French Government Consulted Biblical Studies Prof. Over Bush’s Views on “Gog and Magog”

In September 2007, a magazine published by the University of Lausanne (UNIL), Allez Savoir, ran an article by Jocelyn Rochat entitled “George W. Bush et le Code Ezéchiel”. It can be seen here; it begins:

Quand il évoque la situation politique au Proche-Orient, le président des Etats-Unis voit Gog et Magog à l’oeuvre. Deux créatures qui apparaissent dans une vision apocalyptique de l’Ancien Testament! Les explications de Thomas Römer, un expert de l’UNIL qui a été contacté par l’Elysée en 2003, quand Jacques Chirac cherchait à élucider les références troublantes de George W. Bush.

The story explains how Thomas Römer, a Biblical scholar at the university (and now at the Collège de France), had been contacted by the Elysée in 2003 to explain the significance of “Gog and Magog”, two Biblical names that had been mentioned by George Bush in conversation with Jacques Chirac during Bush’s efforts to persuade France to support the Iraq war. The book of Ezekiel uses these names to signify Israel’s enemies in an apocalyptic battle. A journalist for La Liberté wrote a short piece based on the article; this was translated into English and posted to a few fringe websites, but didn’t receive a great deal of attention. Now, however, the story has come to fresh attention with the publication of a new book, written by Jean-Claude Maurice and entitled Si vous le répétez, je démentirai…: Chirac, Sarkozy, Villepin. An extract can be seen here:

George Bush Jr. a utilisé un argument singulier, affirmant que… «Gog et Magog sont à l’oeuvre au Proche-Orient» et que «les prophéties bibliques sont sur le point de s’accomplir»

Apparently, Chirac was “stupéfait”, and the author claims that the enquiry was made to Lausanne, in Switzerland, to prevent any leak. According to an article about the story on Counterpunch, Chirac “wondered how someone could be so superficial and fanatical in their beliefs”. Counterpunch  adds that Bush is also reported to have said

 This confrontation is willed by God, who wants to use this conflict to erase his people’s enemies before a New Age begins.

However, that line does not appear in the extract; it would have been nice to have had a specific page number for something so dramatic.

GQ recently ran a story showing that Bush had at one stage been provided with briefing papers on Iraq containing Biblical verses (general exhortations rather than prophecies); conversely, however, a new book by John Mickelthwait and Adrian Wooldridge entitled God Is Back includes the claim that in 2000 Bush characterised Christian conservatives “those whackos”, when asked whether his promotion of free trade with China might cost him the religious vote. It’s not necessarily a contradiction – he may have meant arch-conservatives who were likely to vote third-party, and he may not consider relating Biblical prophecy to current events as belonging to  the “whacko” category.

Ronald Reagan is famously said to have seen conflict with the USSR in Biblical and apocalyptic terms, based mainly on a reported private remark made in 1971. However, it seems that this was more of a “pop belief” than a serious theological conviction; during his terms of office he rejected the idea of an inevitable nuclear holocaust, despite the popularity of such a belief among American Christian premillennialists.


4 Responses

  1. Charles Dyer has republished his book “The Rise of Babylon” with a new cover in the light of Saddam Hussein’s demise. Now its Osama Bin Laden who gets the front cover… See

    And there is more of the same here: and here

  2. Now its Osama Bin Laden who gets the front cover

    Shameless! I wonder who’ll be next?

  3. […] Gog and Magog with such intensity in conversations with Jacques Chirac that the French government hired a Biblical scholar to explain to them just what the American president was talking […]

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