A Review of Ahmed Osman’s
Out of Egypt. The Roots of Christianity Revealed
Damien F. Mackey
[Dr. Norman Simms of the University of Waikato sent me a copy of this book, asking me to write a review of it. This, my review, was originally published in his publication, The Glozel Newsletter, No. 5:1 (ns), 1999, pp. 1-17. The following is a slight variation of this].
Part I: The Chosen People
It is heartening to find scholars more and more appreciating the importance of the east – Egypt being especially relevant here – in influencing ancient and modern civilisations. M. Bernal (The Black Athena, 1987) has taken a big step in this direction. Before him, Professor A. Yahuda (The Language of the Pentateuch in its Relation to Egyptian, 1933), perhaps setting the ball rolling, had shown in minute detail – against ‘pan Babylonianism’ – that the entire Pentateuch (first 5 books of the Bible) is saturated with Egyptian influence: e.g. the distinct parallel between Egyptian mythology and the patriarchal narratives of the Bible. Along these lies, Bernal has referred to M. Astour’s view that the Greek story of Io-Zeus-Hera closely resembles the Semitic one of Hagar-Abraham-Sarah (op. cit., 91).
Now Ahmed Osman, an Islamic author from Cairo, has brought a twist to this recognition of the east by proposing some astounding identifications in his latest book, Out of Egypt (a reference to Matthew 2:15), in his attempt to show that the roots of Christianity are to be found, not in Israel, but in Egypt. Osman states the aim of his book when making reference to the destruction of the great library of Alexandria by Christians in AD 391 (op. cit., xii, my emphasis):
“As a result of this barbaric killing of Alexandrian scholars and destruction of its library, which contained texts in Greek of all aspects of ancient wisdom and knowledge, the true Egyptian roots of Christianity and of Western civilization have been obscured for nearly 16 centuries. The aim of this book is to rediscover these roots, with the help of new historical and archaeological evidence”.
He goes on to write (next page): “The time has come for Egypt’s voice to be heard again”. And he believes that he is the man for the job: “Because of my Islamic background, I feel confident that I am qualified to offer a balanced picture, which does not exclude any source from examination”. Osman’s main sources are the Dead Sea Scrolls from Qumran (Dead Sea) and the Gnostic literature of Nag Hammadi (Upper Egypt).
Perusing Osman’s book as a revisionist historian, I find it fascinating that he has located David and Solomon precisely where Immanuel Velikovsky did, to the early 18th dynasty of Egypt. No doubt Velikovsky’s 18th dynasty revision (Ages in Chaos I & II) was his main achievement, that will stand in pyramid-like strength after much else of his historical revision has collapsed under the weight of scientific criticism.
The 18th dynasty is also Osman’s entire showcase, encompassing all of his major characters. However, nowhere in his book do I find reference to Velikovsky or any other of the well-known revisionist historians. Osman either has not been influenced by Velikovsky at all, or perhaps does not bother to mention him because Osman retains the conventional dating of the early-mid 18th dynasty, instead of lowering it by the 500-600 years that Velikovsky had maintained was necessary.
More radical still – and even the most intrepid revisionists would baulk at this one – is Osman’s lumping together of Abraham, Joseph and Moses, into the same 18th dynasty scenario with, not only David and Solomon (his Part I: the Chosen People), but even with Jesus (his Part II: Christ the King); thereby totally ignoring customary chronological spacings. According to Osman, the 18th dynasty characters: Thutmose III, Amenhotep III, Yuya, Akhnaton and Tutankhamun, are to be identified as, respectively: David, Solomon, Joseph, Moses and Jesus Christ. Thus, once traditional heroes of Israel – even a great father-figure like King David – are now transmogrified into Egyptian (or, in Yuya’s case, a Syrian). Osman’s excuse for so radical a bouleversement seems to be that he is the one best suited to rediscover “the true Egyptian roots of Christianity and of Western civilization”.
Well, I believe that he has gone about it all in a most biased fashion. I cannot see how Osman – himself a followed of both Sothic dating and Higher Critical view – can possibly escape the label of anti-semitism (here meaning anti-Israel) as described in my earlier TGN article (“Velikovsky and Academic Anti-Semitism”). Osman is guilty of historical piracy, ‘hijacking’ famous Israelites into an Egyptian environment and ‘forcing’ Egyptianhood upon them. But that is an old trick – the Greeks had done it (in favour of Greece) long before him. Whilst admittedly the revision that has grown out of Velikovsky’s efforts can be at times radical, its protagonists are generally careful not to up-end established sequences. Much of the revision revolves around the more plausibly allowable, like deleting ‘Dark Ages’, or shortening artificially over-stretched eras (such as Egypt’s Third Intermediate Period). Velikovsky in fact lost many supporters when he, flying in the face of hard archaeological evidence, had indulged in such a radical up-ending by separating the 18th from the 19th dynasty (sequentially) and inserting in between foreign dynasties of 150 years duration (In Ramses II and His Time, and Peoples of the Sea).
Though Osman certainly becomes most interesting when he departs from the conventional norm, this is only the case when he does so with some sort of coherence. He correctly maintains that his country, Egypt, exerted an influence upon biblical and Christian thinking. However, as I intend to show, he does not appear to have properly understood what he has rightly sensed. He tries to force his examples; thereby missing Egyptian influences that really are there, whilst creating ones that are not. The Sothic chronology lets him down badly, exacerbating his mishmash. Osman proposes David as an Egyptian pharaoh of the C15th BC, who impregnates Sarai. And, taking his cue from the Babylonian Talmud (Osman, op. cit., p. 12), he recklessly makes David the father of Isaac. Despite his avowed aims, Osman lets himself down by his failure to appreciate the relevance of Egypt’s Old Kingdom; his lack of perspective regarding the 18th dynasty; but, most of all, by his anti-Israel bias. He locates the era of the Exodus to the 19th dynasty (New Kingdom), Late Bronze Age.
Comment: Professor Emmanuel Anati, a genuine archaeologist, has argued authoritatively (The Mountain of God, p. 287) that the entire socio-political setting of the Moses story and Joshua’s Conquest pertains to the Old Kingdom/Early Bronze Age.
That is centuries earlier than even the 18th dynasty.
Osman adopts the view that the books of Genesis and Exodus were very late compilations (cf. pp. 1, 12 & 66), having been long handed down by oral tradition before being committed to writing during the Babylonian Exile (C6th BC).
Comment: Here I should like to suggest, following P. Wiseman (Ancient Records and the Structure of Genesis), that the eleven toledôt divisions throughout Genesis: “These are the generations of …” – as well as the regular occurrence of catch-lines – attest Genesis to be a compilation of family histories written on series of tablets, each history signed off by its owner or writer. The toledôt is the classic colophon of ancient Near Eastern writings, but unfortunately read by most as a heading instead of an ending. The Book of Genesis claims to be a combination of histories for the great patriarchs, from Adam to Joseph. Moses is traditionally its compiler or editor, hence the Egyptian flavour of the entire book.
He does not give to the biblical date the same credence as he applies to his other sources: Qumran and Nag Hammadi.
Comment: Osman really butchers the biblical chronology, showing scant respect for genealogical data and ensuing time spans.
He makes AD 391 a crucial, cutting-off point, his point de depart.
Comment: He completely ignores what could be a vital fact, that the library of Alexandria may have been totally destroyed by the Romans at the time of Cleopatra, centuries before AD 391. Julius Cæsar is supposed to have started that fire, to cripple the royal fleet (Dio Cassius 42. 38. 2).
Osman writes that the storehouse of old wisdom in Alexandria’s Serapeum (op. cit., xiii):
“…proved irresistible for Diodorus Siculus … when he set out in the time of Julius Cæsar, to research his ambitious Bibliotheca Historica – the ‘bookshelf of history’. Diodorus, who was an enthusiast of the teachings of Hermes Trismegistus (which have survived until today in the teachings of Islamic Sufis, Jewish Qabbalah, Rosicrucians and Freemasons), became convinced of Egypt’s importance as a source of knowledge”.
The Serapeum, he writes on the next page, “later became also a center for Gnostic communities, both Hermetic … and Christian”. As I argued in a previous TGN (“Rediscovering the Egyptianised Moses”, No. 4:6, 1998), Hermes was the Greek version of the Egyptianised Moses. Also, Freemasonry is, like ancient Baalism, a syncretism of Yahweh and Baal. In Pt. II of this article, “Christ the King”, I shall comment further on Hermeticism and Gnosticism.
No doubt revisionists reading Out of Egypt would be thinking that they could propose identifications far more appropriate for the biblical characters with whom Osman deals, especially Joseph (ses #4 below); identifications, too, that leave intact detailed genealogies.
- David = Thutmose III
Osman ‘becomes a revisionist’ when proposing that pharaoh Thutmose’s capture of “Kadesh” via the narrow “Aruna” road was actually an assault upon Jerusalem (al-Quds – Kadesh) itself. This is an instance (about the only one) of where he really grabbed my attention; not only because he too has suspected that the Davidic era pertained to the early 18th dynasty, but because his interpretation of Aruna had already been proposed and strongly defended by Velikovskian modifier, Dr. Eva Danelius (“Did Thutmose III Despoil the Temple in Jerusalem?”, SIS II, 1978, 64-79), after Velikovsky had laid the groundwork by identifying Thutmose III as the biblical pharaoh “Shishak” who sacked the Jerusalem Temple in the 5th year of king Rehoboam of Jerusalem (I Kings 14:25) (Ages in Chaos, I, ch. iv). [Note: No need here for Israelites to be turned into Egyptians]. Velikovsky’s “Shishak” argument was ingenious, showing in small detail that the bas-reliefs on the walls of Thutmose’s Karnak Temple, and the illustrations in the tombs of his officials, are ‘snap shots’ of the treasures of the Temple of Yahweh and of king Solomon’s palace.
But Velikovsky rather spoiled his own argument by holding to the conventional view that the My-k-ty of the Egyptian Annals was Megiddo in northern Israel. Danelius really saved this whole package by identifying My-k-ty as Jerusalem itself (i.e. “Miqdash”), the capture of which was compared by Thutmose to “the capture of a thousand cities” (Breasted, Ancient Records of Egypt, II, #432). And she plausibly identified all three roads debated as to their appropriateness by Thutmose’s staff as roads in southern Palestine. The Aruna road that Thutmose eventually elected to take – the road most dreaded by his officers – was in fact the narrow and precipitous camel-road from Jaffa up the Beth-horon ascent approaching Jerusalem from the north. In the time of David it led to the threshing-floor of Araunah the Jebusite (hence Aruna); in the time of Rehoboam it led to the Temple Mount, “Har Kodsho” (i.e. Kadesh).
Osman has come to the same conclusion, that Aruna refers to the Beth-horon pass. But, with his unfortunate identification of Thutmose III with David, instead of the far more plausible “Shishak”, he has introduced an unwieldy ‘baggage-train’ onto that narrow route.
- Solomon = Amenhotep III Another crucial peg in Velikovsky’s reconstruction was his identification of the biblical Queen [of] Sheba as Queen Hatshepsut, co-ruler with Thutmose III. Osman passes over this fabulous queen in a couple of pages (op. cit., 20-21), having far more to say about the influential Queen Tiye – whom Velikovsky had cleverly shown to have been the prototype of the tragic Queen Jocasta of the Greeks (in Oedipus and Akhnaton). Osman identified Tiye all at once as – if I am still following him – Joseph’s daughter, Solomon’s “Great Royal Wife”, and Moses’ mother. According to standard biblical chronology, Tiye would have to have lived in excess of 800 years to have met all of these criteria. Meanwhile Velikovsky’s reconstruction of the Solomonic age had its own hiccups. He had ventured to identify Hatshepsut’s 9th year expedition to Punt with the visit to Jerusalem by Queen Sheba, but revisionist Dr. J. Bimson (in “Hatshepsut and the Queen of Sheba”, SIS, Vol. VIII, 12-26) eventually destroyed this argument; so effectively in fact that many ‘Velikovskians’ who had already been badly shaken by Velikovsky’s proposed separation of the 19th from the 18th dynasty, now even abandoned Velikovsky’s 18th dynasty matrix and began to explore new chronologies. I re-addressed the whole issue for C&CH Review (“Solomon and Sheba”, 1997:1) and may have salvaged Velikovsky here due to the fortuitous discovery (as I see it) of King Solomon himself in the Egyptian records, in the person of the mighty and seemingly royal Senenmut; a dominant figure during the co-reign of Hatshepsut and Thutmose III. Senenmut tells us (P. Dorman, The Monuments of Senenmut, 1988, 175): “I was in this land under [Hatshepsut’s] command since the death of [her] predecessor …”. That, combined with Senenmut’s information that his name “is not to be found amongst the annals of the ancestors” (J. Baikie, A History of Egypt, Vol. II, 80), suggested that he was not originally from Egypt. A further possible hint that Senenmut was non-Egyptian were his “idiosyncracies in regard to the Egyptian language: the uncommon substitution of certain hieroglyphs” and his penchant for creating cryptograms, e.g., in relation to Hatshepsut’s throne name, Makera (Dorman, 138, 165). Velikovsky did not miss the point that Queen Sheba was known as Makeda in Ethiopian legend; a name almost identical to Hatshepsut’s throne name, Makera. (So at least I am not blatantly transforming an Israelite into a well-established Egyptian). The visit of Sheba/Hatshepsut to Solomon was essentially connected I think with her marriage to king Solomon, occurring while Hatshepsut was yet queen. She would soon become Pharaoh. Senenmut, who had unique prerogatives and who was favoured with many titles, came to dominate Egypt at this time, despite the presence there of formidable personalities like Hatshepsut and Thutmose. Most historians would agree with Baikie’s view (op. cit., 81) that Senenmut “was by far the most powerful and important figure of [Hatshepsut’s] reign”, and R. Hari’s, that few non-royal [sic] personages in pharaonic Egypt “have caused as much ink to flow as has Senenmut” (“La vingt-cinquième statue de Senmout” JEA 70, 141). The fact that his statues and inscriptions are still so abundant in Egypt is all the more remarkable considering the campaign of destruction that was waged against his monuments after his death. But historians are not able to outdo the self-praise in which Senenmut himself (or his scribe) indulges in his statues. “I was the greatest of the great in the land …”, he announces on one (Baikie, op. cit., 80-81). Due to Solomon’s profound influence on Sheba/Hatshepsut, the harsh administration of Israel (cf. 1 Kings 5:13f.) spilled over into Egypt. Her country, we are told, “was made to labour with bowed head for her …” (Breasted, A History of Egypt, 271. Emphasis added to second quote). And, not surprisingly, Senenmut was the one whom she appointed in charge, “I was a foreman of foremen”, he tells us, “… overseer of all the works of the house of silver [treasury?] …. I was one to whom the affairs of [Egypt] were reported; that which South and North contributed was on my seal, the [forced] labour of all countries was under my charge”. As Solomon, Senenmut’s labour gangs spread into Egypt and other countries. Given Senenmut’s tutelage over the young Thutmose, I am not surprised – but rather grateful – to read where Osman has picked up marked similarities between Solomon’s taxation system and that of Thutmose III (op. cit., 57-58).
Israel’s wisdom literature – much of which is attributed to David and Solomon – began to be reflected in Hatshepsut’s Egypt. I compared some of Hatshepsut’s inscriptions with Psalms, Song of Songs, and other Scriptures; and I followed Baikie (op. cit., 89) in noting that Hatshepsut had reproduced one of David’s Psalms (131 Vulgate; 32 Jerusalem Bible) almost word for word in places, though substituting “Karnak” for “Jerusalem”. Stratigraphiclly, the prosperous and internationalized Late Bronze I-II seems to reflect the opulence of this time. Thus there is no problem whatever with Osman’s correct assertion, in favour of his own reconstruction (op. cit., 18): “Indeed, no such empire [as David’s] can be said to have been created between the reign of Tuthmosis [Thutmose] III in the 15th century BC [sic] and the second half of the 6th century BC, when Cyrus of Persia conquered both Mesopotamia and Egypt”.
The unexpected discovery of Solomon in the Egyptian records seems to have further cemented Velikovsky’s 18th dynasty scenario. The revision is now able to cope with the formidable trio of Hatshepsut, Thutmose III and Senenmut, all in a biblical context.
A spin-off from this identification is that the exceedingly wise Solon of Greek folklore who went travelling by ship for a decade, notably to Egypt, for mercantile purposes, is most likely a Greek appropriation of the wise Solomon in the latter part of his reign, when he involved himself in foreign affairs and his fleet. There are strange anomalies with Solon as a C6th BC Athenian. Archaeology does not seem to favour so advanced a civilisation that early at Athens (see e.g. P. James Centuries of Darkness, 96-98). E. Yamauchi (“Two Reformers Compared: Solon of Athens and Nehemiah of Jerusalem”, The Bible World, 262-292). Found it doubtful if money was yet coined there, as Solon is supposed to have done; and he also, following Cyrus Gordon (another great pioneer defender of the east), has identified Solon’s reforms as Jewish, paralleling Nehemiah’s. All of this strongly suggests that Solon was not Greek at all.
The phenomenon that was Senenmut is perhaps explained only by the revision. Akhnaton likewise is a phenomenon, and Osman goes to great lengths to explain him.
- Moses = Akhnaton
Akhnaton stands out as a singular individual throughout the history of Egypt, and it is not surprising therefore that scholars are intrigued by him. Osman is no different, he being prepared to turn chronology upside down to equate Akhnaton with Moses. Osman is not the first to have noted a likeness between Akhnaton’s Hymn and Psalm 104, indicating a close contemporaneity between Akhnaton and David – but this can better be met by Velikovsky’s scheme according to which el-Amarna (Akhnaton’s era) is to be re-located to the C9th BC.
And I think that Velikovsky’s equation of Akhnaton with the legendary Oedipus more than adequately accounts for the Pharaoh’s personal idiosyncracies. As for Moses, there is no need to repeat here all that I wrote about him in TGN, identifying him as Mycerinus/Sinuhe of the Old/Middle Kingdom of Egypt. What I could add perhaps is Sir Flinders Petrie’s comment about Sinuhe (Egyptian Tales, 129. Emphasis added): “The titles given to [Sinuhe] … are of a very high rank, and imply that he was the son either of the king or of a great noble. And his position in the queen’s household shows him to have been of importance … quite familiar [with the royal family]”.
The Talmud, Osman says, holds that Moses was a king (op. cit., 68).
My full EA revision can be read in my post-graduate thesis on King Hezekiah, at:
Perhaps Velikovsky’s finest reconstruction was his detailed comparison between the EA letters of Amenhotep II and Akhnaton and the mid-C9th BC. Describing himself as if a Time Lord, with “the searching rod … of time measurement” in his hand, Velikovsky declared (Ages in Chaos, I, 224): “I reduce by six centuries the age of Thebes and el-Amarna, and I find King Jehoshaphat in Jerusalem, Ahab in Samaria, Ben-Hadad in Damascus. If my rod of time measurement does not mislead me, they are the kings who reigned in Jerusalem, Samaria and Damascus in the el-Amarna period”.
In TGN (4:45, 1988, 4) I summarized Peter James’ stunning modification. James was far more able to accept Velikovsky’s identifications of EA’s Abdi-Ashirta and Aziru – successive kings of Amurru – with the biblical succession of Ben-Hadad I and Hazael of Syria (“The Dating of the El-Amarna Letters”, SIS 2:3, 1977/78, 80. Emphasis added): “With [these] two identifications [Velikovsky] seems to be on the firmest ground, in that we have a succession of two rulers, both of who are characterised in the letters and the Scriptures as powerful rulers who made frequent armed excursions – and conquests – in the territories to the south of their own kingdom ….
And John Bimson clinched this by adding a third Syrian king, Ben-Hadad II, the Du-Teššub of the Hittite records. (“Dating the Wars of Seti I”, SIS, 5:1, 1980/81, 21-22).
I think that we may be able to salvage Velikovsky even further by finding his cherished Ahab, not in his choice of Rib-Addi (clearly a Phoenician king), but in EA’s Labayu (possibly also Ayyab). “In most scholarly works Labayu is referred to as the king or ruler of Shechem”, wrote D. Rohl and B. Newgrosh, adding “and this, we feel, has been misleading” (“The El-Amarna Letters and the New Chronology”, C&C Review, 18, 1988, 23-42). Since Shechem is only a few miles from Samaria, I suggest that Labayu ruled from there.
Was Labayu a Hebrew speaker?
EA 252, written by him, has been described by W. Albright as “no less than 40% pure Canaanite” (“An Archaic Hebrew Proverb in an Amarna Letter from Central Palestine”, JNES 89, 1943, 29-32); a comment that has evoked this response from Rohl and Newgrosh: “It is a pity that Albright was unable to take his reasoning process just one step further because, in almost every instance where he detected the use of what he called ‘Canaanite’ one could legitimately substitute the term ‘Hebrew’.” Albright indetified the word nam-lu in line 16 as the Hebrew word for ‘ant’ (nemalah). Labayu wrote: “If ants are smitten, the do not accept (the smiting) quietly, but they bite the hand of the man who smites them”. Albright recognised here a parallel with the two biblical proverbs (6:6 & 30:25). King Ahab likewise was inclined to use a proverbial saying as an aggressive counterpoint to a potentate (cf. 1 Kings 20:10,11).
Labayu’s son, too, Mut-Baal (my choice for Ahab’s son, likely Jehoram) also displayed in one of his letters (EA 256) some so-called ‘Canaanite’ and mixed origin words. Albright noted of line 13: “As already recognized by the interpreters, this idiom is pure Hebrew”.
“Son of Zuchru”
Velikovsky also identified king Jehoshaphat’s captain, “son of Zichri”, with EA’s “son of Zuchru” (Ages, I, 228-230). Who could argue with that!
Velikovsky had ingeniously identified the only female in the EA correspondence, Baalat-neše, with the biblical “great woman of Shunem”, whose son Elisha restored to life (2 Kings 4:8-37) (ibid., 220). But I think that, given Baalet-neše’s undoubted rank, a likelier candidate for her would be Ahab’s notorious wife, Jezebel (i.e. Neše-bel-[at]). Jezebel’s seal, incidentally, has been found.
Kingdom of Mitanni
Many historians – though not Osman, who passes it over in one page (op. cit, 56) – have puzzled long and hard over the so-called ‘Kingdom of Mitanni’ that figures in EA correspondence. What were its origins? Where was it located? Its language – as with the name of its best-known king, Tushratta or Dushratta, who wrote to the EA Pharaohs – is thought to be Indo-Iranian. But once again the revision may provide the key to unlock the enigma. DUSHRATTA would simply be a variant of the name, Abdi-Ashirta (i.e. AbDU-aSHRATTA). He is Ben-Hadad, Ahab’s contemporary. The name therefore is probably not Indo-Iranian at all, but West Semitic; the last element being the name of the Canaanite goddess Ashtarte. The name DU-TEŠŠUB is a similar construction, substituting for Ashtarte the storm-god Teshub. The mysterious ‘Kingdom of Mitanni’ turns out to be simply the extensive Syrian kingdom of Ben-Hadad I and Hazael, a buffer state between Assyria and the Hittites.
- Joseph = Yuya
Osman maintains that Joseph was the highly credentialled Yuya, Syrian relative of Akhnaton. (For a full revised account of Yuya, though, see my thesis at http://kinghezekiahofjudah.blogspot.com/). Yuya, like Joseph, he states, was the only official in Egypt ever to be called “Father of Pharaoh”. And he optimistically claims that the details of Joseph’s life after his interpreting Pharaoh’s dreams “are matched by only one person in Egyptian history – Yuya, the minister of Amenhotep III (ibid., 39). But again Osman’s apparent ignorance of pre-18th dynasty Egyptian history lets him down. Professor A. Yahuda (op. cit., 23-24) had already found the equivalent title, “Father of Pharaoh” in Old Kingdom Egypt; the Genesis expression, ab, ‘father’, a title borne (centuries before Yuya) by the Vizier, Ptah-hotep, who was itf ntr mryy-ntr, ‘father of god, the beloved of god’; god here indicating Pharaoh. Now, since Ptah-hotep was also a wise sage, whose writings resemble the Hebrew Proverbs, and since he – like Joseph – lived for 110 years, then it is worthwhile considering that Ptah-hotep was Joseph in his guise as scribe and sage.
Osman’s identification of Joseph is a classic example, I think, of where revisionists would think that they could easily trump him. T. Chetwynd, for instance (in “A Seven Year Famine in the Reign of King Djoser with Other Parallels between Imhotep and Joseph”…” C&AH, 1987, 49-56), has found numerous parallels between Joseph and the celebrated Vizier, Imhotep, of the 3rd dynasty (Old Kingdom), who supposedly saved Egypt from a 7-year Famine. Dr. D. Courville (The Exodus Problem and its Ramifications, I, Ch. XI. 1971) has synchronized the famine of Imhotep’s and Pharaoh Zoser’s time with a famine of the 1st dynasty.
Note: This makes it very likely that the 1st dynasty Pharaoh, Usaphaidos – in whose name I seem to discern the Hebrew Yusef (Usaph-aidos?) – is again Joseph. Appropriately, that same Pharaoh was nicknamed Khasty, meaning “foreigner”. Courville’s preference for Joseph though was the Middle Kingdom’s Vizier, Mentuhotep, whose account of himself, Breasted thought, “read like the declaration of the king’s powers”. History, 166. This choice may still be valid, considering the necessary synchronism between the Old and Middle Kingdoms. Im-hotep, Ptah-hotep, Mentu-hotep, may be one and the same person, as referred to in different parts of Egypt: Im (Heliopolis?); Ptah (Memphis); Mentu (Thebes).
Imhotep, who according to J. Hurry (Imhotep, 90) was “one of the few men of genius in the history of ancient Egypt … one of the fixed stars of the Egyptian firmament”, is portrayed as a kind of ‘Leonardo da Vinci’ of Egypt: mathematician, scientist, engineer, architect. He was more besides. Carved on the base of a statue of Zoser in the Cairo Museum is a short inscription describing Imhotep as: “The seal-bearer of the King of Lower Egypt … the high priest of Heliopolis … the chief of the sculptors, of the masons …”. Imhotep has also come down through history as a thaumaturgist, healer and Egyptian patron saint of medicine.
Joseph also, according to Yahuda (op. cit., 24), would have been of the high priestly caste” of Heliopolis – like Imhotep. Chronologically, 3rd dynasty Imhotep is perfectly situated in relationship to my 4th dynasty Moses = Mycerinus connection.
Ancient ‘Greek’ Philosophy
Another spin-off; students when first introduced to the history of ancient philosophy are invariably taught that the ‘Ionian Greek’, Thales, was the “First Philosopher”.
And soon after they encounter another so-called ‘Ionian Greek’, Pythagoras, who was supposedly the first to use the word ‘Philosophy’. ‘Both’ of these sages are thought to have spent time in, and to have been much influenced by, Egypt. But we have already read of Io (Ionian) being dragged from its Semitic context into a Greek one, and so perhaps the exceptionally wise Thales and Pythagoras were one and the same ‘Philosopher’ (or ‘lover of wisdom’) based on the sage Ptah-hotep (Thales being Ptah-[les]; Pythagoras being Ptah-[agoras]): the wise Joseph (cf. Genesis 41:40). Young Thales the prototype of absent-minded professors, who fell into a well while observing the stars; who predicted the rise of the Nile; and who foresaw an exceptionally good crop through the knowledge of the stars, is none other than Joseph the dreamer, whose brothers made ‘fall’ into a well after his dream about the sun, moon and stars, who predicted seven good and seven lean years involving the rise and fall of the Nile.
Comment: Quite ironical therefore may be M. Glouberman’s observation, in favour of so-called ‘Thalean rationality’, that “… Thales forecast the bumper crop by observing climatic regularities, not by interpreting dreams of lean kine and fat …”. In “Jacob’s Ladder. Personality and Autonomy in the Hebrew Scriptures”, Mentalities/Mentalités, 13: 1-2 (1998), 9.
Thales’ supposed prediction of an eclipse in 585 B.C. “marks the birthday of western science”, and what moderns find especially appealing is that Thales seems to have been a proponent of the ‘rational’, non-religious approach. M. Glouberman (ibid.) calls it “… a Hellenic Götterdämerung, the demise of an earlier mode of thought …”. But O. Neugebauer (as referred to by A. Burn, The Pelican History of Greece, 1965, 127), astronomer and orientalist, has completely knocked on the head any idea that Thales could possibly have foretold such an eclipse. The ‘eclipse’ of Thales is perhaps only a reminiscence of Joseph’s dream of an eclipse by himself of his own family – his father (sun), mother (moon), brothers (stars); all bowing down in homage to him (Genesis 37:9,10). The Egyptian connection is again evident in the legend that Thales measured the height of the Great Pyramid, which may well be a case of transference from Imhotep who was in fact a pyramid builder, who built the very first pyramid, the Step Pyramid; a material icon, perhaps, of his father Jacob’s vision of the ladder, or double-staircase, reaching to heaven. Likewise, the great Pythagorean contribution to mathematics (numbers, geometry, triangles) may reflect the designs of Imhotep the architect of Egypt.
Thales asserted that the world originated in water and was sustained by water and that the earth floated on water (cf. Heliopolitan cosmology & Genesis 1:6).
Pythagoras, like Joseph, left his home country and settled in a foreign land, founding a society with religious and political, as well as philosophical, aims, which gained power there and considerably extended its influence. (Is this a reminiscence of Israel’s multiplying and spreading out from the land of Goshen?) After his death, a serious persecution took place, from which the survivors scattered (the Oppression, and the Exodus?). For Pythagoras, religion and science were two aspects of the same integrated world view. The whole life of the Pythagoreans was ordered with a view to following God. Purity was to be sought in abstention from the flesh (cf. Joseph and Potiphar’s wife, Genesis 39:7-20). Pythagoras, like Imhotep, underwent a kind of canonization in Ptolemaïc times, becoming a patron saint of medicine.
The history of ancient philosophy may need to be re-written from the top.
Really, the presence of Israelites in positions of great power even in Old Kingdom Egypt is my answer to Osman’s belief in the Egyptian roots of the Chosen People. It was in fact a Hebrew influence that permeated Egypt and then came back to Israel.
Would not Jacob have carried all of the treasured toledôt scriptures of his forefathers into Egypt, where they would have been handed on to the influential Joseph? He, as priest of Heliopolis and Vizier of Egypt, would have preached them to the Egyptian people. The theology of Heliopolis became pre-eminent in the land. Imhotep-Joseph was one of the real geniuses of Egyptian history.
Now we are beginning to understand why the early Old Testament reflects such an Egyptian influence. Some of its writers, Joseph, Moses and Solomon, were also key figures in Egypt’s destiny. Strictly speaking, the influence was from the side of Israel. Thus, Osman might have found rather more fertile subject matter had he chosen to write about Israel’s influence, rather than Egypt’s, upon ancient to modern culture.
But his prejudices weighing against that may be too strong.
Part II: Christ the King
… one should … expect the chronological earthquake caused by Velikovsky to be still transmitting aftershocks right down the line, so as to plunge late BC events into an AD time frame.
Predictably, now, Osman tries to ‘pour’ the Holy Family also into an 18th dynasty matrix; with Jesus as Tutankhamun; Mary as Nefertiti; and Joseph as the Vizier, Aye. Here again one encounters the emergence of various questionable patterns of argument that clearly and strikingly parallel those in Part I. Osman again:
– places a blind trust in the conventional chronology and archaeology.
Comment: Whilst the historical era of the four Gospels, once revised, might – and only might – turn out to be relatively more clear cut by comparison with events in early Egyptian dynastic history, one should nevertheless expect the chronological earthquake caused by Velikovsky to be still transmitting aftershocks right down the line, so as to plunge late BC events into an AD time frame. Moreover if Solon really is Solomon, as I maintain, and the ‘Ionian’ philosophers actually have their origin with Old Testament Joseph, and Athenian archaeology is not properly established before the late C5th BC, then Classical history – Greek, and Roman too – must stand in need of significant revision. Of course I would not expect Osman to be able to produce a new model just like that. My problem with him is that he so uncritically embraces conventional late BC dates (e.g. for Herod and Pilate) as “the established historical facts” (Out of Egypt, 110). Chronologically, Osman seems to work hand in glove with Hershel Shanks, editor of the influential Washington-based magazines Biblical Archaeological Review and Bible Review, of whose conclusions I was so critical in The Glozel Newsletter (No 4:2, 1998).
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– he treats with contempt the four Gospels.
Comment: Osman’s refusal to consider the Gospels as being significant eyewitness records is to my mind another classic example of what I noted in Pt. I, that not a shred of credibility ought to be conceded to the writings of Israel. He seems unaware of the new papyrus discoveries from Egypt and Qumran that, according to German papyrologist, C. Thiede (Eyewitness to Jesus, Doubleday), call for an earlier dating of all four Gospels.
[According to the article “Thiede’s Witness”, in The Wanderer (June 12, 1997), this book is now very hard to find. Is there being applied by the academic world a “Conspiracy of Silence” (to use the title of Osman’s ch. 17) in the case of Thiede? And of Carmignac (see below)].
Shanks’ reaction to the new scholarship is the typically off-handed sort to which entrenched academics must resort whenever they cannot cope with the facts (Wanderer, ibid.): “Highly regarded scholars are often reluctant to spend the time it takes to debunk these far-out claims”. It is not time they lack, but answers.
An ironical note: I doubt if the Egyptian-oriented Osman would be over-impressed by the fact that: “… Hershel Shanks puts Thiede in the same category as those cranks who claim that Jesus was not Jewish but Egyptian”.
Thiede’s conclusions may not be mainstream, but they accord nicely with those of expert linguist, J. Carmignac (The Birth of the Synpotic Gospels, Franciscan Herald Press, 1984), who discovered many links with the New Testament whilst translating the Qumran texts. Carmignac was in fact “absolutely dumbfounded to discover [how] extremely easy” it was for him to translate back into Qumranic Hebrew the Greek texts of Matthew and Mark (ibid., 1). This led him to the inescapable conclusion that Matthew and Mark were originally written in Hebrew (or possibly its sister-language, Aramaïc), thus according with “numerous Fathers of the Church” that there was “a Hebrew Matthew”. Carmignac felt compelled thus to revise the dating for the synoptic Gospels (Ibid., 6, 60): “.… The latest dates that can be admitted for Mark (and the Collection of Discourses) is 50, and around 55 for the Completed Mark; around 55-60 for Matthew; between 58 and 60 for Luke. But the earliest dates are clearly more probable: Mark around 42; Completed Mark around 45; (Hebrew) Matthew around 50; (Greek) Luke a little after 50”.
In support of this revision, Carmignac provided a most striking example from Luke 1:68-79 of the Evangelist’s dependence upon what he entitled Semitisms of Composition (ibid., 27-29. Emphasis added): “Is it by chance”, he asked, “that the second strophe of this poem begins by a triple allusion to the names of the three protagonists: John [the Baptist], Zachary, Elizabeth? But this allusion only exists in Hebrew; the Greek or English translation does not preserve it”.
[Dr. Eva Danelius, whom we met in Pt. I in “Did Thutmose III Despoil the Temple in Jerusalem?”, SIS, Vol. II (1978), claimed for instance that the Book of Revelation (conventionally dated to c. 95 AD) ought really to be viewed from a pre-70 AD standpoint. “For the attentive reader it is obvious that a part of John’s visions – the 24 elders, the importance of clean white garments, the punishment of those who neglect their duty as watchmen – reflect details of the duties of priests and Levites in the Beth Moked, the northenmost building of the Temple compound, where the keys to the Temple mound were guarded under measures of the strictest security” (70, with reference to the Babylonian Talmud, Ch. 1. Midoth)].
– he is quite biased in his methodology.
Comment: Osman employs a convenient modus operandi throughout especially the latter part of his book, sweeping aside as “fiction”, or “forgeries”, whatever documents oppose his viewpoint. Thus the entire Book of Joshua becomes “a work of fiction” (op. cit., 168) because – according to Osman’s extraordinary thesis – Joshua should no longer by then have been alive. And whatever early AD documents do refer to the physical Jesus – contrary to Osman’s argument that there was no physical Jesus that late – must be dismissed out of hand by him as “forgeries”, without any backing up of his claims with solid evidence or footnotes.
(i) As Tutankhamun
Osman has to make much of Tutankhamun, whose tomb inscriptions rather than the four Gospels, he seems to think, hold the true account of Jesus’ fate. He calls the young Pharaoh “the charismatic Tutankhamun”, adding (ibid., 135): “It is, I believe an unconscious recognition of the truth about his identity that impels millions to visit his tomb … each year in what might be described as a form of pilgrimage, and more millions to queue for hours to view … the treasures recovered from the tomb by Howard Carter …”.
Or, one might wonder, may not such fascination be due to the fact that people just love to view magnificent treasures of gold and lapis lazuli? The truth is, as P. Fox wrote: “… curiously enough, for all the splendour of his burial, Tutankhamun was a ruler of little importance” (Tutankhamun’s Treasure, OUP, 1951, 20). And H. Carter, the discoverer of Tutankhamun’s tomb, wrote similarly (The Tomb of Tut-ankh-Amen, I, 45): “In the present state of our knowledge we might say with truth that the one outstanding feature of [Tutankhamun’s] life was the fact that he died and was buried. Of the man himself – if indeed he ever arrived at the dignity of manhood – and of his personal character we know nothing”.
[Velikovsky used the supplementary (as he saw it) information of the Oedipus drama to help him account for anomalies of this period, such as why so insignificant a king as Tut (Velikovsky’s Eteocles) was glorified with so magnificent a tomb by Aye (his Creon). In Oedipus and Akhnaton, Abacus, 1969, Ch. “Crowned with Every Rite”, 131-141].
Not at all convincing either is Osman’s forcing of Egyptian texts and the Bible to support his theory that ‘Jesus’/Tutankhamun was killed by an 18th dynasty priest, Panehesy, so as to tie in with his interpretation of the Talmud, according to which a priest, “Pinhas … killed [Jesus]” (b. Sanh, 106b, as cited by Osman, op. cit., 132). Osman reaches the new conclusion – without offering any primary evidence in support – that Tutankhamun was killed by Panehesy; who, as Akhnaton’s “chancellor and Chief Servitor of the Aten”, may indeed have been a priest. He then really complicates matters by identifying Panehesy, firstly with the Israelite priest Phinehas (Numbers 25:6-15), before going on to equate both priests with the Talmudic Pinhas. But nowhere does he bother to show where the Talmud identifies this Pinhas as a priest.
The names Panehesy and Phinehas are indeed strikingly similar [the name Phinehas is clearly of Egyptian origin], but their circumstances are not. The zealous Phinehas had intervened when an Israelite had, in flagrant breach of the Law, brought a Moabite woman into his family “under the very eyes of Moses and the whole community of the sons of Israel as they wept at the door of the Tent of Meeting”. Phinehas arose, “seized a lance, followed the Israelite into the alcove, and there ran them both through, the Israelite and the woman, right through the groin” (vv. 6-8). This incident is said to have occurred in Transjordania, not “at the foot of Mount Sinai” where Osman would have ‘Jesus’/Tutankhamun meet his violent death. To get around this inconvenient snag, Osman – taking his cue from documentist E. Sellin (op. cit., 144) – argues that the biblical account of Phinehas has been “subjected to some priestly sleight-of-hand in the editing in order to cover up what actually happened”. This neat piece of subterfuge sets Osman free then to pursue his own far-fetched Whodunnit.
(ii) As Joshua
Osman also equates Jesus (Hebrew Ye-shua) with Old Testament Joshua (Ye-ho-shua), enabling him to synthesise the episodes of Moses and Joshua on Mount Sinai (Old Testament) with the Transfiguration (New Testament), with Moses and Jesus together on the same mountain (for him also Mount Sinai). But here Osman quite undoes himself:
– firstly, by adhering to the traditional view that Mount Sinai was Jebel Musa in the Sinai Peninsula (he calls it Gebel Musa, ibid., 101). [Egyptians may understandably be reluctant to let go of the centuries long tradition of having a ‘Mount Sinai’ in their own (or neighbouring) territory]. Professor Emmanuel Anati (The Mountain of God: Har Karkom, Rizzoli, 1986) had proved Jebel Musa to be quite lacking in Late Bronze Age archaeology (relevant to the 18th dynasty). Osman will later have St. Paul trekking off to Jebel Musa, thus enabling him to develop further his pro-Egyptian thesis, with the Apostle supposedly being influenced by Alexandrian Hermetic and Gnostic thinking. But his case for Paul’s dependence upon Alexandrian lore cannot be sustained given that Mount Sinai could not have been anywhere near Egypt. Professor Anati has dedicated an entire chapter (Pt. Two, Ch. V) to pin-pointing peoples, such as the Amalekites and Midianites, who lived in the neighbourhood of the holy mountain, showing this to have been in the Paran desert, not the Sinai Peninsula. Moreover, St. Paul says that Mount Sinai was “in Arabia” (Galatians 4:25).
– secondly, as if that weren’t bad enough, his reconstruction leads him into the absurd situation where his ‘Jesus’/Joshua, who had already been slain, later resurfaces in the Book of Deuteronomy; not to mention – after that – in what Osman calls “an entire book devoted to his exploits” (Book of Joshua) (op. cit., 168).
Jericho and Qumran
There actually is a similarity between the circumstances of Jesus and Joshua; bit it has nothing to do with name or physical identity. It has to do with the way that both have been treated archaeologically: Joshua in regard to the fallen walls at Jericho and Jesus in regard to the Essene community at Qumran. Because of the strictures of conventional chronology, those who have embraced it have not been free to draw certain obvious conclusions. Hershel Shanks for instance, as a committed follower of Sothic dating, has to deny archaeology’s original impulse, that the Early Bronze Age fallen walls of Jericho belonged to the time of Joshua. Interestingly, Shanks crops up again in Osman’s treatment of the Dead Sea Scrolls (ibid., 109), according to which the significance of the scrolls received fresh impetus when Shanks published a fragment in his magazines in 1990, reading: “He shall be great upon the earth … he shall be called the Son of God and they shall call him the Son of the Most High”. The intriguing aspect of this fragment, Osman says, is “the uncanny resemblance to the account of the Annunciation to the Virgin Mary that we find in the first chapter of St. Luke’s Gospel … (1:32,35)”.
The Sothic scheme has forced ‘about-faces’ with the interpretation of both Jericho and Qumran:
Archaeology’s original impulse was to recognize the Early Bronze Age walls at Jericho as the famous fallen walls of the Book of Joshua. But that notion was abandoned once the Sothic scheme of chronology was applied to the site, re-dating those particular walls to about half a millennium earlier than Joshua. Osman naturally swallows this line of reasoning, calling the entire Book of Joshua “a work of fiction” (ibid., 169). The fact is that the book has in support of its narrative a compelt stratigraphy. I have shown this in various articles.
(a) Jesus/Qumran Texts
Likewise with the Dead Sea Scrolls there has since largely been abandoned the original impulse, which was to identify the documents as belonging to the early Christians, because Sothic-based chronology dates these documents centuries earlier than the Christian era. The original impulse is reflected in the estimation by W. Albright (as cited by Osman, op. cit., 121), “one of the most highly qualified American Orientalists”, whom Osman quotes as writing: “The new evidence … bids fair to revolutionize our approach to the beginning of Christianity”. And Dr. J. Teicher, “himself a Jew and a distinguished Cambridge scholar”, went so far as to argue that the scrolls “are quite simply Christian documents”. Teicher also maintained that the leader of the Essenes, ‘The Teacher of Righteousness’ himself who met a violent death at the hands of one who was called ‘The Wicked Priest’, was none other than Jesus Christ.
Osman, too, accepts this Essene/Christian link, but back-dates the murder incident all the way to the 18th dynasty, with Panehesy being the death-dealing priest in question. Nonetheless Osman’s treatment of the Essenes is quite a thorough one, well worth reading. Whilst his connecting of the names Qumran and el-Amarna (op. cit., 2) – to keep alive his pro-Egyptian theme – seems to me to be quite far-fetched [he connects them through the intermediary name, Imran, which also happened to be the name of Moses’ father – I think perhaps that Qumran may be more plausibly linked with Gomorrah. Revisionist, Michael Sanders, claims to have located Pentapolis at the northern end of the Dead Sea (near Qumran) using satellite photos. This is where one would expect the cities to lie, given Abraham’s viewing perspective], Osman has made the telling observation that the name Essene comes from the Arabic word for Jesus (ibid., 121-122):
The very name ‘Essenes’ indicates that they were followers of Jesus. Philo Judaeus, who wrote the earliest account of the sect around AD 30, called them Essaeans, from the Greek Essaios, but made it clear that this was not originally a Greek word. Josephus, who, half a century later, included them among the Jews of his time, called them Essenes, the same term that is used in English. However, it was recognized that the word ‘Essene’ must have had a Semitic origin. Surprisingly, amid many unsatisfactory suggestions about its source, the obvious one was overlooked – Essa, the Arabic name for Jesus and the name for him used in the Koran. Essaios would therefore mean ‘a follower of Essa’.
Osman claims that the physical Jesus is not referred to in contemporary records, either Roman or Jewish. I say physical Jesus because a key distinction in Osman’s thesis is that Jesus had both (a) a physical persona, as Joshua/Tutankhamun; and (b) a spiritual persona, as known by the Apostles (ibid., 109). Osman is even bold enough to claim that, in this very convenient (for him) split theory – which has something of a Docetist ring about it [the Docetists denied that Christ ever had a real body or a narrowly ‘historical’ existence] – he is supported by the Church Fathers. But from my reading of the Fathers, I think that Osman has badly misunderstood their use of allegory, according to which all the holy men of the Old Testament were to be regarded as forerunners – in one way or another – of Christ; but not as the actual Christ; just as they regarded the holy women (e.g. Sarah, Ruth, Judith and Esther) as types of Mary. In the minds of the Fathers (e.g. Sts. Irenaeus, Adv. haer., III, 22, 4; Epiphanius, Haer., 78, 18; Jerome, Epist., 22, 21), Jesus and Mary were the ‘New Adam’ and the ‘New Eve’, and they believed the Old Testament to be replete with symbolical prefigurations of the two.
Osman, referring to the physical Jesus, writes (op. cit., 109):
Two thousand years ago, at the time Jesus is said to have lived, Palestine was part of the Roman Empire. Yet no contemporary Roman record exists that can bear witness … to the physical appearance of Jesus. Even more surprising is the absence of any reference to Jesus in the writings of Jewish authors living at that time in Jerusalem or Alexandria ….
I think that there is a bit of legerdemain involved here as well. It is all too easy for Osman to say “no contemporary … record exists”, when he is going to, one by one, dismiss as “forgeries” any contenders, and brush aside the Gospels as contradicting each other (ibid., 110). Contemporary Jewish historian Flavius Josephus wrote, not only about the Essenes – and about Pontius Pilate, John the Baptist and James- but he also wrote directly about Jesus Christ (Antiquities of the Jews, Bk. 18, ch. iv):
Now, there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man, for he was a doer of wonderful works – a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews, and many of the Gentiles. He was (the) Christ; and when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had condemned him to the Cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him, for he appeared to them alive again the third day, as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him ….
Osman claims that this passage, “greatly valued during the Middle Ages as the only external testimony from the C1st AD pointing to Jesus having lived at that time” has since “become an embarrassment, having been exposed in the 16th century as a forgery” (op. cit., ibid). He offers not a single name or footnote to verify this, only an argumentum ab silentio, that the prolific Origen never referred to this passage.
Re the supposed contradictions amongst the four Gospels, Osman [who believes that the earliest versions were written only “several decades after the events they describe”] writes (ibid., 109-110):
… when we attempt to match the four gospels … against the facts of history we cannot escape the implication that with the gospels themselves we are dealing with a false dawn. We find no agreement about when Jesus was born or when he was put to death.
… Only two of the four gospel authors, Matthew and Luke, refer to the birth of Jesus, but their accounts do not agree. … Matthew places his birth firmly in the time of Herod … Luke … relates the birth of Jesus to that of John the Baptist, who was also born ‘in the days of Herod, the king of Judaea’ (Luke 1:5).
…. Luke goes on to tell the familiar story of the birth of Jesus in a Bethlehem stable … and contradicts both Matthew and his own earlier account by placing these events a decade after the death of Herod the Great: ‘And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius (Quirinius) was governor of Syria). … We know from Roman sources that this event could not have taken pace before AD 6, the year in which Quirinius was appointed governor of Syria and Judaea became a Roman province.
Comment: Of course the Roman people themselves did not date in terms of BC or AD. Moreover, virtually no scholar today is bold enough to assert that the date for Jesus’ birth has been fixed with chronological precision. [Even John Paul II, writing his first encyclical “Redemptor Hominis” (1978), referred to the date of the Jubilee Year 2000 “without prejudice to all the corrections imposed by chronological exactitude …” (#1). Re Quirinius, see G. Mackinlay’s discussion of this based on Luke’s testimony that it was “the first enrolment” (2:2). In The Magi. How They Recognised Christ’s Star, 1907].
I do not believe that it will be possible to do this until there has been accomplished a thorough ‘Velikovskian’ revision of the era.
Osman, after conveniently sweeping aside all opposing data, will direct our attention towards what he calls “the established historical facts”. But while such an authoritative sounding phrase might be enough to coerce many into an immediate passive conformity, it probably does not have that sort of hypnotic effect upon hardened revisionists, who might straightaway ask: “What “facts”? How “established”? As with the Old Testament, so with the New, it is easy to point out anomalies with the conventional history; but then to go on and say that the writings of Israel contradict real history, or one another, because they do not fit the Procrustean bed of textbook chronology, is to say too much – until that bed has been properly made and set on solid foundations. There is enough evidence in the case of Jericho (Tell es-Sultan), for example, to indicate that establishment figures such as Hershel Shanks are not reliable guides as to archaeological interpretation.
And certainly Ahmed Osman does not inspire much confidence in this regard.