[b-hebrew] Shishak

MarianneLuban at aol.com MarianneLuban at aol.com
Thu Aug 26 16:50:47 EDT 2004

In a message dated 8/26/2004 1:07:19 PM Pacific Daylight Time, 
formoria at carolina.rr.com writes:

> I must say, Marianne, that your post has an elitist tone which is quite 
> disturbing. Scholars are not a priesthood who can only be questioned 
> seriously by other priests. We must not undervalue the perspective of 
> the fresh eye, no matter whence it comes.

I made no ecclesiastical references.  Egyptology is not a religion.  Within 
framework, questioners have often been branded "heretics".  Egyptology does 
not take this view.  It has to be humbler than that.  Why?  I'll leave it to 
the late Sir Alan Gardiner to explain: " It must never be forgotten that we are 
dealing with a civilization thousands of years old and one of which only tiny 
remnants have survived. What is proudly advertised as Egyptian history is 
merely a collection of rags and tatters."  Regardless of the absolute truth of 
that statement, more than a hundred years of modern scholarship has gone into 
examining those "rags and tatters" and it must be respected.   Rohl chose to 
tackle the subject of chronology, a difficult matter to begin with, but most of 
his arguments must be weak because they are mere suppositions.  
Egypt is a land with one river and a thousand hypotheses.  Anybody can 
formulate a theory, but it is the backing up of the theory that convinces.
This is where Rohl generally gets into hot water.  I am speaking only of his 
"Pharaohs and Kings", the only book by him I have read.  But that one was 
enough for me--because of the previous two sentences.

Egyptologist Kenneth Kitchen has remarked that "the Second Intermediate 
Period is the graveyard of many chronological essays".  Unfortunately, the Biblical 
books of Genesis and Exodus are closely connected to this elusive time of 
ancient Egyptian history.  It is, in a sense, the intervening page that divides 
these two books, albeit a most friable and fragmentary one.  Kitchen, von 
Beckerath, Helck, Ryholt and others have wrestled mightily with the timeline of 
ancient Egypt in their scholarly works and Peter Clayton has turned it into a 
popular book, Chronicle of the Pharaohs.  I accept Clayton's dates, for the most 
part, because he agrees with me that 1570 BCE should be a better year for the 
accession of the 18th Dynasty than later dates that have been proposed.  
Clayton also gives, as a 16th Dynasty, some chieftains with Semitic names, which 
strikes me as a nod to the historic value of the Hebrew Bible and the existence 
of a pastoral nation, living in Egypt's Delta, that is distinct from the 15th 
Dynasty "Hyksos", and which is likely to be the proto-Jews.

> Answer me this: Is Rohl a trained Egyptologist?

To the best of my recollection, Rohl wrote his "Pharaohs and King" while 
going for his Masters in Egyptology, which can be achieved in a single year in the 
UK.  In fact, that is the duration of the Master in Egyptology program at the 
London college which he attended.   Whether by now he has the doctorate or 
not--I don't know.  But what I said below still goes--for people who write in 
the field of Egyptology, formally trained or otherwise.

> Best Salaams,
> Brian Roberts
> On Thursday, August 26, 2004, at 03:10  PM, MarianneLuban at aol.com wrote:
> [snip]
> > But it is the point.  Egyptologists are learned in the field.  The is a 
> > good
> > reason why Rohl is popular with those who are not.  Think of Rohl as a 
> > kind of
> > lawyer.  He is articulate and knows how to make a good case.  Someone 
> > who
> > does not know the law could be swayed by his arguments quite easily.  
> > But a judge
> > or another attorney can spot the weaknesses in the case.  They know the
> > precedents and can tell when another lawyer is making a point that 
> > "will not wash"
> > within that framework.  You may think this is "apples and oranges"--but 
> > it
> > isn't.  Precedents are set only in unestablished law but the arguments 
> > for them
> > becoming precedents still have to be based on established law and 
> > deemed to be
> > sound and, of course, the buck stops at the highest court--or with 
> > congress, so
> > metimes.  By the same token, an Egyptologist has to operate within a
> > framework, too--that is rely on previous scholarship--points of which 
> > have been
> > extensively argued in the journals and books until a consensus has been 
> > reached.
> > This can be a very lengthy process, indeed, and is receives the 
> > contributions of
> > various specialists in aspects of the field.  However, in the instance 
> > of
> > Rohl, he has chosen an area where there is no consensus, that being the 
> > Bible vis
> > a vis Egyptian history.  Unfortunately for him, though, he has elected 
> > to
> > alter ANE chronology, a matter that has received very much 
> > consideration.
> > Therefore, unless his arguments are very excellent, they are bound to 
> > be rejected
> > within the framework.  But Rohl knew that when he went in.  Your 
> > statement that
> > the "establishment" is required to make sound arguments to disprove him 
> > if
> > they do not agree with his assertions is incorrect.  If Rohl wants to 
> > set new
> > precedents, it is *he* who is required to make the sound arguments, not 
> > vice
> > versa.  If not, he loses in the lower court or it is simply a matter of 
> > "case
> > dismissed" because of a brief that relies on an untenable premise.  It 
> > is not
> > encumbent upon Egyptology to address any and all "crackpot theories".  
> > I am not
> > calling Rohl a crackpot because in a certain area he has done well--and 
> > that is
> > in dealing with the TIP.  But the TIP is late in Egyptian history and 
> > the
> > alteration of its chronology does nothing to change the chronology in 
> > retrospect.
> > Only prospectively.  And only by around 140 years.   No matter what, 
> > this
> > still does not make Ramesses II the "Shishak" of the Bible by anybody's 
> > math.
> > All it can do is make the dates assigned to world history higher until 
> > the Dark
> > Ages when perspective becomes muddied.  The fact is, we say it is 2004 
> > CE, but
> > nobody really knows exactly what year it is.  You may notice we are
> > discussing Manetho and the viability of what he wrote, but you would be 
> > surprised to
> > know just how much of accepted Egyptian chronology is based on him--and 
> > the
> > dates given in the Bible, as well.  There is no alternative because the 
> > Egyptians
> > did not use a running calendar like the Julian, Gregorian or Hebrew.  
> > Each
> > time a new king was crowned, it was Year One all over again by their 
> > civil
> > calendar.  And, if some dynasties happened to be ruling concurrently, 
> > so much the
> > worse.
> > _______________________________________________b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org

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