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Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - February 2, 1974, Lethbridge, Alberta Saturday, February 2, 1974 THE LETHBRIDQE HERALD 9 Velikovsky? s dating not important By Dr. Alan Parry, University of Lethbridge counsellor The Herald has made abun- dantly clear to its readers its contempt for the work of Im- manuel Velikovsky as well as for those who are persuaded of the seriousness of his writings and of the value in giving them a careful and thorough-going hearing. This position of The Herald's is maintained in spite of the fact that Velikovsky is being taken seriously, not only by the in- evitable cultists who are bound to follow any bold and sensational departure from established dogma, but by a growing number of serious and reputable scholars from a number of disciplines who could ill-afford to be associated with a mere "cult of unless there was developing very good reason in the form of the im- pressive amount of evidence that has been accumulating from the fields of astronomy, geology, biology and ancient history in support of Velikovsky's work. The question has been raised, with some vigor, as to what would happen to the Velikovsky thesis if it were shown, in accordance with the position of the overwhelming number of present-day Biblical scholars, that the Ex- odus occurred shortly after 1300 B.C., and not around 1450 B.C. as Velikovsky, and the Bible itself, indicate that it took place. Those who take Velikovsky's work seriously were, in fact, challenged to place the issue, to the test of a nose-count of contemporary biblical scholars for and against, presumably as a means of settling the issue permanently. It would be, to be sure, very reassuring to those who find themselves upset by Velikovsky's challenge to the assumptions of a rational, predictable and manageable cosmos if the whole matter could be laid to rest by a show of hands. One of Velikovsky's most forceful challenges is to the prevailing assumption of con- temporary scholarship that all the great questions have been answered and the great issues settled, and that all that es- sentially remains are a series of mopping up operations and the tying up of the loose ends. We really don't know as much as we think we know, says Rejoinder Velikovsky, even about matters that we assume we have ail-but permanently settled. The dating of the Exodus is, in fact, a very good case in point. Up until about 40 years ago the favored date for the Exodus by scholars was the Biblical date, around 1450 B.C. Before that, however, 1300 B.C. was favored for a time, and again, before that, 1450 B.C. was assumed to be cor- rect. There are two major reasons why 1300 B.C. is currently preferred. One is that the book of Exodus itself mentions that the enslaved Israelites were put to work building the store-house cities of Pithom and Ramses (Ex. Ramses is known to have been built (or more precisely, rebuilt) during the time of Ramses II which would make either him or his father, Seti I (1313- the Pharoah of Oppression. If his father were the latter, as tends best to fit the hypothesis of the later date, Ramses would be the Pharoah .of the Exodus. Also Egyptian records mention that Asiatic 'Apiru' were put to work on public building projects un- der Ramses. A reasonable argument still remains for the more traditional. 1450 B.C. date, which, far from being com- pletely abandoned, was defended and accepted by no less a scholar than the great Martin Buber in his book Moses (1946) in the face of arguments supporting the 1300 B.C. date. The arguments supporting 1450 B.C. are, first, that it agrees with the biblical chronology; secondly, that it follows the expulsion of the Hyksos, the unpopular Semitic shepherd-kings whose eviction after 200-400 years of tyran- nical rule would well explain the sudden disfavor into which the Semitic Hebrews fell one of their numbers, Joseph, having supposedly risen to the position of first minister to the pharoah under the Hyksos. Furthermore, the Tell-el- Amarna letters of 1400-1350 B.C. warn repeatedly that Habiru were in- vading- Palestine and con- quering cities. What finally swung the balance from the older date of -1450 to -1300, however, was the discovery that the ruins of a settlement at Jericho with thick walls that had been destroyed by earthquake, did not date from around -1400, but hundreds of years earlier. This discovery really helped no one, for it left no settle- ment of any consequence at Jericho from 2000-1800 until after -1200.. The non-existence of Jericho remains one of the mysteries for recent biblical scholarship, but helps proponents of the -1300 date because they do not seem to be all that intent on harmoniz- ing events with the biblical ac- count. The argument favoring -1300 is undeniably strong, and, for this reason, the overwhelming majority of contemporary biblical scholars accept it. However, this does not mean that the date is finally and firmly established. The fact remains that the dating of the Exodus is based almost en- tirely on circumstantial and conjectural evidence. Moreover, it is only the lack of any more definitive evidence either way that leads to the present state of the dispute. The strength could easily shift back to the earlier date were more material evidence to be discovered than we now have in its favor. In other words, the issue is still very much subject to change. Such evidence may, in fact, be forthcoming. Claude Schaeffer, in a highly detailed and technical study of archaeological evidence from excavations from Troy and the Aegean, and Egypt, to the Caucasus and Persia and In- dia concludes: "Our inquiry has demonstrated that these repeated crises (i.e., the violent destruction of ancient were not caused by the action of man. Far from it, because compared with the vastness of these all- embracing crises and their profound effects, the exploits of conqueror appear only insignificant." Stratigraphie comparee et chronologic de L'Asie Occidental (London, In recent years Gelanopoulos and Bacon (1968 X have demonstrated that a series of volcanic eruptions around -1450, that were perhaps the greatest to occur in historical times, sunk the island of Stronghyle-Santorin, a part of the Minoan civiliza- tion of ancient Crete, which also perished in the earth- quake and tidal waves that followed the eruptions. The authors suggest, in fact, that the Minoan civilization amply fits Plato's description of the legendary Atlantis. In addition, Deucalion's Flood of Greek lore appears to be contemporaneous with this event, as, they assume, is the Exodus, both of which would have felt the aftermath of the titanic volcano, the former through unprecedented tidal waves, and the latter through the massive suction of water all over the Mediterranean with the sinking of the island, followed shortly thereafter by a massive tidal wave, the one allowing the fleeing Israelites to escape across the Sirbonis Lake near the Nile Delta, and the other overwhelming the pursuing Egyptians. There has been a pronounc- ed tendency amongst modern biblical scholars to minimize the crossing of water by the Israelites, seeing it, instead, as a kind of existential embellishment of what, to a casual observer, might have seemed only the remarkable coincidence of an otherwise unremarkable occurrence. Yet the history and religion of Israel make no sense without this event. It was an act of deliverance which was so awesome, unexpected and utterly gracious that it has served for thirty-five cen- turies as Israel's warrant of a special relationship with God. Evidence that a cataclysm sufficient to account for the awesome nature of that event would seem to be of un- deniable importance in resolv- ing the issue, among other things, of dating. In the meantime, proponents of the -1300 date are left explaining the events at the Sea of Reeds in terms of something like a strong wind blowing across a shallow marsh, which, in the first place, the Israelites might have waded across, and, in the second place, would scarcely have inundated their pur- suers, a tale later embellished until it reached its final ex- aggerated form. Nor is it merely correspondence with natural laws that is at issue; no one disputes that the laws By Doug Walker, Herald editorial page editor Theory becomes only hypothetical The Herald has not taken a position (see initialed editorial, Dec. 20) regarding the work of Immanuel Velikovsky; I have. My position is that Velikovsky has misused the Bible in his first book, Worlds in Collision, and that this casts serious doubt on the thesis he develops about the near collision and collision of planets in historical times. I think the whole line of argument presented in that first book is absurd as I attempted to demonstrate by employing it to explain references to the "new moon" in the Bible as constituting evidence of the dissolution and rebirth of the moon (see Manna and the new moon. Herald. Jan. Neither Dr. Earl Milton nor I suggested that a nose-count of contemporary biblical scholars for and against a 13th century date for the Exodus would settle the issue. At the Public Affairs luncheon in mid-December where I first raised the question of what happens to Velikovsky's thesis if the Exodus occurred in the I3Ui century, the answer was given that biblical scholars do not agree on the dating so people can take their choice of dates and the question presumably didn't need to be answered. Having responded to Dr. Milton by saying that I would like to know who the biblical scholars are who support a 15th century date, I went home and searched my library to sec if I had been laboring under an illusion that contemporary biblical scholars think the Exodus happened in the 33th century. In the 21 books in which I found the Exodus dealt.with, only one failed to opt for the late date and that one didn't take a position. Hie list was sent to Dr. Milton with a re- qaff.1 thai he produce a comparable one of those supporting the 15th century date. My contention was not that a nose-count would establish the truth but that if substantial support could not be adduced for the 15th century date then the original question should be faced. Dr. Milton's deputy, Dr. Alan Parry, by contrast, has only been able to produce the name of Martin Buber in support of a 15th century date. He concedes, rather reluctantly it seems to me, that my contention of near- unanimous support for a 13th century date is correct. He still holds out the possibility that biblical scholars may revert to the earlier date. Biblical scholars have indeed changed their minds on this issue demonstrating, incidentally, a readiness to adjust to new evidence that could make Velikovsky's theory acceptable if proper assessment proved it to be valid. The reason for the switching about on the dating of the Exodus is that biblical chronology is notoriously vague so that fixing dates depends frequently on external data. No date is given in the Bible for the Exodus. In I Kings it says that "in the four hundred and eightieth year after the people of Israel came out of the land of Egypt in the fourth year of Solomon's reign That might seem to give a definite date but the problem is thai the date of Solomon's accession is unknown. The date of Solomon's death can be calculated in 931 working back from the death of Ahab in In I Kings it is staled that Solomon reigned 40 years which would make his accession year 971 and the date of the Exodus: 971 minus four and plus 480 equals 1447. Unfortunately the figure 40 ''and 480 is 12 x 40) has a conventional significance