My book Thera and the Exodus has now been available at Amazon and other online stores since February 2013 and I initially presented several articles based on my book on my website, with the intent of giving potential readers a taste of what they might expect in the book. However, I feel that these articles no longer serve any purpose and after some positive but mostly negative feedback for reasons I discuss in Section 2.2 below, I feel obliged to make a statement about and pose a challenge or two to my critics. Hence, "A Final Word (for now)".
Book reviews are listed in Section 2.3, but note that in the words of Dr Mark Harris, a lecturer at the School of Divinity at the University of Edinburgh, whose interests include the study of realism in physics and theology and the lawfulness of nature, Thera and the Exodus presents ‘the most elaborate study’ on the topic. With Thera and the Exodus I indeed attempted to collect every shred of information on the Exodus, whether uncontested manuscripts or legends of disputed validity, and I leave it to the reader to draw his or her own conclusions. Thera and the Exodus comprises a bibliography of just over 190 books and articles and close to 1200 references - one of the most complete, if not the best, collections of Exodus related information published under single cover to date.
2.1 Thera and the Exodus order details
Click here for order information.
2.2 Thera and the Exodus - A Final Word (for now)
I have to confess that I was (and will probably continue to be) astounded by the lack of interest from academics and scholars in the field, despite my theories being well defended and referenced. I soon learned that the main reason for this apathy is the ‘olive tree’ radiocarbon dating of the eruption of Thera (modern Santorini) to ca. 1613 ą13 years BCE, which predates by 250 years not only the conventional dates of the Exodus, but also my proposed eruption date during the reign of Amenhotep III, ca. 1360 BCE. In the words of Eric Cline on the possibility of a link between the eruption of Thera and the Exodus,
"Yes, there's a consensus - it ain't true. ... The problem is the dating ... It cannot be connected, no matter what .. I can see why you're saying this, and here's why it's just not gonna work ..."
Those of you who have read Thera and the Exodus Chapter 19 will have noticed that I do recognise this as a huge problem with my hypothesis, and that I have tried to reconcile this eruption date with one during Amenhotep’s reign (1391-1353 BCE) in various ways. The most likely solution is suggested by the photographs in Figure 19.3, which show tsunami deposits on Crete containing rock-like fragments of solidified ash. This indicates that the tsunami must have shattered an earlier, continuous layer of solidified ash. According to Bruins and his colleagues these fragments were the remains of volcanic ash from the first phase of the eruption, “it can be concluded that airborne volcanic ash deposition over eastern Crete preceded the tsunami.” The tsunami was evidently caused by the 3rd or 4th phase of the eruption. A first-phase ash deposit on Crete would still have been just that – a layer of ash - when the tsunami struck a couple of hours or days later. A tsunami would simply have washed it away and any remaining deposits would not have had the rock-like appearance shown in their photographs. As it probably takes decades if not a century or two for volcanic ash to solidify into something resembling concrete stone, logic would dictate that the ash from which these fragments had been formed, must have come from an earlier eruption. The olive tree would have been buried in ash during this earlier eruption (in 1613 BCE). It would seem that a second eruption had occurred much later, blowing the thick first-eruption layer, that then covered the mouth of the volcano, high up into the air, which a strong south-eastern wind carried to Egypt.
The Greeks remember two distinct floods, namely the floods of Ogygus and Deucalion. These floods are recorded to have occurred between 200 and 300 years apart, with 250 years mentioned specifically. Assuming that the first eruption had occurred ca. 1613, 250 years later would give us a date of 1363 BCE, which would confirm my proposed date of 1360 BCE. Several extrabiblical accounts link Moses to both floods, and also the Exodus to the time of both floods. The flood of Ogygus is specifically recorded to have occurred during the reign of Ahmose, in which case a flooded Egypt as recorded in the Tempest Stele of Ahmose begins to make sense. A second erupotion between 200 and 300 years later would match an eruption during the reign of Amenhotep III. Just how these two eruptions had become merged into a single Exodus event is discussed in Thera and the Exodus.
Further confirmation of an eruption during the reign of Amenhotepp III is that scarabs of him were found in the ruins of Jericho, a city that was also destroyed by fire. The narrative of the shout of the soldiers that brought the walls tumbling down must have been based on the sonic boom of a volcanic eruption, followed by a tremendous earthquake that caused the walls to collapse. A scarab of Amenhotep III was also found in the ruins of the palace at Knossos, Crete. Like Jericho and Ugarit, Knossos was also destroyed by fire. It is generally assumed that the Knossos palace was abandoned during the Late Bronze Age (1380-110 BCE), which would match an eruption of Thera around 1360 BCE.
Even if scholars and Egyptologists should reject this second-eruption hypothesis, how would they explain the following?:
The plagues of Egypt
There are numerous aspects of the biblical plagues of Egypt that cannot be explained in any manner other than having been caused by a volcanic eruption. These include the 'wall(s) of water' (tsunami), the ash like soot from a fire that descended upon Egypt and which was so thick that people could neither see (the plague of darkness) and hardly breathe (dense volcanic ash), the discolouring of the water all across Egypt (the result of the ash fallout), the pillar of cloud by day which turned into a pillar of fire by night (the ash cloud of a volcano), rocks with fire inside falling upon Egypt (volcanic rock blown into the atmosphere and falling upon Egypt), a sonic boom as recorded in the Koran, a path through the sea on which the Israelites escaped from Egypt (the Lake Manzala land bridge through the sea) and the horrific plague of boils caused specifically by the soot from Moses' furnace (a typical result of volcanic ash).
So, if the eruption of Thera occurred 200 to 250 years before the Exodus, how would the legends about the plagues have come into existence if nobody in Israel or Egypt had ever witnessed a volcanic eruption ? And how would they have been able to describe the after-effects of a volcanic eruption so accurately? And why apply it to the Israelites in Egypt? There is only one explanation - they witnessed it first-hand.
When did it happen?
The vast majority of modern scientists and Egyptologists seem to reject the notion that an Exodus had occurred at all. Manetho tells us that the Exodus event occurred during the reign of a pharaoh called Amenophis, who had a scribe of the same name. Manetho is therefore telling us that the pharaoh in question was Amenhotep III, who had famous a scribe called Amenhotep the son of Hapu. Graham Phillips recognised that the only set of circumstances in the Egyptian chronology that would match the circumstances of Moses in Egypt, was that of the household of Amenhotep III. His firstborn son, Crown Prince Tuthmosis, who disappeared under mysterious circumstances, closely matches the biblical Moses. In my book I present several arguments that prove this identification of Moses. For instance, has not one scholar or Egyptologist ever noticed that both Crown Prince Tuthmosis and Moses officiated at the first ceremonial burial of the Apis bull ? Manetho informs us that Moses sent messengers to the Hyksos kings in Jerusalem, inviting them to invade Egypt and join him in his fight against Amenhotep, which they did. The same event is described in practically identical fashion in the EL Arish Shrine text, where the person who sent the messengers to the Asiatics 'in their land' is called Seb, the son of king Shu, the ruler of Egypt. In my book I show that in those times the royal family members of Egypt were often given the names of ancient gods of Egypt. Has not one scholar ever noticed this common aspect of these two narratives ? Probably not, as they all seem to be convinced that the EL Arish Shrine text is simply a fairy tale concocted by an Egyptian priest or scribe. In Thera and the Exodus I show that the EL Arish Shrine text confirms several aspects of Manetho's version of the Exodus, including the violence used against the queen (Nefertiti) and the disappearance of King Shu's army (Amenhotep's retreat into Ethiopia with his officials and the entire Egyptian army for 13 'fatally determined' years, and the biblical story of the entire Egyptian army having been drowned in the sea).
Again I have to ask the learned professors - where did all these stories come from? How is it possible that they could share so many distinctive points, if not based on the truth?
About Joseph being Yuya and Saul being Labayu
Whenever a controversial claim is made in each and every field of study, it is guaranteed that its opponents will fiercely attempt to destroy its credibility. One such claim was made by Ahmed Osman in his book Stranger in the Valley of the Kings. In this book he argues that the biblical Joseph was none other than the Egyptian official called Yuya, who had a very close relationship with Amenhotep III. The vast majority of the arguments he uses in the book cannot be refuted directly, so to counter them it is usually argued that the specific attributes he identifies as unique to Yuya and Joseph, can apply to anyone in any of the Egyptian households. One particularly strong argument against Yuya being Joseph is that there appears to be no mention of the fact that Yuya's daughter Tiye became the wife of Amenhotep III and queen of Egypt. Surely that would have been remembered by the Jews? It seems that the critics of Yuya's theory are blissfully unaware of the legend of Joseph and Asenath, his wife, who supposedly ruled Egypt for 48 years. As Amenhotep III's right hand Joseph did effectively co-rule Egypt with the king, so vast were the powers the king had allotted him. And Asenath? It was not Asenath, but Tiye, who had married Amenhotep III at a young age and was still alive during the so-called Amarna era. The conventional duration of Amenhotep III's rule is assumed to be 38 years, but if he had fled to Ethiopia as claimed by Manetho (Amenhotep littered Ethiopia with his monuments, no doubt to mark it as his territory), he could easily have lived for another ten years. Tiye was alive for most of that time, hence the legend of Joseph and 'Asenath'. Simply put, a woman related to Joseph ruled Egypt for 48 years - it could not have been anyone but Tiye.
Crown Prince Tuthmosis was Yuya's grandson, which appears to disqualify Tuthmosis as the biblical Moses. According to the Old Testament several hundred years passed between Joseph arriving in Egypt and Moses leading the Israelites out of Egypt. However, two ancient historians independently make Joseph and Moses contemporaries. In one instance both of them are made priests (both Yuya and Crown Prince Tuthmosis were Egyptian priests), and in the other Moses is the son of Joseph. He was in fact not the son but the grandson of Joseph. So, it would appear that the long time span between Moses and Joseph was either a simple error by the Old Testament scribe or scribes, or perhaps a lie deliberately introduced to distance Moses from Crown Prince Tuthmosis.
In his book A Test of Time David Rohl systematically identifies Labayu as the biblical Saul and a person named Dadua as the biblical David. Since Labayu was an Amarna contemporary, Rohl then moves the Amarna era later in time to the generally accepted era of the United Monarchy of Israel ca. 1000 BCE. His revised timeline has almost universally been rejected by academics. However, if we move the United Monarchy earlier in time to the Amarna era, numerous other pieces of the puzzle fall into place. The link between Labayu and Saul has been rejected by several scholars, amongst others who noted that the areas in which the two kings were active differ. This discrepancy could be nothing more than an error by either of the two scribes, but the other exploits in their lives match closely. Perhaps the most important of all is that Labayu, like Saul, is furious at his son joining his enemy. This event is like a fingerprint in time - how can it be explained away? In fact, in an article called Saul, the Last Labayu the renowned archeologist Israel Finkelstein states "I see a great deal of similarity between Sechem under Labayu and his sons in the 14th century and the Saul territorial entity in the 10th century B.C.E", yet rejects identification of one with the other on archaeological grounds. Would he put his head on the block that these two kings were not the same person? And is archaeology infallible? Apparently not, as Finkelstein himself had to revise the very dating he had proposed for so long.
If Saul and Labayu were Amarna contemporaries, so would Solomon have been, and also his Queen of Sheba. Josephus calls this queen the Queen of Egypt and Ethiopia, which scholars reject as an error by Josephus. But what if Sheba was a person, i.e. the Queen of Sheba was Sheba's queen (of Egypt)? Has no one ever considered this possibility? There was a very famous Sheba who was in fact a mortal enemy of David, and he could very well have been the father of Bathsheba, the wife David took from Uriah. David had her newborn son murdered, but she must have sent her young daughters to Joseph in Egypt to protect them from David. Messengers were sent between the Queen of Egypt and the king of Jerusalem, matching Manetho's account of messengers being sent to Jerusalem. If the Queen of Sheba was indeed the Queen of Egypt and Ethiopia, who ruled during the Amrana era, she could not have been anyone else but Nefertiti. How many scholars are aware of the Arabic document called The History of the Queen of Sheba? This document supports my theory in basically all respects, from Nefertiti being raised by Yuya as Joseph, to a popular revolt against the tyrant king and a treacherous banquet at which she murdered this king. It would seem that this legend too is regarded as nothing more than fantasy in academic circles. If so, how can the common thread between all these legends, as I point out in my book, be explained away?
Some other points of interest
Jehova supposedly revealed himself to Moses in a burning bush. What could the origin of this insane legend be? In my book I present proof that Moses, along with all the other firstborn children in Egypt, was to be sacrificed in a fire to appease the perceived anger of the gods, who wre punishing Egypt with a devastating plague. In fact, whereas the Bible attempts to create the impression that the Egyptians woke up one morning to find all of their firstborn deceased, Jewish legend tells us that they knew very well about the impending death of their children and attempted to hide them. In the end the Egyptian army had to be called in to ensure that their firstborn could not escape death. The only conclusion? These children were executed as commanded by the king (and his high priest). If this was not what had actually happened, how do scholars explain the story of the burning bush?
Regarding the identity of the legendary Egyptian king Sesostris, has any scholar ever considered the possibility that the name may be of Greek origin? It seems that scholars universally and without thinking twice identify Sesostris with Senusret, a Twelfth Dynasty king of Egypt, as also done by the Egyptian historian Manetho. There is of course a vague phonetic similarity between the names, but in my book I show that the name Sesostris, as well as its other forms Sesonchosis and Sesoosis, can all be translated directly from Greek (Sesostris = Se-sos-tris, meaning You-and-Yours-the-Third, an appelation earned by the Tuthmosid family who carried off entire nations, with their belongings, to work as slaves in Egypt), and that many of Sesostris' attributes closely match those of Tuthmosis III, probably the greatest ever of Egypt's pharaohs. I also show that some of the legends attributed to Sesostris actually relate to Amenhotep III, often called Egypt's Golden Pharaoh and like Tuthmosis the third ruler in his family.
I assume the most effective way to dispel any new theories which do not fit the conventional mould is to ignore them.
How to read Thera and the Exodus
I wrote Thera and the Exodus for a wide spectrum of readers, from those unfamiliar with Old Testament history to scholars in the field. That made the presentation of the book rather difficult and it will not read like a novel. For those of you who are not familiar with reading books of this type, I would recommend that you read it slowly at your leisure, and have a notebook at hand in which you can jot down whatever you wish to remember or read up again later, by page number. Apart from the Contents at the beginning, there is also a detailed Index at the back of the book, which should assist you in finding most of the important topics I deal with in the book. There is no need to check each reference in the text, as these are meant only to indicate where I got my information from. There are no additional comments in the references, as some authors like to do.
In case some of you should feel intimidated by the amount of information you have to digest without being and expert in this field, rest assured that ancient history is no longer the exclusive domain of university professors. The Internet has brought all the information we might need to the tips of our fingers, and all one needs to do is familiarise yourself with the basic facts, weigh up the different theories and make up your own mind, without relying on the learned others to do so on your behalf!
2.3 Thera and the Exodus reviews
ForeWord Clarion Review: Four stars (out of Five)
His work, Thera and the Exodus, is not antireligious; to the contrary, it is a well-organized, scholarly, richly illustrated, and heavily footnoted effort to prove that the great migration of the Jewish people out of Egypt under Moses did occur. ... Even if readers disagree with the conclusions Booysen puts forth ... those who like their Bible more for history than theology will greatly appreciate and thoroughly enjoy Thera and the Exodus. Booysen’s grasp of, and evident enthusiasm for, Egyptology in particular is evident. He has delved deep into the history, legend, and archaeological evidence of the land of the pharaohs, and any who share his interests will find this book utterly fascinating and engrossing.
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Riaan has been selected as Graham Hancock's Author of the Month for May 2013
"We are both pleased and honoured to welcome as May 2013 Author of the Month, Riaan Booysen. Please join Riaan on the AoM Message Boards this month, to discuss his new book Thera and the Exodus>, in which he researches and makes the case linking two ancient volcanic eruptions on the Mediterranean island of Thera (modern Santorini), with the biblical story of the Exodus. It’s fascinating work and reading that demands attention."
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Amazon customer review: Five stars (out of Five)
"Interesting combo of history and archeology - You will never think of history in the same way again. Thera (now called Santorini) was a monster of a Greek volcano which erupted circa 1500 B.C. and 1350 B.C. A great read."
Midwest Book Review - Highly Recommended
The history behind the events of the Bible is curious, trying to find reality in fact. "Thera and the Exodus: The Exodus explained in Terms of Natural Phenomena and the Human Response to It" is an intriguing and different interpretation of the Biblical story of Exodus. Riaan Booysen seeks to tell the story of the Thera volcano's unrest, and how the Amenhotep III, ordered a sacrifice of all the first born to appease the Gods, and how his own first born was saved...and that this son would become Moses. An intriguing take on the legend trying to connect human nature with natural history, "Thera and the Exodus" is an enticing read for a different take on ancient history, highly recommended.
Detailed Review by Online Book Club (three stars out of four)
"The more I read about ancient history--the more it becomes apparent how little we can truly know about the details and reality of what took place in the fascinating, turbulent, and sparsely documented lives of our ancestors. Thera and the Exodus is a treatise which attempts the gargantuan feat of sifting through vast jigsaw puzzle pieces of historical fact mixed in with misleading bits of legend posing as the truth, and tries to painstakingly separate the two--ultimately threading together a picture that may explain the real reasons behind the Exodus."
"I would recommend this book to anyone interested in the historical events that may have been the inspiration for biblical stories; and especially to anyone already invested in the subject."
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