Q: Question: Have you read Gene Matlock’s book, “Jesus and Moses are Buried in India”? What do you think of his book? Does he make a case for the connection of Jews and Indians?
A: A brief critique of Gene Matlock’s “Jesus and Moses are Buried in India…” follows.
The title itself is a claim quite contrary to history and facts presented in other historical works. His preface to the book claims that his work is a shock to the nervous system. He claims that Jesus survived the cross, Moses was an incarnation of the Hindu deity Shiva and was once worshipped as a young bull named Baal. Now Moses is buried in Kashmir. “You’ll learn the above and hundreds of other easily verifiable truths in this book, which, at the time of this writing, is the most exhaustive, well-researched, and valid of its genre. In this book you’ll find the references after every quote.” (preface, xii)
The question remains if the shock of reading his book is from a careful and scholarly revealing of truth that contradicts the entire scholarly corpus to date, or if this shock comes from the strange and bizarre claims he is making. He says we should check out his references and his claims. OK.
I am going to use the “three strikes and you are out” approach to this book. Like in the American game of baseball, a batter is not allowed to stand there forever trying to make a hit on the ball as it is pitched to him. If three pitches go over the center part of the base and he does not hit the ball (or hits it foul), he is “out,” meaning he is no longer allowed a chance to hit the ball and score points. Because the claims of Matlock are so many, and because his claims are so unusual and contrary to accepted facts determined by scholarship at large, I am going to use this approach.
I am also going to hold him to his standard that he claims is so clear and strong in referencing other material. If he does not quote accurately, or uses a quote in a misleading or erroneous way, I will point this out.
On the first page of his first chapter, he begins making a case that Jerusalem was colonized by India. He immediately gives a citation. The citation is uncertain, as there is no publisher or date of writing given. He simply lists “The India We Have Lost,” by Paramesh Choudhury. His previous sentence is a quote from this book. Now I am not so much interested in affirming that his quote is from this book as I am in knowing who this person is and what his supporting data and reasons are for this claim. We are not told this. His second paragraph is another quotation from the same author, this time from the book, “From Kashmir to Palestine.” It is not clear at all why he cites this author. He seems to think this man is an authority on the subject. However, we are not given this man’s research or case, simply a quotation of what appears to be a conclusion. Why should I accept this extravagant claim? No reason is given.
The first two paragraphs make very controversial claims, do not provide the information from the quoted source that would have us follow the data and reasoning to a conclusion. Yet Matlock moves on as though he has given us a citation that is worthy of attention. He has made no case for his points and he has not allowed us to follow the case supposedly made by the authors he quotes. Strike one.
The second quoted author he turns to in the third paragraph is a heavy hitter of history, the Jewish author Josephus. Matlock begins with “In his History of the Jews, the Jewish scholar…” (p. 1 of Matlock’s book). There is a small problem already, for Josephus did not write a book named “The History of the Jews.” Perhaps he was in a hurry, or perhaps he felt the freedom to rename a book by Josephus, or perhaps he made a small error of no consequence. However, if you are going to try to follow what he states in the preface (“easily verifiable truths in this book”), you are not going to find this one easy. He then produces a quote: “…These Jews are derived from the Indian philosophers; they are named by the Indians Calani…” There is emphasis and bold added by Matlock which are not in the original. He says that Josephus wrote that the Greek philosopher Aristotle had said this quote. He gives the reference “Book I:22.” Here begins another problem. You will not find a book “The History of the Jews” by Josephus. You will find “Antiquity of the Jews” and “War of the Jews” which are histories. You will also not find his quote in either of these works. In another book by Josephus, “Against Apion,” you will find this quote, in book one and chapter 22. You might think to yourself that there is not harm and no foul for his incorrect reference in that it is in another work by Josephus and it does actually exist. However, I begin to ask myself questions. I wonder if he has actually read this section of Josephus for himself, or has merely cited it (incorrectly). This quote is important to get right. He is the one making a case of amazing consequence and implications. He is the one claiming that his book is well researched and easy to verify. So far, three paragraphs into his first chapter, I am doubting this and finding evidence to the contrary.
Is the quotation actually correct? Yes…and no. There is a quote by Josephus that reads very close to what Matlock has written. But the quotation is misleading. Matlock says that Josephus says that Aristotle said this. But that is not the case. Josephus is quoting a man named Clearchus who said that Aristotle said this. In other words, Josephus said that Clearchus said that Aristotle said.... This is not a very stunning case of original sources. It is more like hearsay. Josephus is merely reporting what he heard from one person about what another person said. We don’t know for certain if Aristotle said this, and we certainly don’t know if what Aristotle said is true, even if the report of his saying this is true. Yet again, Matlock is giving this reference as though it is a solid piece of evidence and a trustworthy reference for his case. And he gives the quote as though Josephus is quoting Aristotle, when he isn’t.
Here is the full quotation in context from “Against Apion.”
“For Clearchus, who was the scholar of Aristotle, and inferior to no one of the Peripatetics whomsoever, in his first book concerning sleep, says that "Aristotle his master related what follows of a Jew," and sets down Aristotle''s own discourse with him. The account is this, as written down by him: "Now, for a great part of what this Jew said, it would be too long to recite it; but what includes in it both wonder and philosophy it may not be amiss to discourse of. Now, that I may be plain with thee, Hyperochides, I shall herein seem to thee to relate wonders, and what will resemble dreams themselves. Hereupon Hyperochides answered modestly, and said, For that very reason it is that all of us are very desirous of hearing what thou art going to say. Then replied Aristotle, For this cause it will be the best way to imitate that rule of the Rhetoricians, which requires us first to give an account of the man, and of what nation he was, that so we may not contradict our master's directions. Then said Hyperochides, Go on, if it so pleases thee. This man then, [answered Aristotle,] was by birth a Jew, and came from Celesyria; these Jews are derived from the Indian philosophers; they are named by the Indians Calami, and by the Syrians Judaei, and took their name from the country they inhabit, which is called Judea; but for the name of their city, it is a very awkward one, for they call it Jerusalem. Now this man, when he was hospitably treated by a great many, came down from the upper country to the places near the sea, and became a Grecian, not only in his language, but in his soul also; insomuch that when we ourselves happened to be in Asia about the same places whither he came, he conversed with us, and with other philosophical persons, and made a trial of our skill in philosophy; and as he had lived with many learned men, he communicated to us more information than he received from us."
This is Aristotle''s account of the matter, as given us by Clearchus; which Aristotle discoursed also particularly of the great and wonderful fortitude of this Jew in his diet, and continent way of living, as those that please may learn more about him from Clearchus''s book itself; for I avoid setting down any more than is sufficient for my purpose. Now Clearchus said this by way of digression, for his main design was of another nature. (I.22)
The portion that Matlock quotes also has a small error in it, giving the word “Calani” instead of “Calami.”
Strike Two! So far I haven’t read even one page of this shocking treatise and we find Matlock nearly out.
In the fourth reference in the fourth paragraph of the book, Matlock gives a quotation where he says that “Clearchus of Soli wrote, “The Jews descend from the philosophers of India. The philosophers are called in India Calanians and in Syria Jews. The name of their capital city is very difficult to pronounce. It is called ‘Jerusalem.’”
There is no reference to this quotation. Is it a mere rewording of the quote he gives from Josephus? I don’t know. I do know this—that he gives a citation in quotation marks with no source or citation. Strike three. He’s out!
Just to give him a little bit more of a chance, let us assume that one of the swings he made tipped the ball into foul territory. In baseball this would allow the batter another swing at bat. Let’s move to the next page in his book, page two, the sixth paragraph. Here he cites the misspelled word from Josephus “Calani” as being derived from the Sanskrit “Kalyani” and being an ancient Greek word for the people of the port city of Kalyana, just forty six miles north of Bombay. This is a fascinating claim he makes. Now we are getting somewhere! This is a factual claim that can surely be verified. Two things should be explained: 1) that “Calani” is derived from the Sanskrit “Kalyani,” and 2) that this is a Greek word for the people of the port city of Kalyana just north of Bombay. However, he does not bother to show us that this is indeed true. He moves on quickly to say that archaeological remains in the area have proven that people have lived there (Kalyana) from about 3000 BC. No reference is given. Later in this same paragraph he quotes a man named “Kauleshwar Rai” as saying “The most important harbours were Sopara (Sophir) and Kalyan.” (p. 169).” No reference is given, no name of the book or journal or paper where he got this quote. However, he does point out something of linguistic import to us. He refers to the name of this mystery author and says, “Notice the eshwar or “Joshua” part of his first name.” I suppose he is making a linguistic case for this man, Kauleshwar Rai, apparently an Indian (?), having a name with Jewish origins. Is “eshwar” phonetically similar to “Joshua”? If they are, is this link actual proof of a historical link between India and the Jews? He is clearly making this suggestion. The reference and the linguistic evidence? Nothing. By the way, the name “Joshua” in Hebrew has been changed in English a little. The Biblical writing of this name would be eswhy and is the same as the name “Jesus.” It would be best pronounced in English, “Yehoshua.” I wonder if Matlock knew this when he points out the similarity of “eshwar” with “Yehoshua.” There is the “sh” that they share in common, and possibly the vowel “e.” That’s pretty slim to make an equivalence of two names.
Strike one—he does not give a reference that allows us to look up what he is citing, nor does he quote someone who has written with any recognized authority on the subject or antiquity near to the subject at hand.
Strike two—He says he is quoting Josephus who is citing Aristotle, when he isn’t. His citation does not even exist as a book written by Josephus, and the though the quote does exist, there are two problems with it. First, Josephus is not citing Aristotle. Josephus is citing Clearchus who is citing Aristotle. Second, he does not get the word “Calami” right, but gives it as “Calani.”
Strike three (foul ball)—he cites Clearchus of Soli as though this is a source, when it is not. There is no reference given. It seems to be that he is merely rewording the quote of Josephus where Josephus quotes Clearchus who says that Aristotle said….
Strike three – a series of unsubstantiated or explained claims from “Calani” being derived from Sanskrit, to it being a Greek word for the people of a city north of Bombay called ‘Kalyana.’ Remember, there is uncertainty that he has even quoted the word correctly as Josephus does not say “Calani” but “Calami.” This is a big strike three and definitely disqualifies him from the game. He continues by not citing any reference for supposed archaeological evidence. Most strange is a link between an author he cites (no reference!) and the insinuation that his name (Kauleshwar Rai) contains a Jewish morphological portion “eshwar” that is related to the Jewish name for “Joshua.” They aren’t related.
In a quick scan of the next few pages, I see a continuation of the same radical claims without references, giving links between languages based on some sound equivalence in the English language, racial and national links that are unsubstantiated, etc.
There is a reason scholars have standards. Matlock is a great example of why they demand them. Unfortunately his book is an example of a work that does not meet them. Anyone can make claims. Anyone can weave theories. If they cannot do this responsibly and in a way that demonstrates credibility, they often simply fan the flames of speculation.