logo
Wrong email address or username
Wrong email address or username
Incorrect verification code
back to top
Search tags: Jewish-history
Load new posts () and activity
Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2020-03-18 14:53
Let My People Go!: Using Historical Synchronisms to Identify the Pharaoh of the Exodus
Let My People Go!: Using Historical Synchronisms to Identify the Pharaoh of the Exodus - Steven Collins

The debate on if the Bible is historical comes down to one event for proponents on both sides, The Exodus, not only if it happened but when.  Let My People Go!: Using Historical Synchronisms to Identify the Pharaoh of the Exodus by Steven Collins combines what the Biblical text says with the historical record that Egyptologists and other historians have pieced together from numerous ancient sources in search of the man who Moses confronted.

 

Collins begins by examining the variables of the problem at hand from the actual Biblical account of events as well as the geographic extent of place names used, the propagandic nature of Pharaonic Egypt, and the on-the-ground facts that modern Egyptologists have constructed to get at actual history behind the propaganda.  Using the Biblical account of the events from the time of Joseph to Joshua’s conquest of Canaan, in particular the consequences and impact of the Exodus events on Egypt, Collins looked to see if they matched up with Egyptian and wider Middle Eastern history at anytime to see if the Bible was historically accurate.  Using this “synchronism” method, Collins pinpointed the 18th Dynasty’s rise as an anti-Semitic, due to the foreign Hyksos, empire that reached the Euphrates to it’s suddenly rapid fall internationally with domestic upheaval as seen with Akhenaten to the era that matched most of the points of reference.  Collins then eliminated one-by-one the established candidates of the 18th Dynasty, as well as Ramesses II given popular culture, that Biblical scholars and mainstream Egyptologists put forward as the Pharaoh of the Exodus then showed how the “synchronism” timeline didn’t match the historical timeline.  Collins ends the main body of the text with establishing Thutmose IV, the last Pharaoh of the powerful Thutmosid empire before it’s dramatic decline under his son Amenhotep III and grandson Akhenaten, as fitting perfectly the events of the Bible to go with the historical record.

 

In roughly 142 pages filled with text as well as tables and charts, Collins puts forward his case for the Pharaoh of the Exodus.  Overall the scholarly portion of this monograph is very good for familiar with the Bible and the general history of the era, yet Collins unfortunately tried to find a middle ground between his main audience of Christians (fundamentalists or otherwise) and general readers that did not work as he explained a tad too much for one and too little for the other.  The short length of the book and its layout between the covers were also problematic.  In lengthening the book to explain certain things like the avenue of mainstream research he was comparing the Biblical events to and the leading Egyptologists behind them, even if those same individuals find the Exodus dubious; the book’s layout was unfortunately a mess considering it had very informative tables and charts, but those items were times with the text explaining them and at others back in the appendixes resulting the use of numerous bookmarks or looking back and forth.

 

Let My People Go! is an informative look at the Biblical narrative of the Israelite sojourn in Egypt, the Exodus, and the beginning of the Conquest in comparison to the mainstream view of ancient Egyptian and Middle Eastern history.  While Steven Collins brings a lot of knowledge to the subject and does well to bring it across to the reader, his efforts are undercut by length and layout of the book which doesn’t do justice to his argument.

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2018-08-04 22:12
The Histories (Tacitus)
The Histories - Tacitus,D.S. Levene

The death of Nero begins a Roman bloodletting that Augustus had thought he had completely ended as four men will within a year claim the title Emperor.  The Histories by Tacitus follows the aftermath of Nero’s death as a succession of men claimed the throne until the Flavians emerge to return the Roman Peace.

 

Tacitus begins his work with those who had prospered under Nero worrying for themselves while the rest of the populace celebrated and setting the stage for the eventual assassination for Galba and the rise of Otho, who the former had passed over as his chosen successor.  Yet at the time of his death Galba was facing a mutiny on the German frontier that had installed Vitellius as their choice as emperor, a task that Otho took to quash and retain his own throne.  The invasion of Italy by Vitellius’ legions brought war to the core of empire for the first time in almost a century and witnessed the defeat of Otho’s forces before he committed suicide.  The rise of Vitellius brought Vespasian, the leader of the legions fighting the Jewish War, into the fray as he accepted the proclamation of his legions as emperor and soon found the supporters of Otho and others joining him.  After the crushing defeat of his forces, Vitellius attempted to abdicate but the Guards wouldn’t let him resulting in his death by Vespasian’s soldiers.  On top of civil war in Italy and the final phase of the Jewish War under Titus, a Gallo-German uprising at first claiming support for Vespasian became an invasion and rebellion that took numerous legions to suppress and the aftermath would be alluded to in Tacitus’ own Germany.

 

Although The Histories are incomplete, from the beginning Tacitus brings his aristocratic ideology and politics in focus early by showing only someone with political realism and firm hand on the legions can prevent civil wars and the rioting of the masses.  The writing is quick-paced, going hand in hand with the rapid succession of events but Tacitus does give excellent portraits on the prime actors in this historical drama the played across the Roman world.  The only thing a historian would have against Tacitus would be the twisting of the chronology to suit his own purposes.  Yet like Agricola and Germany, my biggest complaint is how Oxford World Classics edition is structured with the Notes at the very end of the piece and making the reader use two bookmarks so they could go back and forth.

 

The Histories, the first of Tacitus’ two large scale historical works, shows the horrors of civil war and the according to Tacitus the dangers of leader who cannot control the legions and masses.  Even though the we are missing over two-thirds of the overall work, the portion we have that covers the Year of Four Emperors shows the breakdown of society in vacuum of strong leadership that is important not only in that time but throughout all of history including down to our own time.

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2018-07-31 21:51
Abraham's Other Son: Islam Among Judaism & Christianity
Abraham's Other Son: Islam Among Judaism & Christianity (Question and Answer Format) - Philip G. Samaan

Many Christians have no idea what the religion of Islam actually is and for many who have read the Old Testament, they forget that Islam began among the descendants of Abraham’s other son Ishmael.  Dr. Philip Samaan attempts to give Christians, in particular Seventh-day Adventists, a glimpse of actually Islam and Muslims in Abraham’s Other Son: Islam Among Judaism & Christianity.

 

The first two-thirds of the book Samaan focuses primarily on everything related to Islam beginning with Abraham, Hagar, and Ishmael in the Biblical record before turning his attention to Muhammad as well as the rise and spread of Islam.  After the historical portion, Samaan then looks at the faith of Islam itself and its similarities and contrasts to Judaism and Christianity.  Then after covering Jesus in Islam, the book turns to focus on Christ for nearly the last third of the book until the last chapter covers how Christians—Seventh-day Adventists—can witness to both Muslims and Jews.

 

Born in Syria into an Orthodox Christian family, Samaan not only grew up amongst all three faiths but has studied them diligently bring extensive knowledge to this book.  However, while Samaan is particular knowledgeable on the subject went to write, it felt that he wrote parts of at least three different books in this roughly 280 page book.  Not that the material cover wasn’t insightful, but when the book ignored Islam for long stretches which felt weird given that it was to be the main topic.  While the book structure was a little surprising, the biggest drawback is the editing of the text which could have been tightened up in several spots and in some places were determinately to the understanding of what Samaan was discussing.

 

Abraham’s Other Son is an informative book on the history of Ishmael and his descendants in Muslims around the world.  While Philip Samaan’s book is not perfect, it is able to give Christians—not only Seventh-day Adventists—a true glimpse at what Islam really is and its relationship to Judaism and Christianity.

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2016-09-21 20:07
The Gifts of the Jews (Hinges of History #2)
The Gifts of the Jews: How a Tribe of Desert Nomads Changed the Way Everyone Thinks and Feels - Thomas Cahill

The moment, or hinge, in history that a changed occurred to allow Western civilization possible is the primary focus of Thomas Cahill’s The Gifts of the Jews.  Over the course of less than 304 pages and the scope of two millennia of Jewish history from its birth with Abraham to their return from exile, Cahill examines the evolving birth of a new worldview that was entirely different from what had been thought before.

 

The focus of Cahill’s book is the beginning of Western civilization, which to him is a change in mindset on how to view the world and the reason was the Jews.  Before getting to Abraham however, Cahill looked to what had come before, the “cyclical” worldview and culture of Sumer in which he went out of.  With this in mind, Cahill emphasizes how big a step Abraham’s journey at God’s direction was.  Then throughout the course of the book, Cahill examines step-by-step the development of the “processive” worldview that the Jews were exhibiting for the first time from successive revelations of God and the development of individuality in language and philosophy, but most importantly the role of justice in society.

 

Cahill’s argument is very compelling, as was his discussions on the Epic of Gilgamesh and the various Biblical individuals and their actions.  Yet the problem I have with this book is with some of Cahill’s interpretation and subsequent logical construction of his evidence whether through scripture or an analysis of non-Biblical sources to weave his thesis.  For example some of the evidence Cahill uses to date the Exodus is erroneous by misinterpretation of both Biblical and non-Biblical sources, yet that is only of several examples I could have given.

 

Yet while Cahill’s interpretations aren’t the best part of this book, his argument that the Jews brought forth a new worldview that would lead to Western civilization is compelling.  Because of that, The Gifts of the Jews is worth a close read as it describes the first and most significant hinge of historical change.

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2015-10-13 19:19
People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks
People of the Book - Geraldine Brooks

This is an exceptional story that explores the history of an ancient illuminated manuscript, the Sarajevo Haggadah. When the novel opened with a scene in 1996 Sarajevo, I wondered if it was going to be a good choice for me, but that was just the beginning of an amazing journey through centuries of struggle, war, and fate that brought this unique book into the hands of modern book restoration specialist Hanna Heath.

 

Heath is the central character, connecting to the others by the evidence she finds in the Haggadah. As she investigates a stain or researches the source of an insect wing, the story of another lifetime is revealed. The travels of the book demonstrate how amazing it is that it still exists while documenting the trials and suffering that humankind has caused each other to suffer.

 

Each person who has contact with the Haggadah is impacted by it and has a part in ensuring its future. People of diverse faiths and backgrounds are eloquently brought together in heartbreaking stories that far too many people lived through. Examples of slavery, inquisition, torture, disinheritance, and, of course, the Holocaust.....one finishes this book wondering how we could keep doing this to one another.

 

Another hit from Brooks. She does not disappoint.

 

I have to mention that I listened to this as an audio book. That was probably not the best format to choose with the multitude of characters, locations, and timelines. However, the narrator did an impressive job of using different accents for the wide variety of nationalities represented. I learned that Americans (I include myself) have the least musical speech patterns in the world. It almost hurt my ears to hear the American characters after the others, including the main character's Australian accent.

More posts
Your Dashboard view:
Need help?