The Science And the Historical Moses 

 

Will new discoveries which are generated and developed outside
the established institutions risk an unwelcome reception? In present
research Moses is often reduced to a mere myth. However, the book-series, “Assassinating Moses”, throws fresh light on the matter, and transfers
Moses from the myth back to his place in history.


Ove von Spaeth’s books about the historical Moses present and put into perspective rediscovered elements in a historical connection of importance and still of current interest also in relation to religion and philosophy. This has also provoked a debate, which - besides useful counter-reasoning - also casts the irrational shadow of scientific prejudice.

           The aim of science is not to establish self-defence! Yet the reception of the books has often been what one could call ‘interesting’ due to certain peculiar reactions. The following survey provides the detached reader with the opportunity to know the counter-arguments to the criticism - perhaps with the risk of wanting to find out more and read the books about the dramatic fate of Moses and his influence on history of later times.
 

Heretical?

 The essence of science is critical scrutiny. Therefore, it is both natural and desirable that new discoveries introduced in the present book-series about Moses are subjected to even very close criticism and analysis. It is extremely important that possible errors are examined - because one can relate to errors - whereas if the situation is left unclear it may have an unfortunate influence on the appraisal of the contents of the books. 

          One volume after another has constantly presented further data and concrete examples. Therefore, it is strange that this new research is still being criticized with undocumented statements - even repeated ones used in an eternal circuit and which have already been presented by strangely indignant university academics when the first volume of the book-series about Moses was published. (Documentation can be seen on  www.moses-egypt.net , the books’ own website). - But the books present exact results on the basis of acknowledged facts, and it is plain to see that they are also legitimately in accordance with arguments based on relevant data; this being done in a non-polemic way. Even so - the contents are considered heretical by certain parties.

           From the very beginning it was presented as basically inflammatory that an independent, untraditional researcher was attempting from an over-all viewpoint to call attention to some major historical connections - from new angles and cutting across the dividing lines between subjects. This unorthodox messenger is hardly the right target. The real target should be the very ancient material - in itself re-orientating - which seriously challenges some aspects of conventional science. Thus, on the basis of their naturally limited specialities certain groups of academics refuse dogmatically and - alas - arrogantly to consider such general connections.

           In principle the basis of all science is to wonder; yet, if the agents of science are without criticism towards the hitherto accepted and acknowledged, they are unable to wonder. Progress may sometimes be blocked by a surfeit of knowledge - preventing even the casting of a glance at something new. 

          Again, the main focus of science is not to establish self-defence! The books have been welcomed in various and sometimes aggressive ways - to which there is nothing else to be said but - so be it! Please note that on further undocumented criticism of the same general kind, exact answers can be found on these pages - and have already been given on several occasions. But of course new criticism will be responded to.
 

Sources and Myths, - and Distinguishing ‘Relative’ from ‘Absolute’

A number of concrete examples show that some of the critics have focused, unfortunately, on their own profiling and theories as being the main issue instead of the subject which is being dealt with. On this basis the present work’s comprehensive evidence material appears to create the fear amongst these critics that acceptance of its results may mean that part of their own works could be subject to doubt.

 1.       Normally no exact dating is known for the said historical period of Moses, yet the dating used in the book-series on Moses is without further proof accused of being unacceptably incorrect. This is not the case - unfortunately, in this field, scientists often maintain that the dating of ancient information should only be fixed as being the (relative) moment in time when the physical recording was made. This especially because such more easily found, relative moments on time for the actual recording of the old texts just as easily become a “valid” truth.
          If, instead, an attempt is made to approach a real (i.e. an absolute) age of the said historical circumstances, a somewhat changed estimate of time for the Egyptian and Jewish historical periods in question could be the outcome. Many researchers might see this as “undesirable”, because it may lead to some readjustments within the hitherto often used concept called relative chronology.

 2.       Without any basis in documentation the books have been accused in general of using erroneous sources. This is not correct. One of the principles used in the books is to approach apparently strange and myth-like sources with an open mind and not to discard them indiscriminately. First, an investigation is carried out to see if circumstances in the source material can be at all realistic in historical reality. By, for instance, checking time data (especially astronomical data) of a source, one can of course better clarify or reject its reliability. - Only if the result is found reasonable can it be considered as a basis for taking one step further in the investigation of the source. Well-known and highly respected researchers have always used this method. So, why should the method not be recognized in the present case?

3.       When the books use ancient sources which in some cases were recorded later than the time of the theme in question, this has been criticized again and again by certain branches of research and labelled as incorrect use. It is wrong to make such a claim without scrutinizing the context (presented openly in the books).
          The essential point about the books’ use of such sources is that in these texts many handed down comments are presented concerning some events only rediscovered in present times and accurately documented in historical detail - i.e. events that have taken place many hundred years or more prior to a later written recording of the text. Therefore the late writers in question cannot possibly themselves have experienced or been aware of these events in any other way than as exact references from traditions of an earlier date. Especially in the relevant cases nobody would be able to reject such a source as unreliable or as pure imagination.
          (For instance, in northern Europe, local place names may be from 500 to 2,000 years older than the time recorded in our oldest historical sources. When an oral tradition can be much older than texts handed down, nobody would insist on dating a place name, for instance the Danish city Odense which is connected with the god Odin, so obviously late as to the first written sources about the place from maybe as recently as the 15th century). 

4.       Also - the books investigate often less researched areas, where only a limited number of sources exists. Some critics attempt to justify their rejection of the published results by claiming that, at the same time, conflicting sources which might challenge the discoveries have not been presented. This despite the fact that these are the cases where such sources do not exist. When in this way a researching tool is automatically put forward, also when - as in this case - it cannot be used, it becomes a somewhat parodic procedure which have nothing to do with true research. Characteristically, the critics in question has not yet pointed out and substantiated just one example of their claims that erroneous sources have been used in the books.

5.       The biblical so-called myths about, for instance, the Hittites proved to be true history after excavation of the capital of this nation. In the same way, great archaeologists and discoverers have decoded other claimed unhistorical myths - and thus found, for instance, Troy, “the tomb of Agamemnon”, Knossos, the Labyrinth, and even an entire ancient people, the Minoans, as well as the linear-B tables in primary Greek, etc. Until his tomb was opened in the 1950’s, King Midas was considered a myth. Some of the greatest archaeological findings all over the world have been found in the same way on the basis of exact information in several thousand-year-old myths and legends. Even Buddha was called a myth, until British archaeologists’ excavations in the 1880’s in northern India definitively disproved this.
           When the exodus of Moses and the Israelites from Egypt and their invasion into Canaan are rejected by researchers simply by claiming that these events are myths because no traces have been found of this invasion - also this is absolutely wrong. These rejections are unscientifically founded on a contradictory mix-up and often presented as if the critics could be in possession of concrete traces of an Israelite emigration that had definitely not taken place. And even though Israel is one of the archaeologically most excavated sites, it is a fact that 95 per cent of that country has not yet been excavated/examined.
          At the universities a paradoxical phenomenon actually exists (accentuated, now when also the Humanities are designated “science”, so that Physical Science must then be designated Exact Science - being an absolute science), because in the fields of theology, biology, and anthropology etc. completely different explanations are given about large, central subjects of common interest; for instance about the origin of history. Absolutely no firm academic unity can be found here.
          On this background, and when, regarding the subject matter of the books, it is so often insistently maintained that “Moses belongs to myths”, the critics ought to answer, first of all, the following questions, “Just how do you know? Have you ever investigated this?” Yet, the myth postulate is hardly ever put forward as a question, but stated as an unshakeable law of nature. But of course no consensus can be valid as a final scientific decision. Once there was a consensus of opinion that the earth was flat. 

6.       A lot of documentation is in existence concerning the ancient mystery plays, but only little research has been done on this topic. Insight in the mystery elements is the very key to the many less understandable parts of the Bible and other ancient texts. What was said and done through acting the parts of these plays had an effect both politically and linguistically.
          Concrete examples of all this are presented in these books on Moses - from a knowledge not normally appearing on the schedule of the universities. A young Egyptologist, a text researcher of the University of Copenhagen, with a proclaimed dislike of the books has in the media attacked them for using this knowledge which elucidates a special rite in Egypt. He seriously used as evidence that “he has never come across this” - rather more arrogant than his few years of research experience could justify. A decisive point is to develop a better historical consciousness of the major importance attached to the performance of ancient times’ mystery plays, where the participants performed and lived through such mythological actions of the gods.

 

Vital Element

Naturally, it can in no way be in the readers’ interest to receive erroneous versions of the subjects and goals of the books, goals which instead aim at innovative thinking and re-examining of dogma. But normally, the critics - who cannot of course be omniscient - ought to be sober-minded and fair as well.

           However, it is regrettable to learn that critics and editors, many from different research backgrounds, attack the books on subjects not even dealt with, or to excess, repeat others’ incorrect criticism without having read the books at all - perhaps a kind of lemming effect. They should not be beyond the responsibility required in other areas of our society, where most of us are subject to, for instance, our legislation’s Marketing Act, section 2 - so important in everyday life; this law makes it completely illegal to use incorrect, misleading, and unfairly insufficient statements which may influence the public’s acceptance. According to section 2, clause 4, the accuracy of statements about actual conditions must be documented. If the respect for such a codex or the like is ignored, it will, unfortunately, be easier for the critics to refrain from relating truthfully to the facts.

           In addition to clarifying explicit facts, the books also attach importance to communication as a vital element itself especially in the form of readability and relevance. But even though this has contributed to improved interest in the books in broad circles, this very fact alone is considered to be yet another suspect point as far as university people are concerned (quote: “cock-and-bull-story”, “fiction”, etc). However, a significant number of exact examples are presented in the books together with an unusual amount of sources, also those which have previously been ignored.

           Unfortunately, a number of scientific critics have rejected in public the thoroughly documented basis material of these books on Moses without feeling the need for closer argumentation. Instead it would be more than welcome if opportunities were to emerge where it would be possible to respond to concrete questions. Many debates might develop from the comprehensive material used in the books. The material is expressly at the disposal of the readers and is naturally open to debate in wider circles.


Interdisciplinary Research

 So far, traditional research has not in general been open to curiosity regarding this new step. It has not been included as an innovative starting-point for a debate and made use of the effect which could stimulate public interest for the scientific area in question. Nor has anybody considered using the source material - however exceptional - in order to find elements which could be useful in further research.

           Within, for instance, environmental or industrial research it is quite normal to make unified evaluations based on data collected from a number of exact-scientific disciplines. However, within the humanities - which are often unaccustomed to interdisciplinary research - it can be observed in several cases that their researchers found it easier to ignore factual results. - If a scientist discovers that his professional competence is out of step with the realities of the world, he may for instance give up any wish he might have to possess a kind of knowledge monopoly and instead update his knowledge - or he may turn away and denounce the new knowledge.

           Thus, the said conduct must be less compatible with the essence and concept of science itself when, for instance, academics and scholars - even those with fine titles and so-called highly responsible positions, disclaim a cool scientific attitude and - it cannot be concealed - adopt a shrill indignant tone, and sometimes play unfair tricks (again, several unbecoming examples). This being done in spite of the existence of both public and professional forums for genuine debates on presented results.

            The academics in question might believe that they have some special interests to defend - sometimes based on an implicit ‘authority’ to decide what should be the correct view. Unfortunately, such arbitrary, self-confirming attempts to control opinions - by actions often invisible from the outside - are strictly against precious traditions for freedom of research and speech.

            Many such critics even act as “experts” in areas far beyond their own professional limits, as if they were absolutely sure that the book-series about Moses is wrong, and they are so sure that they feel they do not have to read the books more closely or check any sources. In his much respected standard work, “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions” from the early 1960’s, Thomas Kuhn has thus explained the professionals’ inherent resistance to innovation. This is basic scientific theory material at today’s universities.

            It is fair to ask what kind of mechanisms can bring about such irrational behaviour. Leon Festinger, the great American expert on social psychology, established in a famous study in the 1950’s that a person’s already existing store of knowledge and attitudes have a great influence on how he or she interprets new information.

            This theory about the way the brain processes what is known as “inharmonious” information is still an appreciated classic within social psychology (besides now being a part of several serious systems of therapy, the essence of which was for instance already known in ancient Indian Vedanta philosophy several thousand years ago). In the long run it may be paralysing for a person to be unable to deal with what is immediately obvious - especially if his preconceived ideas prevent him from seeing what most others apparently see quite clearly.

           Just such a defence mechanism can be seen going into action if a row of researchers only believe that they are being attacked. In the present case irrespective of the fact that the book-series is not polemic. That specialists’ knowledge, which might be naturally limited within their fields, is thus extended with interdisciplinary perspectives given by an outsider is indeed an indispensable practice which can prevent us losing our breadth of outlook and becoming victims of particular interests of the individual groups with their specific world picture. This, because there is not necessarily a coherence between even serious university learning and the relevance of a genuinely existing knowledge and experience.

 

Against the Nature of Science

The contents of a 4,500-year-old papyrus-scroll (“Surgical Papyrus Edw. Smith”) reveal a knowledge of exact sciences in ancient Egypt, showing among other things its basis in (quote:) “weighing and measuring accurately”. Today the concept is extended, but still in principle a starting point in developed science. Likewise, it is natural in scientific research to incorporate a close investigational scepticism, otherwise anything could be approved and accepted.
          When criticizing other kinds of research - which are perhaps regarded as competitive - such criticism must be founded on seriousness and respect, precisely as is the case as in the execution of serious scientific research. Superficial generalizing and irresponsible emotional outbursts ignoring rational analysing evaluation do not belong here at all.
          Arguments and final decisions must be dealt with quite separately by the opponent - as the law separates the accusing and the judicial practice. If there are condemning arguments (quote: “This is a book that we are going to fight against for many years to come”) and accusatory judgments (quote: “The very publication is deeply disgracing and deeply untrustworthy”), these statements constitute a case of criticizable and unscientific confusion, such as - in this case - testing characteristics of the premisses of the work, and the very evaluation of the work. These confusions are against every scientific analytic principle and, unfortunately, provide a good “safe” reason for not reaching any trustworthy conclusion.
          During a lawsuit the accused is innocent until proven guilty. Nevertheless, the opposite principle can be seen now and then being practiced by a number of scientific representatives and institutions. By such self-staging judgmental power, the sentence is pronounced in advance and is published far and wide, all without a prior thorough and nuanced examination of the material. When severe, untrustworthy allegations and judgments then prove to be invalid, they are not withdrawn formally and apologized for. When placed in a wild jungle you are well aware that arrogance may result in death. And in research? Such arrogance makes the carrying out or evaluation of research impossible. Naturally, such a blockade kills any possibility for new insight.
          However, the number of published millimetres per column of scientific texts cannot decide the competence of a researcher, nor the number of visiting scientific conferences be most important, if - as is the case here - the consequences of a rather unusual source material in the book-series are to be evaluated. Basically, science as such has never been a case - based on some kind of accountancy ideal - of having something new necessarily fit into an established pattern. Otherwise so many great steps forward could never have been achieved. Science is, by nature, a self-correcting system - and new input appears every day.
          The research on Moses in the book-series which is built on qualitative methods - for instance by intensive, unprejudiced, source investigations - could not be without a thorough and scrutinizing opposition. Not least because, naturally, new results have to be accounted for to a higher degree than the well-known features.
 

          No books are faultless. However, when the author of the books takes full responsibility for his work and over the years stands up in defence of the main characteristics in this, and at the same time adopts a constructive attitude to criticism - this also leads to an understanding as to which parts of the opposition and the animosity are the problematic ones. It cannot be right that any author or researcher must limit himself to being “politically correct” and should avoid doing research in a more advanced way which might run the risk of crossing the boundaries of some academic-bureaucratic routines and perhaps disturb the somewhat tranquil waters of certain areas of research.


New Insight

 That which is unconventional and alternative will only remain so when new. And within a number of other specialist areas there is not the same fear of giving attention to unorthodox research, when it comes to searching for new insight. Research and methods of analysis based on the valuable existing scientific tradition must be upheld and at the same time be modified with the necessary extension of its preconditioned ways of thinking (paradigms). So, herewith no reluctance against the existing science and world of scientists, but a wish from the undersigned that the more and more necessary extension of the perspective will be a reality. Therefore - instead of, for instance, diversionary attacks against knowledge of another kind, a broader attitude could already be taken into use. It will be a part of the future anyway.

           The very designation ‘research’ and its related prestigious expressions have, of course, nothing to do with quality. Possibly some of the more irrelevant problems connected with this could be reduced - for instance by adopting the same procedureas Alexander Calder, who had the idea of calling his sculptures objects, in order to avoid the frequent debates as to whether or not his works were art. And the very book-series about the historical Moses - which according to the preface in each volume, is rather to be considered as an offer to other researchers - likewise could have outdistanced this kind of problem by being called perhaps “history enlightening information” or simply “records”. Yet again, it cannot be a main objective to avoid causing offence.

           In itself it is not especially interesting that the books are attacked with undocumented accusations. However, concentration on the essential - in contrast to such forms of, from a scientific point of view, diffuse criticism - is what really counts here: it is a fact beyond debate that this research on Moses has produced concrete results - they speak for themselves.

           The results are present, they can be measured, analysed, debated, and opposed. Certain parts may be changed or rejected, nobody is flawless, other parts may be consolidated. They exist - in fact for the first time - contrary to the situation hitherto, where plenty of hypotheses exist but never concrete facts containing substantial evidence.

           Nevertheless, many have erroneously assumed that the most well-known hypotheses through time about Moses - namely a Moses who is placed in other, later centuries, or a Moses as a total myth - was the veritable reality. Therefore, a special, defensive criticism arises when these constructions do not fit in with the new results. But it has simply been forgotten that they were only - and are - unproved hypotheses, i.e. a question of belief.

           And, although this additional book-promotion from the more “peculiar” critics may very well be useful, we should rather be looking forward to a more generous perspective; and that is to extend the fields of study to comprise the experience from a broader area than has been the case so far, in order to constructively and competently pave the way for greater openness - in everybody’s interest. 


Ove von Spaeth
 
Writer, Researcher - copyright © 2002  -  www.moses-egypt.net
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- parts of the information are from Ove von Spaeth’s
book-series on the historical Moses: Assassinating Moses

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