Academic journal article Journal of Religion and Popular Culture

Meme Splicing Genesis 6:1-4 and the Apocalypse of 2012

Academic journal article Journal of Religion and Popular Culture

Meme Splicing Genesis 6:1-4 and the Apocalypse of 2012

Article excerpt

For some, scientific curiosity is not always a good thing, a lesson learned by Harry Goodman in James BeauSeigneur's fictional Christ Clone Trilogy. After all, scientific enquiry leads Harry to recover DNA from drops of blood on the famed Shroud of Turin. Genetic engineering made it possible to clone an individual from that recovered DNA. Does this lead to the return of Jesus Christ on earth, or a debunking of the divinity of Christ? Neither happens; rather, these events set into motion the advent of the Antichrist and the onset of the apocalyptic end of days.

Many cultural products in recent years have warned humanity about the pitfalls of scientific endeavours such as genetic engineering. While films such as Splice (2010) and Species (1995), and books such as Danielle Steele's The Klone and I (1998) are not as cosmic in scale as the Christ Clone Trilogy, such products still reflect cultural anxiety regarding these issues. Anxieties regarding the genetic sciences, coupled with apocalyptic thought, have coalesced into a curious argument that at times invokes the Bible and speculation about the year 2012. At first blush, the Bible passage Genesis 6:1-4 (which tells the story of the mating of the sons of God with the daughters of men), genetic engineering, and apocalyptic year 2012 speculation make an eclectic triumvirate. However, the apocalyptic imagination is able to make sense of these connections through the influence of conspiratorial thought, which specializes in making obscure connections and which often proves to be an important component of apocalyptic thinking.

In Arguing the Apocalypse: a Theory of Millennial Rhetoric (1994), Stephen O'Leary offers a theoretical framework that suggests how Genesis 6:1-4, the year 2012, and genetic engineering may become linked in the apocalyptic imagination. He states, "Apocalyptic functions as a symbolic theodicy, a mythical and rhetorical solution to the problem of evil ... its approach to this problem is accomplished through discursive construction of temporality" (O'Leary 1994, 14). Among the threads that bind the seemingly disparate subjects examined in this article, Genesis 6:1-4 and year 2012 apocalyptic scenarios are both theodicy and an effort to grapple with time. Connecting Genesis 6:1-4 with the year 2012 paradoxically collapses both the near future and the distant past while expecting the relentless forward linear thrust of time ending in the throes of a coming destruction. Hillel Schwartz speaks of millennial subjects as embodying the French proverb "Reculer pour mieus sauter," or, "Backing up so as to leap ahead" (2006, 118). Indeed, the subjects of this work, authors of "apocalyptic alternative history" (1) who see in Genesis 6:1-4 clues to our apocalyptic future, follow a venerable model established by various religious groups who have maintained that looking backward facilitates looking forward. In doing this, authors such as Thomas Horn, I.D.E. Thomas, Patrick Heron, and L.A. Marzulli use a rhetorical strategy that relies upon constructing an authoritative mode of interpretation; a self-described "literalist" reading strategy; and a rhetoric of conspiracy to produce an apocalyptic vision whereby certain portions of the Bible are combined in an improvisational millennial stew. Other important ingredients in this stew are a healthy suspicion of scientific endeavours such as cloning and a milieu informed by speculation about the year 2012.

Among those looking back in order to see ahead are recent authors of apocalyptic alternative history who see in Genesis 6:1-4 clues to our apocalyptic future during (or near) the year 2012. Recent titles are revealing, including Thomas Horn's publications Nephilim Stargates: The Year 2012 and the Return of the Watchers (2007) and Apollyon Rising 2012: The Lost Symbol Found and the Final Mystery of the Great Seal Revealed (2009), and Patrick Heron's 2005 publication titled The Nephilim and the Pyramid of the Apocalypse, all of which are concerned with the Nephilim of Genesis 6:4. …

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