Many readers will be familiar with E. A. Wallis Budge, perhaps mostly with respect to his books on Egyptology. Much of Budge’s work in Egyptian language is today very outdated, as is his other work in Egyptology. Nevertheless, there is still good material to be found in his works, most of which are available at this University of Pennsylvania site for free. The collection is heavily stilted toward Egyptology and Coptic.
The Em Hotep blog has done us all a service by sifting through Facebook in search of pages devoted to Egyptology. The list and categorization can be found here. A great idea!
In recent days several valuable online resources have been posted on the web that will no doubt be of interest to readers. One is temporary (the month of April only) but the other two are permanent.
Some time ago over at my Naked Bible blog I blogged on the importance of scholarly journals for biblical research. I also lamented the fact that digital access to these materials is restricted. But now some good news — The American Schools of Oriental Research (ASOR) is making digital access to their scholarly journals available for free for a limited time. Granted, there are only a few journals, and the access is only for the last four years, but you may still find something you’d like to download. The available journals are:
- Near Eastern Archaeology
- Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research
- Journal of Cuneiform Studies
The Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago has a number of volumes available in PDF. Readers who are familiar with my website devoted to debunking Zecharia Sitchin’s ancient astronaut theory will recall that the Chicago Assyrian Dictionary is on that site. The Institute recently posted a note that the file for the valuable book, Religion and Power: Divine Kingship in the Ancient World and Beyond had been updated. I recommend that book for serious students and researchers, as well as many of the other titles on the Oriental Institute Publications page.
Volume 5 of Egyptological (a new online Egyptology magazine) has just hit the web. The more of the material I read in these volumes, the more appreciative I am that Kate Phizackerley and Andrea Byrnes initiated the endeavor and have maintained the effort. I especially recommend the series (continued in vol. 5) on Egyptian religion. I suspect many readers will also want to read about the online Certificate in Egyptology now being offered by the University of Manchester. It’s a three-year program headed by Dr. Joyce Tyldesley, who is interviewed in this issue.
Ahmed Osman has authored a number of books promoting fringe revisionist history with respect to ancient Egypt and the Bible (basically, the intersection of the two). His books have apparently sold well (no surprise there). Here are some titles (I love the one with the word “brilliant” in it – how humble):
* Stranger in the Valley of the Kings: Solving the Mystery of an Ancient Egyptian Mummy (1987)
alternate edition: Stranger in the Valley of the Kings: The Identification of Yuya as the Patriarch Joseph (1988)
alternate edition: Hebrew Pharaohs of Egypt: The Secret Lineage of the Patriarch Joseph (2003)
* Moses: Pharaoh of Egypt: The Mystery of Akhenaten Resolved (1990)
alternate edition: Moses and Akhenaten: The Secret History of Egypt at the Time of the Exodus (2002)
* The House of the Messiah: Controversial Revelations on the Historical Jesus (1992)
alternate edition: The House of the Messiah: A Brilliant New Solution to the Enduring Mystery of the Historical Jesus (1994)
alternate edition: Jesus in the House of the Pharaohs: The Essene Revelations on the Historical Jesus (2004)
* Out of Egypt: The Roots of Christianity Revealed (1999)
* Out of Egypt: Embracing the Roots of Western Theology (2001-2)
* Christianity: An Ancient Egyptian Religion (2005)
It’s pretty evident by the titles that Osman is a fringe pseudo-historian of which PaleoBabble readers should take note. His message is, like so many other fringe researchers, “everything you thought you knew about the subjects I’m writing about is wrong.” The message to Osman by those real scholars who have reviewed his books is similar: “Basically every revisionist position you espouse is demonstrably wrong.”
I offer here two examples. First, there is this 1992 review in the Jewish Quarterly Review of Osman’s book “Stranger in the Valley of the Kings” (had Osman’s book been found there, it would have indeed been stranger than anything else). This review tries to be gracious, but it’s a thorough dismantling of Osman’s work. The review by Egyptologist Donald Redford (excerpted below from BAR 15:2) is anything but. It’s brutal. Can’t say it isn’t deserved.
Stranger in the Valley of the Kings: The Identification of Yuya as the Patriarch Joseph, Ahmed Osman (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1988); Reviewed by Donald B. Redford
This ingenious work is one of those books whose author inexplicably fails to do his homework in one part, and lets his critical judgment lapse in the other. Sadly, Mr. Osman has no new evidence to offer, nor any new reconstruction of history other than that which, at one time or another, has suggested itself to many an undergraduate, only to be dismissed upon sober reflection. I find myself wondering, then, why Mr. Osman felt obliged to write the book at all. But he did write it, and my remarks are directed toward those who might be misled into taking it seriously.
The author seems to accept (p. 117) the notion that the Exodus must have taken place early in the XIXth Dynasty (1307–1196 B.C.). Accepting a four-generation span for the sojourn in the desert on the basis of Genesis 15:16 (“And they shall return here in the fourth generation”), he concludes that Joseph must have come to Egypt under Thutmose IV (last quarter of the 15th century B.C.), and that the family of Jacob lived during the following reign (Amenophis III [called Amenhotep III in the book]). Then, working backward chronologically, our author designates Thutmose III (c. first half of the 15th century B.C.) as the pharaoh of Abraham’s descent. He claims that Thutmose III sired Isaac by Sara (save the mark). Joseph himself is found to be none other than Yuya, the father-in-law of Amenophis III and the source of the monotheism that came to the fore during the reign of Yuya’s grandson Akhenaten. To bolster this pastiche of remarkable brainwaves, our author has recourse, from time to time, to passages not only from the Bible, but also from the Talmud and the Koran. His solemn trotting out of what can only be called a “Child’s Guide to the Documentary Hypothesis” does not save his theory from complete disaster. Mr. Osman certainly fails to make the case that Yuya and Joseph are identical.
The author treats the evidence as cavalierly as he pleases. He presents himself as a sober historian, yet when it suits him, the Biblical evidence is accepted at face value and literally. See, for example, Osman’s treatment of the chronological implications of Moses’ age on the supposed sequence of pharaohs (pp. 118–119), and his handling of the age of Joseph (p. 120). When the Biblical evidence does not suit Osman, it is discarded (pp. 114ff. on the length of the wilderness wandering of the Israelites) or ignored completely (e.g., the age of Jacob [Genesis 47:28], which by Osman’s reconstruction would put his birth well before that of his father, Isaac!). The narratives need not be binding, Osman advises, since they “were handed down over several centuries by word of mouth” (p. 31), yet we are invited to marvel at the precision in the numbers of the genealogy of Genesis 46 (p. 131). Again, all the author thinks he has to do is to state that there is a scholarly consensus, and this automatically becomes (for him) compelling evidence (pp. 71–73, 132). Needless to say, it is not “generally thought,” as Osman claims, that monotheism “had its origins in Yuya” (p. 139).
The work betrays a profound linguistic ignorance—for example, the ludicrous distinction implied between “Amurrites” and “Semitic elements” (p. 73); or the author’s inability to translate Hebrew (p. 73); or his outlandish derivation of the Turkish word wazir, “vizier,” from Egyptian wsr, “powerful” (p. 126). Anyone who would derive the Philistine seren, “ruler,” the West Semitic sar, “magistrate,” and the Latin personal name Caesar from the “same root” and the “same source” (p. 36, note 2) simply has a world of linguistic training ahead of him.
The work abounds in outright errors of fact. The -ham in the name “Abraham” has nothing to do with Egyptian h?m, “majesty” (p. 35); there is no cat-goddess “Bes” (p. 65; he has confused Bes with Bast); Dharukha is not Sile (p. 111); the Yo- and Ya- in the names “Joseph” and “Jacob” are imperfect (or precative) preformatives of Amorite, and have nothing to do with YHWH (pp. 122–123); Yuya was priest of the ithyphallic Min, not the pious monotheist Osman conjures up (p. 123); the Hyksos were not “shepherds” as the author several times claims, completely misled by the erroneous folk-etymology in Josephus. This list could easily be doubled.
Osman’s bibliography is only 50 items in length, and over half consists of works published prior to 1945! The gaps are enormous. He talks about Yuya’s physical remains, yet never cites the epoch-making x-raying of the Cairo mummies; he ponders the location of Pi-Raamses and Goshen (p. 107), and completely ignores the revolution in our knowledge of the eastern Delta brought about by the work of Alan Gardiner, Manfred Bietak, John Holladay and others within the last two decades. The enormous amount of research during the same period by Biblical scholars on the Exodus and the sources relating thereto are passed over in silence. “Recent studies” for our author (p. 95) means works written 35 years ago!
If this work had been submitted as a term paper by one of my undergraduates, I would have felt constrained to fail him or her. Mr. Osman is not an undergraduate, but I don’t see why he should be let off the hook: Stranger in the Valley of the Kings deserves nothing but an “F,” and its author a rap on the knuckles for wasting our time.