Alexander Hislop (born Duns, Berwickshire, 1807; died Arbroath, 13 March 1865) was a Free Church of Scotland minister known for his outspoken criticisms of the Roman Catholic Church. He was the son of Stephen Hislop (died 1837), a mason by occupation and an elder of the Relief Church. Alexander's brother was also named Stephen Hislop (lived 1817–1863) and became well known in his time as a missionary to India and a naturalist.
Alexander was for a time parish schoolmaster of Wick, Caithness. In 1831 he married Jane Pearson. He was for a time editor of the Scottish Guardian newspaper. As a probationer he joined the Free Church of Scotland at the Disruption of 1843. He was ordained in 1844 at the East Free Church, Arbroath, where he became senior minister in 1864. He died of a paralytic stroke the next year after being ill for about two years.
He wrote several books, his most famous being The Two Babylons: Papal worship Proved to be the worship of Nimrod and His wife.
The Two Babylons
This book was initially published in 1853 as a pamphlet, then greatly revised and expanded and released as a book in 1858. Hislop's work has been described as conspiracy theory propaganda which mixed "sketchy knowledge of Middle Eastern antiquity with a vivid imagination."
He claimed the Roman Catholic Church was a Babylonian mystery cult, and pagan, whereas Protestants worshipped the true Jesus and the true God. He contended that Roman Catholic religious practices are actually pagan practices grafted onto true Christianity during the reign of Constantine. At this point, he alleged, the merger between the Roman state religion and its adoration of the mother and child was transferred to Christianity, merging Christian characters with pagan mythology. The Goddess was renamed Mary, and Jesus was the renamed Jupiter-Puer, or "Jupiter the Boy".
Hislop's theory was that the goddess, in Rome called Venus or Fortuna, was the Roman name of the more ancient Babylonian cult of Ishtar, whose origins began with a blonde-haired and blue-eyed woman named Semiramis.
According to Hislop, Semiramis was an exceedingly beautiful woman, who gave birth to a son named Tammuz, was instrumental as the queen, and wife of Nimrod the founder of Babylon, and its religion, complete with a pseudo-Virgin Birth. This he called a foreshadowing of the birth of Christ, prompted by Satan. Later, Nimrod was killed, and Semiramis, pregnant with his child, claimed the child was Nimrod reborn.
Hislop claimed that the cult and worship of Semiramis spread globally, her name changing with the culture. In Egypt she was Isis, in Greece and Rome she was called Venus, Diana, Athena, and a host of other names, but was always prayed to and central to the faith which was based on Babylonian mystery religion.
Then, according to Hislop, Constantine, though claiming to convert to Christianity, remained pagan but renamed the gods and goddesses with Christian names to merge the two faiths for his political advantage, under Satan's guidance.
Though Constantine had been exposed to Christianity by his mother, Helena, there is no consensus among scholars as to whether he adopted his mother's Christianity in his youth, or gradually over the course of his life, and he did not receive baptism until shortly before his death. Whatever the case, Constantine's endorsement of the tradition was a turning point for Early Christianity. In 313, Constantine issued the Edict of Milan legalizing Christian worship. The emperor became a great patron of the Church, and set a precedent for the position of the Christian Emperor within the Church and the notion of orthodoxy, Christendom, and ecumenical councils that would be followed for centuries as the State church of the Roman Empire.
- The Two Babylons by Alexander Hislop (online)
- Ralph Woodrow, The Babylon Connection?, 1997, ISBN 0-916938-17-4 (critique from former advocate).
- Genealogical page on Jamie Hayter's family history site Note: shows different date of birth for Alexander Hislop - clarification being sought
Books by Alexander Hislop
(Sources of information include COPAC )
- Christ's Crown and Covenant: or national covenanting essentially connected with national revival (Arbroath and Edinburgh, 1860)
- Infant Baptism, according to the Word of God and confession of faith. Being a review, in five letters, of the new theory of Professor Lumsden, as advocated in his treatise entitled, "Infant baptism: its nature and objects." (Edinburgh, 1856)
- The Light of Prophecy let in on the dark places of the Papacy (exposition of 2 Thess 2: 3–12) (Edinburgh, 1846)
- The Moral Identity of Babylon and Rome (London, 1855)
- The Red Republic; or Scarlet Coloured Beast of the Apocalypse (Edinburgh, 1849)
- The Rev. E.B. Elliott and the "Red Republic" (Arbroath, circa 1850)#
- The Scriptural Principles of the Solemn League and Covenant : in their bearing on the present state of the Episcopal churches (Glasgow, 1858)
- The Trial of Bishop Forbes (A lecture delivered in East Free Church, Arbroath) (Edinburgh, 1860)
- Truth and Peace (in reply to a pamphlet, entitled "Charity and mutual forbearance" by "Irenicus") (Arbroath, 1858)
- The Two Babylons; or, the Papal Worship proved to be the worship of Nimrod and his wife (Edinburgh, 1853 & 1858)
- Unto the Venerable the General Assembly of the Free Church of Scotland : the petition of the undersigned (relates to James Lumsden on "Infant Baptism": Hislop was head signatory of this petition) (Edinburgh, 1860)
- Ewing, William: Annals of the Free Church of Scotland 1843–1900 (Edinburgh, 1914)
- The Monthly Record of the Free Church of Scotland, 1 April 1865, Obituary
- "Hislop, Stephen". Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900.
- Smith, George: Stephen Hislop, Pioneer Missionary & Naturalist in Central India from 1844 to 1863 (London, 1888)