of generation placed upon the head of a cock, the emblem of the sun, supported by the neck and shoulders of a man. In this composition they represented the generative power of the EROS, the Osiris, Mithras, or Bacchus, whose centre is the sun. By the inscription on the pedestal, the attribute thus personified, is styled The Saviour of the World..., a title always venerable under whatever image it be presented.
Here Knight references the image as "Plate II. Fig. 3." Turning to the back of the book, around p. 263, we find the image, which is hand-drawn because of its age, printed when photography was still not entirely feasible for publishers.
On page 35, Knight mentions the "celebrated bronze" again:
...Oftentimes, however, these mixed figures had a peculiar and proper meaning, like that of the Vatican Bronze...
Another source, Gordon Williams in A Dictionary of Sexual Language and Imagery
(258), comments about this artifact:
The relationship of cock and phallus is ancient. A bronze bust in the Vatican Museum, bearing the Greek inscription "Redeemer of the World" (Fuchs, Geschichte der Erotischen Kunst [Berlin 1908] fig. 103), is given a cock's head, the nose or beak being an erect penis.
Doing our scholarly due diligence, we find the pertinent figure in Fuchs on p. 133
Hot on the trail, we find more information in Peter Lang's Privatisierung der Triebe?
(1994:203) about the "small bust known as the Albani bronze, still housed in the Vatican's secret collection..." There, we read further: "Its plinth is inscribed 'Saviour of the World' in Greek, and it is possibly of Gnostic import."
In another mention of the "notorious Albani bronze said to be held in the Vatican Museum," we learn that such Rome phallic representations are called priapi gallinacei
. (Jones, Malcolm, The Secret Middle Ages
, 75) As we can see, this bronze image is "celebrated" and "notorious," which means many scholars have written about it.
Even though I obviously did not make up the image, which I cited and which is obviously known in scholarly circles - nor was I erroneous in reporting that the figure is housed in the Vatican - Ehrman continues his smear by remarking:
In short, if there is any conspiracy here, it is not on the part of the ancient Christians who made up Jesus but on the part of modern authors who make up stories about the ancient Christians and what they believed about Jesus.
Again, not only did I not make anything up, but everything is carefully cited for the most part (not as much as my later books, but certainly my research is better even in CC than is Erhman's in the book in question, as we can see from his shoddy "scholarship" here).
Instead of resorting to erroneous contentions and unprofessional ridicule, one would think that a "real scholar" would be curious about this artifact and actually do the due diligence, rather than simply dismissing it with libelous remarks.