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3.8 out of 5 stars
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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.
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on 24 November 2005
For me, the book makes certain things add up that didn’t seem to add up before. The Moses Legacy doesn’t go about dealing directly with the difficulties of the Old Testament but it pulls on a lot of evidence and ideas gathered from many sources – archaeology in particular. It leaves a lot of questions unanswered but explains how (frustratingly) so much evidence has been destroyed. As a result, many of the arguments are presented as ‘on the balance of probability’, rather than fact. The reader is presented with the evidence that has been found and possible explanations. But these arguments are generally quite convincing possibilities.
The evidence and information gathered by Phillips is presented rather like a thesis. It pulls together the work of many scholars, researchers, archaeologists and makes their research accessible. Although I read the book in a week, I didn’t read it cover to cover. I repeatedly found myself asking, “Hang-on, how does that fit in with what was said in the last chapter?” or ...”on the map section?” and returning to check and compare details with other evidence. Also, “Well I’d like to see the full scroll from which you took that quote.”
The book is a fascinating look at historical and religious events. The result is a story about the beginnings of a ‘One God’ religion that could well be the true story of how all modern ‘One God’ religions began. And 13 Tribes of Israel, rather than 12 answers a few questions but certainly complicates matters as well. How exciting!
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on 15 July 2004
I note with interest that one reviewer questions the findings of this book because of the author's use of the Book of Jasher as a source. I agree that we cannot place too much credence in a source of which so many versions exist. (I believe the one Graham Phillips used is a nineteenth-century translation.) However, most of Mr. Phillips' book compares Bible verses - not the Book of Jasher - with archaeological discoveries to show that the plagues of Egypt really occurred, that Mount Sinai was a real mountain and that Moses was an historical figure. In this respect he has done an excellent job. I may not agree with all his conclusions, but I consider this book to be a milestone in biblical research.
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on 25 May 2015
Having spent much of my life reading and teaching about the Bible I found, after reading this book, myself to be in a state of shock at how much I had missed or been mistaken about. This book opened up whole new horizons for me in a way no other work has done by even the most eminent scripture scholars. Amongst these new perspectives I would mention:
1. The significance of the volcanic eruption of Thera (c1360BCE) for the Bronze Age world. Located as it was in the epicentre of the Aegean and the civilized world its cataclysmic effects have been charted before on material and social life. However, its effects on mental states and spiritual understanding must have been equally profound but now much harder to chart. Phillips does a great job in exploring this vein in the context of the dramatic changes in Egyptian belief - with the emergence of Atenism - and the events surrounding the Exodus, all of which it explains in a totally new light. Also post volcanic effects credibly explain all the plagues of Egypt.
2.The careful exegesis which suggests that Moses is in fact a composite figure from two other identifiable and historical Egyptian figures. This compliments our understanding of the whole of the Pentateuch being a composed from multiple literary strands as suggested by Bishop John Colenso and whose work, 'The Pentateuch and Joshua Critically Examined', shocked and scandalised Victorian society, as well as ruining his career. A theme also taken up by the more influential German scholar Julius Wellhausen
3. The significance of Edom and the Edomites in the history of the Jewish people. Usually viewed as something of a sideshow to the main theatre of events in Israel and Judah, Phillips helps us to see that this was far from being the case either politically or spiritually.
4. The real location of the sites connected with Moses and the Exodus. Phillips credibly pieces together the evidence that this is totally at odds with the traditional location of Mt Sinai (a location originally dreamt up by the Emperor Justinian) and the wilderness of Paran but located at sites around the vicinity of the city of Petra, which is far more ancient than the Nabeteans. Phillips credibly identifies the location of the tomb of Moses and even his staff with which he smote Pharaoh and cleft the Dead Sea - who would have thought it would finish up in Birmingham Museum!

In all Phillips helps us to unpack the biblical myth and penetrate the reality it obscures with the artifice of afterthought and polemical intent. Though one is still left with some reservations.
1. The cult of Aten was not so much shaped by previous Jewish beliefs of a putative handful of 'slaves' but the other way round. This radical belief system and view of the world had its own roots in the sophisticated world of Egyptian gnosis (to use a later word) and clearly influenced some biblical reflection on the nature of God.
2. The Kuntillet fragment of potsherd from about 800BCE found at Horvat Teman (which Phillips does not mention but which is in the locality he identifies to be The Mountain of the Lord, Horeb), clearly shows Yahweh and his consort indicating him to be a tribal deity and variant mountain storm god (Baal). A contemporaneous inscription found near Hebron which reads, "Blessed be Yahweh my guardian and his Asherah (consort)" supports this reading. This is very different from the monotheistic interpretation which would later be placed on the understanding of this god, in the light of a reconjectured Mosaic revelation on Sinai.

The 'God' that Phillips is looking for which underpins the three monotheistic faiths and western civilization is a later creation of the Hellenistic period and owes its confection to Zoroastrian and Greek though - but that's another story.
All in all, a book which is a great revelation in itself and a prompt to further thought.
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on 26 October 2013
Having read 3 others of Phillips books. And, having read Templars and the Ark of the covenant, I'm finding this one a little repetitious. Phillips has used much of the same information {word for word} from the latter book in this one.
What is interesting tho', is hi different slant on actuality of events. Whilst accepting who he proposes Moses could have been. is concept of where the actual Mt Sanai is located does not agree with biblical or other archaeological information.
Still, he is a great read and sets one thinking.
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on 30 July 2007
In many ways the follow up book to Phillips' Atlantis and the Ten Plagues of Egypt (or Act of God by its UK name). I gave this three stars as I feel that this lacked something. I've become a fan of Phillips recently, partly due to his unique brand of historical detection, and his ability to take the reader on an exciting journey of discovery. This book seemed different and lacked the usual excitement.

Phillips' is not a professional historian or biblical scholar, and so his works should be read alongside more scholarly, or academic, works. What Phillips provides is a good "alternative" to the mainstream and gets you thinking and wanting to know more, stirring an interest in difficult subjects.

As the title of the book implies, this is about Moses. However, the reader will be surprised that only one chapter is used to examine Moses' possible identity. I would have liked more on this subject. Phillips argues that he was two men, separated by about a century or so - a priest called Kamose, and Akhenaten's elder brother Tuthmosis. Personally I found this unlikely. If Moses was an Egyptian or part of the establishment then Tuthmosis would be the best bet, but I'm in favour of Moses being an individual Hebrew.

What the book really is about is the origin of God, or the origins of monotheism, specifically the Abrahamic religions. This takes Phillips in to interesting topics such as the Mountain of God (the one he identifies as such seems as good as any other proposed); a possible thirteenth tribe of Israel known as the Edomites; the reasons for the rivalry between Judah and Israel in the Old Testament; a processional link from Atenism, Judaism, the Essenes, the Edomites and possibly Christianity; the Book of Jasher which suggests an alternative version of events and Hebrew religion; Kabbalism and the rod of God. It is quite a lot to put in a book and gives the impression of the author going off at different tangents and not sticking to the purpose of the book.

All in all, I'd recommend this book to those who are interested in biblical history, but also balance it up a bit with the works of historians and scholars.
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on 28 May 2002
The Moses Legacy
When I was given this book as a present I could not wait to read it. Attractively presented, it promised to provide authoritative answers - or at least up-to-date research results - for questions which are bound to be of interest to anyone wishing to learn about the history of the Judaeo-Christian religions. Readers without much previous knowledge of this subject, and especially readers without any knowledge of Hebrew, will greatly enjoy the book and will think they have learned much from it, even if they may be somewhat surprised by such statements as 'The present Old Testament comes from a Greek translation known as the Septuagint' (p.23).
Any readers with even an elementary knowledge of Hebrew, however, will find themselves in a very different position. To them it will soon become clear that the author does not have any knowledge of that language, though he does not hesitate to base much of his argument on detailed interpretation of Hebrew words he does not understand or misunderstands One single paragraph on p.115, for instance, contains at least four separate such misinterpretations.
In itself this flaw obviously undermines some of the book's argument, but a moment's reflection will show that its effect goes much further. Even fewer readers than those who have some Hebrew will be familiar with any of the other ancient oriental languages used in the argument of the book, and once the author's Hebrew knowledge is shown to be non-existent it is no longer possible to place any confidence in his knowledge of these other languages - and thus in the conclusions of his whole argument.
A health warning is most needed where that which is to be avoided is most attractive and at the same time most dangerous. By these criteria this book needs to be accompanied by a very large health warning.
Alfred Moritz
Former Professor of Classics, University of Cardiff
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on 16 July 2015
Graham Phillips is definately on to something. The idea that "Moses" was actually two different individuals would explain a lot. Phillips' theories about the Egyptian roots of Judaism are worth thinking about and the rivalry between Israel and Judah does in fact seem to be the key to understanding the Old Testament. However...there is rather too much reliance on the so-called Book of Jasher which most authorities agree is a fairly modern forgery. While Phillips makes his case so well the truth appears to have been hidden in plain sight all along, the fact that he also claims to have solved the mysteries of the Ark of the Covenant, the Holy Grail, Atlantis and the authorship of Shakespeare's plays seems (to me at any rate) to weaken his credibility rather than to strengthen it! Having said that, if you are interested in ancient history and/or the Bible, this book will probably make you change your mind about a few things.
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on 13 March 2015
I found both this book and "Act of God" to be both interesting and well-written. As other reviewers have found, the books are thought-provoking and do a great job of making the bible "real".

However, checking and double-checking the facts as presented by Mr Phillips, I found that there is a tendency in places to make the "facts" fit his theories. The result is that I find myself with a slightly different version if events.

My biggest problem is with the version of the "Book of Jasher" used by Mr Phillips. I have two versions - neither of which agree with his version. As far as I can ascertain, his version does not exist - which calls into question the quality of information presented in these books.

If you have the time and energy to check everything he talks about, then - yes! - read these books. They are fascinating. But do not rely on them alone.
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on 11 June 2011
Like most books of this type, the theories it proposes are highly speculative but interesting. The problem is that this is an area where one theory I pretty much as good as another but seldom better. The people he nominates are credible candidates for "Moses" - but no more so than many others. In fact, Adam Palmer's recent thriller - also called The Moses Legacy - offers a more plausible candidate, even managing to link his theory to a famous Papyrus Salt 124 at the British Museum.

Another interesting feature of this book is that it draws in the so-called Book of Jasher (in Hebrew Sefer Hayashar or "The Book of the Straight"). This is a notional manuscript referred to in the Book of Joshua, but for which no genuine known copies exist. There have been several documents from the seventeenth and nineteenth centuries that purport to be the Book of Jasher, but they are "translations" and modern documents. The one that Philips seems to rely on was published in Utah, and the Mormon influence is clearly present in that "translation".

More impressively, Philips delves into the Israel/Judah divide (as indeed does Palmer) which is consistent with modern theories about the Bible such as the Documentary Hypothesis and Higher Criticism in general. But the author is not a scholar in the ancient languages used in those manuscripts and this makes him more of a popularizer than a true scholar.

In conclusion then, an interesting read but not a definitive answer to the question of who was the real Biblical Moses - if indeed that question can be answered.
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