I realize that astrology and the Zodiac today is something that God would
not condone, but I heard some argue that the Zodiac was originally a
biblical concept that was corrupted during the time of the tower of Babel.
Is there any proof supporting this claim? ;Also, in my Rome and Jerusalem
class, we were looking at many Synagogues and even some first century
churches that had the Zodiac chart in them. Why is that? It seems odd that
this pagan religion would have found its way into these places of worship
if there was no biblical backing at all.
Your assumption that reliance on astrology is sinful is correct. Anyone
who claims that astrology was originally a biblical idea had better supply
some evidence for this claim! To say that biblical ideas of the Zodiac
were corrupted during the time of Babel is to create an anachronism.
There was no Bible at the time of the tower of Babel. Probably the tower
of Babel events occurred some time before 2000 BC, while the first
biblical writings are probably from the 1400’s BC or later (it is possible
but not proven that Job predates this). Bottom line, astrology predates
Judaism so could have not have been produced by Judaism.
Archaeological evidence supports the idea that the Zodiac and astrology
were a creation of the Sumerians/Babylonians. There is some evidence that
these Mesopotamian cultures were the first to recognize the separate
existence of planets. I am not a sufficient expert to say that they
created the idea of the twelve points in the Zodiac, although this would
make sense to me, given both their number system and their knowlege of
astronomy. All these ideas predate the writing of the Bible.
Again, if anyone wants to claim that the Bible supports the use of
astrology, they had better produce some evidence.
Now, you point out what is absolutely true, which is that there is
evidence that the Jews incorporated the Zodiac into their cosmology and
their thinking. Believe it of not, it is not sinful to use the Zodiac per
se. The Zodiac was a way to keep track areas in the sky and to create
calendars. Having a Zodiac sign may not necessarily signify the use of
astrology. Simply finding one of the signs of the Zodiac in a Jewish
Synagogue does not prove that they were practicing astrology. However, I
believe that there is significant evidence that some of the Jews took this
too far–that they indulged in astrology (Jeremiah 8:2). Given that
archaeological digs in Israel produce copious evidence of Baal, Ashtoreth,
and many other kinds of idolatrous worship, it would be surprising if
Israel had NOT indulged in astrology.
Any claim that first century churches had Zodiacs or evidence of astrology
is clearly unsupportable. The early church did not have churches. The
earliest known church building was at Euro-Euphrates during the third
century AD. Perhaps you misheard your teacher, or perhaps your teacher is
Pagan religion has found itself into our vocabulary as well. The first
month of our calendar is January, which is named after Janus, a pagan
Roman god. Easter is named after Ishtar, a Near Eastern pagan god. The
mere existence of a zodiacal sign or the use of zodiacal vocabulary does
not tell us much. Did your professor provide evidence that the early
Christians actually practiced astrology? I doubt it. Did he or she show
that some of the symbolism was used, just as we use pagan symbols all the
time without giving credence to belief in astrology, probably.
John Oakes, PhD