The Exodus Reality, by Scott Alan Roberts and Dr. John Richard Ward (Softcover, 2013)|
(You can print this review in landscape mode, if you
want a hardcopy)
Reviewer: Mark Lamendola, author of over 6,000 articles.
What do we really know about Moses? Set aside biblical accounts, and what
corroborating evidence do you have? There's no mention of Moses per se in any of
the surviving written records or other artifacts of the period in which he is
supposed to have lived.
The authors acknowledge this documentation gap, but then propose two
possible sets of corroboration based on the available evidence. By "sets of
corroboration" I mean the book contains two scenarios by which an actual
historical figure under a name other than Moses could have been the actual
Moses. Roberts presents one scenario, and Ward the other. Each co-author
follows a different theory, and the theories run as threads through the
- Ward's theory is based on the life of Amenhotep, who was the son of
Hapu. He presents this as "the Hapu thread."
- Roberts' theory is based on the life of Senenmut. He presents this
as "the Senenmut thread."
To avoid confusing the reader, each chapter follows one thread or the
other, and the thread being followed is stated at the beginning.
Something I really like about their approach and general tone is neither
author pretends to have "the answer." In fact, they are very clear on this
and make an effort to avoid giving any such impression. The very structure
of the book (two possible theories) avoids this, but also throughout the
text the authors say things like this particular idea is something you
accept on faith because it can't be proven but it's logical enough that it
might be proven if you could find the evidence.
- Roberts blends the perspective of a theologian (which he is) and an
historian (which he is) to pursue a theory that tries to reconcile
Biblical references with other sources. Roberts lives in Minnesota, and
that fact is somewhat important to his perspective.
- Dr. Ward combs through the clues to be found in ancient Egyptian
architecture and symbolism, with less emphasis on the Genesis account.
He lives in Luxor, Egypt, and that fact has a significant importance to
his perspective. It's also worth noting that he and his partner (Dr.
Maria Nilsson) currently work in the quarries of Gebel el Silsila. What
work are they doing? They conduct and catalog epigraphic surveys. If you
do a Bing search on "epigraphic survey" what comes up is very
interesting and you might note that the location mentioned is none other
than Luxor, Egypt.
I won't go into the details of their qualifications, but I'm satisfied
that the authors are heavyweights in the area of study covered by this book.
I've read other books that give a good presentation of what might be the
reality, but the author has an agenda and concludes that a likely
possibility is the only possibility. So I want to stress the point that Ward
and Roberts are clearly not doing any such thing. Having finished the book
and become familiar with each theory, I have no preference of one over the
other. Either one could be right.
This book runs 197 pages of text, which is laced with excellent black and
white photography and illustrations (so the actual text is something less
than that). Having worked a long time in the trade publication industry
(author, editor), I know how hard it is to get photos that actually add to
the text in a meaningful way versus gratuitous "glory shots" added just for
the sake of having graphics. An outstanding job, here.
The book also has a set of brilliant captioned photographs (8 pages)
inserted between pages 96 and 97, and a second set (8 pages) inserted
between pages 192 and 193.
Prior to the text are the Acknowledgement, TOC, Foreword, Preface by Dr.
Ward, Preface by Scott Alan Roberts, and Introduction. Collectively, these
take up 47 pages. The book's actual text starts on page 49 (page 48 is
blank). Appendix A is a long (19 pages) poem called The Admonitions of an
Appendix B (2 pages) is The Oxford History of Ancient Egypt; it lays out
the dates of the various dynasties in chronological order, starting with the
18th Dynasty (1550 to 1069 BC) and ending with Horemheb (1323 to 1295 BC).
Note that these are not sequential; there is considerable overlap as many of
these are largely concurrent. The notes and bibliography are a bit on the
scant side, but then one must consider that this book wasn't intended as a
tertiary work. The authors presented a great deal of primary research
conducted in person onsite. You can tell this is the case just from the
photos alone, but it's also supported in the text.
Something that was distracting during the reading of this book is
the fact it's rife with errors in spelling and grammar. I think that, given
the price range and the audience demographic, there just isn't funding for
good copyediting. My thought on this is the authors chose to make this work
available to the typical public consumer rather than relegating it to
limited academic circles.
It's a scholarly work. If snuffed up to college textbook form, a $75 to
$99 price tag would not surprise me. By putting it in paperback and leaving
the grammar gaffes and misspellings fall where they may, the authors can
share their research with a much wider audience. This was probably the