Back Cover Copy for Genesis Chronology and Egyptian King-Lists, Volume II

If Volume I shocked you, wait until you read Volume II

Continuing his astonishing study of Egyptian influences on the Book of Genesis, Gary Greenberg moves from Egypt’s historical chronology to its mythological chronology, meticulously uncovering the biblical book’s deep dependence on Egyptian sources for some of its most famous stories, including the seven days of creation, Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, Cain and Abel, Noah and the Flood, and the family of nations descended from Ham, Shem, and Japheth.

Despite the biblical narrative showing that Israel’s formative period as a nation took place in Egypt, almost all biblical scholars and Egyptologists refuse to take such claims seriously, rarely looking at anything more than an occasional peripheral link. Greenberg’s thorough scholarly examination of the biblical and Egyptological sources tears through this “papyrus curtain” and presents clear and convincing evidence that the original authors of Genesis worked from a solid knowledge of Egypt’s literary and historical sources and used them as the basis of the Bible’s primeval history.

Press Release for Genesis Chronology and Egyptian King-Lists, Volume II.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Gary Greenberg

info@biblemythhistory.com

The Book of Genesis is based on Egyptian myths and literature, says bible historian

Genesis Chronology and Egyptian King-Lists:

The Egyptian Origins of Genesis History, Volume II: Egypt’s Mythological Period

By Gary Greenberg

            Renowned author Gary Greenberg returns with the second volume in his Egyptian Origins of Genesis History series. While Volume I focused on the historical chronology of Egypt, Genesis Chronology and Egyptian King-Lists: The Egyptian Origins of Genesis History, Volume II: Egypt’s Mythological Period (September 5, 2022) takes a look into the mythological side of Egyptian history. Looking at many of the bible’s most famous stories in the Book of Genesis, Greenberg’s thorough scholarly examination of the biblical and Egyptological sources presents clear and convincing evidence that the original authors of Genesis worked from a solid knowledge of Egypt’s literary and historical sources, using that as the basis of the Bible’s primeval history. His work challenges many current widely held beliefs that these stories originated in Babylonian literature.

​​Greenberg observes that despite the biblical narrative showing that Israel’s formative period as a nation took place in Egypt, almost all biblical scholars and Egyptologists refuse to take such claims seriously, rarely looking at anything more than an occasional peripheral link. Greenberg’s very detailed examination of the biblical and Egyptological sources tears through this “papyrus curtain” and shows how biblical scribes relied on Egypt’s rich trove of myth and literature about primeval history to formulate their own monotheistic take on Israel’s earliest roots. In the course of his study he looks at  such well-known biblical stories such as the seven days of creation, Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, the conflict between Cain and Able, Noah and the flood, and the rise of nations from Noah’s descendants. All, he says, have very strong narrative connections to well-known Egyptian traditions.

Only after the Babylonians and Assyrians exercised military control over Israel, did the Genesis scribes lose touch with their Egyptian roots. This resulted in literary attempts to modify and transform the earlier stories so that they harmonized with the cultural traditions of their conquerors. Greenberg traces many of the literary trails that led from stories with Egyptian origins to new versions based on Babylonian era modifications.

Greenberg has appeared on numerous radio, television, and podcast shows to discuss his works and is a lively speaker and engaging debater. He is available for interviews, Q and A’s, articles, guest lectures, and debates.

Praise for Greenberg’s Previous Books on the Bible

“[Greenberg] seems to delight in a game of scholarly ‘gotcha.’ ” – N. Y. Times

“Fascinating and thought provoking.” – Today’s Librarian

“Guaranteed to raise hackles and lively debate.” – Denver Post

“Ingenious.” – St. Louis Post-Dispatch

“Intriguing and controversial.” – Multi-cultural Review

“A riveting read.” – Florence SC News

“A must read.” – The Tennessee Tribune

“Will make for lively dinner table discussions.” – Spokesman-Review

“Will make you think.” – Green Bay Press-Gazette

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Gary Greenberg, former President of the Biblical Archaeology Society of New York, is the author of several books on biblical and Near Eastern history, including the biblical classics 101 Myths of the Bible and The Moses Mystery, as well as several peer-reviewed books about the Bible from academic presses. He is one of the world’s foremost authorities on the subject of Israel’s origins as an Egyptian people and its subsequent use of Egyptian history, literature and myth as the foundational source for its own origin stories. His books have been distributed worldwide in several non-English editions.

He has published articles in scholarly Egyptological journals and several essays on the academic web-site Bible and Interpretation He has also presented numerous papers at the annual conferences of several prestigious academic conferences, including the International Society of Biblical Literature, the International Congress of Egyptologists, the American Research Center in Egypt, and the American Society of Overseas Research. He served as a consultant to National Geographic Television’s documentary on Cain and Abel. He maintains a website at www.biblemythhistory.com.

Greenberg attended Brooklyn College, where he majored in Mathematics, and received a Juris Doctor degree from Seton Hall University School of Law.

Genesis Chronology and Egyptian King-Lists: The Egyptian Origins of Genesis History, Volume II: Egypt’s Mythological Period will be released September 5, 2022

REVIEW COPIES AVAILABLE UPON REQUEST

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A gift for my subscribers

Today is the official release day for my new book, Genesis Chronology and Egyptian King-Lists: The Egyptian Origins of Genesis History, Volume II: Egypt’s Mythological Period. I have put a few complimentary copies aside for my subscribers, on a first come-first serve basis. If you would like to receive a copy, send me an email through this site with your name and mailing address. All I ask is that you commit to posting a review on Amazon with whatever your honest opinion of the book may be. Indicate in the email that you will post a review in return for receiving a copy.

For the first time in over 2,000 years, I have published the only complete and accurate account of Egypt’s mythological chronology.

Shu separating Heaven (Nut) and Earth (Geb)

In Genesis Chronology and Egyptian King-Lists: The Egyptian Origins of Genesis History, Volume II: Egypt’s Mythological Chronology (hereinafter GKL2), I move from Volume I’s examination of Egypt’s dynastic history and its corresponding chronology in Genesis to Egypt’s mythological chronology and its correspondences in Genesis. But there is a major problem that has to be solved before that can be done. What was Egypt’s mythological chronology?

Update: Genesis Chronology and Egyptian King-Lists, Volume II, Egypt’s Mythological Period

I haven’t posted in a while because I have been quite busy trying to finish my follow-up to Genesis Chronology and Egyptian King-Lists: The Egyptian Origins of Genesis History, Volume I: Egypt’s Historical Period. I published that in 2019. I had planned to write and release the second volume  by mid-2021 at the latest. However, 2020 was taken up by completion of my 700-page treatise on the gospels, The Case for a Proto-Gospel, which carried me to the end of 2020.

When I began work on the second volume, I thought it would go rather quickly since it covered a much smaller portion of the Genesis chronology, and I assumed it would be a good bit shorter than the previous volume I. Instead, when I got to the formatting stage, it was shocked to discover that it was about 50 per cent longer than Volume I. In fact, it is the second longest book I have written, weighing in at over 400 pages.

Volume II, covering Egypt’s Mythological Chronology is now completed and, barring any more glitches (Microsoft Word can throw a lot your way) the book should be released by September 5th, in both hardcopy and paperback. I think it’s a terrific read if you’re into this aspect of Egyptian and biblical history. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised, perhaps shocked, by many of the revelations.

Over the next few days, I’ll post some further information on the book. I also plan to make a few complimentary copies available to my subscribers. Stay tuned for details of the offer.

Update: The Case for a Proto-Gospel

I have been advised by Peter Lang Publishers that a paperback version of “The Case for a Proto-Gospel”, my peer-reviewed treatise on the literary origins of the Gospels, should be at the printers by mid-June. Because this is an academic work from a scholarly publisher, it is not cheap, but the paperback edition will be substantially less expensive that the hardcover version.

Why Can’t We Date the Exodus? Part 9, My Take: The Parameters

Editorial note: I originally intended to wrap up this series with the present post, but it was becoming far longer than I expected. So, I am publishing it in at least three parts. The present essay is “My Take: the Parameters.The follow-up post will be My Take: a Proposed Date for the Exodus. The final post, I hope, will be My Take: the Exodus in its Historical Context.

The Egyptian god Thoth, watching over a scribe

For Part 1, Introduction go here

For Part 2, Merneptah and the Book of Judges go here

For Part 3, The Problem of Solomon’s Chronology go here

For Part 4, The 430-year Sojourn go here

For Part 5, The 400 years of slavery go here

For Part 6, The Hyksos Theory go here

For Part 7, The Osarseph Theory, go here

For Part 8, The Chaeremon Theory, go here

To establish a plausible date for the Exodus, we need to find a balance among four different parameters. (1) Do we date biblical events using the traditional Jewish date of Creation at 3761 BCE, or do we have to move the Creation date back to an earlier time? (2) Do we use biblical dating or historical dating? (3) Do we date events in Egypt based on the High Chronology or the Low Chronology? (4) Does the chosen Exodus date show a parallel relationship between the events in the biblical account and events in Egypt?

Because of potential plausibility issues in the biblical story, such as miracles, conflicts within the biblical chronological data, and conflicts over the Egyptian chronology, there may not be a perfect solution that precisely aligns all four factors. However, whatever date presents the best balance among these four parameters is likely to be the best solution.

In my book, Genesis Chronology and Egyptian King-Lists: The Egyptian Origins of Genesis Chronology, Volume I, Egypt’s Dynastic Period, I examined the relationship between Genesis Chronology and Egyptian Chronology. Genesis has a chronology that provides a continuous record of Patriarchal birth and death dates running through twenty-three generations, beginning with the birth of Adam and ending with the death of Joseph. If one had a fixed date for any of these births or deaths, one could establish a set of dates for each birth and death in the sequence. Using the traditional Jewish date of Creation, I calculated each of these birth and death dates.

Why Can’t We Date the Exodus? Part 8, the Chaeremon Theory

Emperor Nero, who was tutored by Chaeremon

For Part 1, Introduction go here

For Part 2, Merneptah and the Book of Judges go here

For Part 3, The Problem of Solomon’s Chronology go here

For Part 4, The 430-year Sojourn go here

For Part 5, The 400 years of slavery go here

For Part 6, The Hyksos Theory go here

For Part 7, The Osarseph Theory, go here

Chaeremon, an Egyptian priest who tutored Emperor Nero, wrote a version of the Exodus story that had a number of similarities to Manetho’s Osarseph story but had enough differences to suggest that he worked from a different source than Manetho did. If so, then there would have been multiple versions of Egyptian Exodus accounts in the Egyptian libraries. You may want to first reread the Osarseph theory in Part 7 to refresh your recollection as there will be some references to that installment.

Chaeremon wrote in the first century and was a contemporary of Josephus. The latter was responsible for preserving Chaeremon’s account. (See Against Apion 1.32–33. You can read Josephus’s account and his comments here.) Here is what he says.

Why Can’t We Date the Exodus? Part 7, the Osarseph Theory

Pharaoh Akhenaten and his family. (Photo from KMT magazine.)

For Part 1, Introduction go here

For Part 2, Merneptah and the Book of Judges go here

For Part 3, The Problem of Solomon’s Chronology go here

For Part 4, The 430-year Sojourn go here

For Part 5, The 400 years of slavery go here

For Part 6, The Hyksos Theory go here

It is relatively common among biblical and Egyptological scholars to claim that there is no Egyptian evidence indicating the Exodus took place. This isn’t actually true. The problem is that the Egyptian account is embarrassing to biblical and Egyptological scholars and they would prefer that it didn’t exist. We’ll get to the reason for that below.

From about the third century B.C.E. through the first century C.E. Egyptian, Greek, Jewish, and Roman historians produced a body of literature describing an Egyptian point of view about the events leading to the Exodus. Not all of these stories look alike, with very different characters in the narratives, but a case can be made that despite the very different details they can all be traced back to the writings of Manetho, a third-century B.C.E. Egyptian priest and historian. I won’t be exploring all of the stories in this series, but I do cover many of them in my book The Moses Mystery. In the present series, I will just cover two of the stories.

In this installment, I’ll look at the version attributed to Manetho by the first-century Jewish historian Josephus. (Manetho’s manuscript is lost to history and we have only later redactions appearing in various historical writings.) In the next installment, I’ll look at a different version preserved by Chaeremon, a tutor to Emperor Nero. That version is also preserved by Josephus.

I’ll begin with the Manetho story. It appears in Josephus’s Contra Apionem, I. 26–31, §§ 227–287. (PDF of Josephus’s Contra Apionem here.) The implications aren’t immediately obvious and require historical context. It is the implications of the story that are highly controversial. It’s a long narrative and, in the interest of space, I’ll just summarize the highlights.

According to Josephus, Manetho said that the Jewish ancestors came to Egypt and gained mastery over the country but that at a later date they were driven out of Egypt, occupied Judea, founded Jerusalem, and built the Temple. So we begin the narrative with a twist. The Egyptians didn’t try to keep the Israelites in Egypt as slaves. The Egyptians drove them out because they were dominating Egypt.

Despite this initial twist, Josephus says that up to this point Manetho followed the chronicles, but then he introduced legends and gossip about the Jews. He did this to confuse the Hebrews with a crowd of Egyptians, who, for leprosy and other maladies, were banished from the country.

After denouncing Manetho for some allegedly clumsy history of the Egyptian kings (probably due to redactors rather than Manetho himself), Josephus accuses Manetho of inserting a fictitious king named Amenophis into the record. Amenophis is the Greek rendering of the Egyptian name Amenhotep. This king Amenophis had a desire to look upon the gods. A seer advised the king that he could see the gods if he would cleanse the land of lepers and other polluted peoples. (These would be the Egyptians that Josephus claims were being deliberately confused with the Jews.)

The king rounded up over 80,000 such individuals, segregated them from the other Egyptians, and put them to work in the stone quarries. But the seer became frightened at what happened and feared that the people would be outraged if they learned about it. He predicted that the polluted ones would join with allies and seize control of Egypt for thirteen years. He then wrote down what happened and committed suicide.

After some period of hardship, the polluted ones begged the king to allow them to live in the deserted city of Avaris, which had been the capitol of the “shepherd kings” before they were driven out of the country. As noted in Part 6 (go here,) Josephus’s “shepherd-kings” were the Hyksos rulers of Egypt, whose expulsion from Egypt he equated with the Exodus. The king consented.

Using the city as a base, the polluted ones planned a revolution. The polluted ones fortified the city and prepared for war. They appointed as their leader a priest from Heliopolis named Osarseph. This priest declared that they shouldn’t worship the Egyptian gods and that they should destroy and consume the sacred animals. He also challenged many other Egyptian laws and customs.

Osarseph sent messages to the “shepherd kings” in Jerusalem and promised them all sorts of benefits in Egypt if they joined with him against the king. A deal was reached and 200,000 soldiers joined Osarseph and the polluted ones in Avaris. When the king learned of the invasion he remembered the prophecy and issued orders. The Egyptian priests were to gather the sacred animals and hide the images of the gods.

As to his five-year-old son, “Sethos also called Ramesses,” the child was sent into hiding. Amenophis raised an army of 300,000 warriors and marched out against the invading army. But at the last minute, fearing that he would be violating the prophecy of the gods by going to war, he got cold feet and he retreated to the city of Memphis, bringing with him the sacred animals. From Memphis he went to Ethiopia, to wait out the thirteen years.

The alliance of Shepherds and polluted ones seized control of the country and brutalized the people, making the earlier Shepherd rule seem like a paradise. They burned villages, pillaged the temples, and butchered the beasts. Manetho, according to Josephus, says “it is said that the priest who framed their constitution and their laws was a native of Heliopolis, named Osarseph after the god Osiris, worshipped at Heliopolis; but when he joined this people he changed his name and was called Moses [emphasis added].

This is a key controversial point. Manetho identifies Moses as an Egyptian priest who led a rebellion against the country’s ruling class. Thirteen years later, according to the prophecy, Amenophis’s son, “Sethos also called Ramesses,” raised an army and forced the alliance of Shepherds and polluted ones out of Egypt.

Josephus makes several arguments that challenge Manetho’s accounts, several of them based on what he considers logical flaws in the story, most of which I pass over here. Since Josephus had previously described the Shepherds as the Israelites who left Egypt, he argued that it is clear that the people who initially opposed Amenophis were Egyptians, not Hebrews. In opposition to this rebuttal to Manetho, it should be noted that the bible placed the start of the Israelite nation in Egypt, when Jacob, also known as Israel, moved there with his family. For at least two centuries or more, depending on one’s chronological theories, the Israelites were for all practical purposes an Egyptian people, who did not even know the name of the Israelite god until after the Exodus. Josephus also offered an argument that it would be unlikely that the Shepherds would have joined with the polluted ones, although that seems to be rather a weak counterclaim. Other objections had some merit.

As to Moses being Osarseph, Josephus argued that “the Egyptians regard him as a wonderful, even a divine being, but wish to claim him as their own by an incredible calumny, alleging that he belonged to Heliopolis and was dismissed from his priesthood there owing to leprosy.” Moses, however, according to the biblical account, was raised as a member of the royal family and would have almost certainly been educated at Heliopolis, a chief educational center for the Egyptian elite.

Josephus then added that Moses belonged 518 years earlier, when the Shepherds were expelled from Egypt. (Manetho’s chronology was badly distorted by redactors, and he assigned 518 years to the Hyksos kings, although we now know the entire Hyksos era was less than two hundred years, and the effective control of Egypt by the Hyksos lasted only about a century)

I want to make a couple of brief observations about three points in the story, and then get down to what causes controversy about this episode, other than just the name of Moses being inserted into the account. One is the desire to see the gods. Another is about leprosy. The third is about the child being hidden away.

In Exodus, Moses expressed a desire to see God. As a result, he suffered some sort of skin disease. Consequently, he wore a mask over his mouth.

The wearing of a mask over the mouth was a standard regulation in Leviticus for persons suffering from leprosy. Both his brother Aaron and his sister Miriam, according to the biblical account, were stricken with leprosy and Moses had to intervene with god to have them cured. Furthermore, the book of Leviticus devotes a large portion of its narrative to dealing with the problem of leprosy. So, the connection to Israelites having leprosy has literary parallels in the bible.

Additionally, in both stories, the desire to see God has some ramifications. Moses suffered a skin disease and the pharaoh eventually went into hiding. Donald Redford, a highly respected Egyptologist, contends that “’seeing the gods’ and the desire to do so are themes well known in Egyptian literature (Pharaonic King-Lists, Annals and Day-Books, 250). That the bible claims Moses shared this desire doesn’t necessarily prove that the Osarseph story is true, but it does suggest literary connections between the biblical narrative and Egyptian literary traditions, which is interesting in its own right.

Lastly, Moses was famously hidden away as a child to avoid being put to death by an oppressive ruler, left the country as an adult out of fear of being arrested for murder, and returned many years later to confront and defeat the oppressors. The Osarseph story provides a mirror image of that narrative. The child “Sethos also known as Ramesses” was hidden away from the oppressive ruler to avoid being put to death and returned as an adult to confront and defeat the oppressor. In the Osarseph story, however, it is the child’s father who flees the country to avoid punishment because of his behavior. If one wants to find parallels between the Osarseph story and the Exodus account, they are present.

Putting aside any arguments for the credibility of the Manetho story, most critics of the Osarseph story simply reject it as an obvious fiction not worthy of comment (although little argument is provided for this opinion.) It helps that the assertion that Osarseph was Moses consists of a single sentence that is easily removable without disrupting the remaining Egyptian narrative. Most go as far as to say that enemies of Judaea invented the charge to discredit the Hebrew nation, that some scribe maliciously inserted the Osarseph-Moses passage into a Manetho text that subsequently received wide circulation before it found its way into Josephus’s hands.

After all, attacking the Jewish people for refusing honors to the non-Jewish gods was something of a cottage industry in the Greco-Roman era. In fact, Josephus wrote Contra Apionem to specifically refute anti-Jewish attacks by the Egyptian writer Apion, who engaged in scurrilous condemnations of the Jewish people.

Redford, while rejecting the historicity of the Osarseph story, does, though, trace it back to pre-Manetho literary traditions that Manetho tapped into, giving the underlying narrative an even earlier historical provenance. Two common literary traditions, he says, “invasion” and Plague/expulsion,” can be traced back to pre-Manetho times (Redford, 291.)

The invasion theme is usually an after-effect of the Hyksos era, which surfaces here in the Osarseph story and in other Egyptian literature. Redford does note, however, that there are some details in the Manetho account that vary from earlier versions of the plague/expulsion theme. Nevertheless, Redford writes, “I do not think this secondary hodge-podge derives from Manetho himself. In all likelihood, he is here, as elsewhere simply paraphrasing, if not translating, a demotic original which he found among his library sources.”

So, given that the story may be easily dismissible, whether true or not, what is the hubbub about. The problem is the history that forms the background to this narrative. Egyptologists readily admit that Manetho’s tale presents a disguised (white-washed?) account of events under pharaoh Akhenaten. This pharaoh’s fame stems from the fact that he introduced a form of monotheism into Egyptian religion, declaring the Aten to be the sole god.

He sent hordes of workers to chisel out the names of other deities from monuments and challenged the domination of the Amen cult that controlled Egyptian religious practices in the Eighteenth Dynasty. After he died there was a counter-revolution and his successor, the child known as Tutankhamen, whose original name was Tutankhaten, served as a bridge from which the Amen cult reasserted authority. Shortly thereafter, the Amen cult under Pharaoh Horemheb began a campaign of oppression and persecution towards those who were prominent in the Aten cult or who remained followers of his teachings.

Akhenaten’s name was originally Amenhotep, the fourth pharaoh of that dynasty with the same name. This is the name Greeks rendered as Amenophis, the name of the pharaoh in the Osarseph story who fled the country. In Akhenaten’s fifth year on the throne, he changed his name to Akhenaten and began his attack on the Amen cult elites. His revolution lasted for thirteen years and ended when he died.

Notably, in the Osarseph story, the reign of terror begins in the fifth year of Amenophis’s son, Sethos also called Ramesses,” and ends thirteen years later when the child returns and expels the polluted ones and their Hyksos allies. Clearly, the child functions as a placeholder for Akhenaten’s revolutionary time frame and serves to eliminate Akhenaten as the perpetrator of his religious revolution, casting blame instead on the polluted ones and the Hyksos invaders.

Could Akhenaten be connected to the Exodus? The Jewish tradition that would place the Exodus in the year 131 (see Part 4: The 430-Year Sojourn here) places it right at the end of the counter-revolution against Akhenaten’s religious reforms. Yet, no scholar, Jewish or otherwise, wants to study what this date means for the historical context of the Exodus. They just don’t want to trace the origins of Judaism and Christianity to a pagan religious revolution. Every academic theory of the Exodus tries to place it either well before or long after the Akhenaton era. I’ll have more to say about the connection between Akhenaten and the Exodus in a later installment.

Coming up next: Part 8, The Chaeremon Theory.

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