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A stunning foray
on 13 June 2002
Whilst this book does indeed have some factual errors.., as well as a few others, they are relatively minor. Nowhere does the author claim an expertise in Hebrew, and any researcher can be betrayed by one of his sources. Finally, most experts in this field do not, in fact, speak fluent Hebrew, let alone fluent Aramaic, but their pronouncements are nevertheless held as divine truth.
I am still reeling from reading this book and the new possibilities it presents.
Whilst the connection between ancient Hebrews and an Egyptian attempt at monotheism has been speculated upon for nearly 60 years, the connection with Edom, which is fully elucidated by a text excluded from the Old Testament, is a very significant advance in the appreciation of the origin of Judaism.
Furthermore, the hypothesis that ancient Judah and Israel were practising different strains of the same religion, the Israelites having an older and more iconic rite, the Judean creed being newer, more fanatical and iconoclastic, offers stunning possibilities in the interpretation of relations between two states, as well as the portrayal of ancient Israel in the Bible (given that it was subsequently written down by its religious rivals).
This hypothesis neatly explains the gaps in the tightly woven substance of the books of Joshua and Judges - and I look forward to reading the "lost" book of Jasher now that I am alerted to its existence.
I am not at all offended by the conjecture in this book. I've read and heard too many professional historians utter complete untruths as if they were physical fact. If you studied Persian, Byzantian or Russian history some twenty years ago, your education is likely to contain considerable distortion according to current teaching.
If you had studied Phoenician history at all, most of what you were taught was written by its bitter enemies, and it will not stand closer scrutiny once the interminably slow digging at Carthage and Lebanon starts paying off.
At least, in this book the conjecture is understood to be such.
Unfortunately, professional historians have another problem with Biblical material - becoming mired in religious controversy is a very poor way to preserve tenure, as the reprehensible story of the Dead Sea scrolls shows only too well.
This is where Graham Phillips comes in - he may not have the benefit of professional training or access to materials, but he doesn't need to worry about the sensibilities of fanatics or their cynical brethren who thrive on an industry of their making.
Of course such books should be read with scepticism and, if one is sufficiently motivated, look further into the material.
I congratulate the author on the depth of his thought and his originality and hope that he has the energy to pursue this topic, so very important and so very mismanaged by orthodox historians.