Sunday, January 14, 2018

Distancing Oneself from Velikovsky

Image result for dr velikovsky maverick

Damien F. Mackey



In answer to a reader's comment on Velikovsky as follows:


“.... I think [Velikovsky] is appreciated because he thought of the idea of re-jigging the Egyptian chronology but seems to be rather crazy overall. Sounds as though these fellows are wise to distance themselves from him. ...”.


I wrote:


Let us get one thing very clear. The revision of ancient history as pursued by groups such as the Society for Interdisciplinary Studies (UK) and Catastrophism and Ancient History (Los Angeles, CA), and now by many other individuals and groups using various forms of social media, would never have seen the light of day but for the efforts of Dr. Immanuel Velikovsky, a Russian Jew. Even Dr. Donovan Courville’s worthy early effort, The Exodus Problem and its Ramifications (I and II, Loma Linda Ca, 1971), though largely an original contribution, based itself to a great extent on Velikovsky’s important 500-year shift of the 18th Egyptian dynasty to the time of the kingdom of Israel (Saul, David and Solomon).


Here I am interested only in Velikovsky‟s historical revision, not his scientific interpretations,

which involve some dramatic planetary catastrophism supposedly affecting the biblical Exodus and the destruction of Sennacherib’s Assyrian army of 185,000. These, which I do not personally favour, make for some terrific reading, nevertheless, and would be exciting movie viewing. Whilst some still follow Velikovsky slavishly, both his history and his science, it was the UK branch, including some very talented individuals, who, as early as the late 70’s, tended to watch critically his historical outputs, finally rebelling outright when confronted with his extreme location of the 19th Egyptian (Ramesside) dynasty: Ramses II and His Time.

But it needs to be noted that, until that time, the UK revisionists were “Velikovskian” in their 

acceptance of the important 500-year downward shift of 18th dynasty Egyptian history, with the “Glasgow School” slightly modifying Velikovsky with some excellent results. From that happy moment in time (around 1978) it has generally been a free-fall down the mountain.


So the point of this little article is that revisionists, even if now they have adopted quite a different system, owe their beginning to Immanuel Velikovsky. For whatever reason, God allowed him, and him only, a man who may not even have believed in God, to be the one to determine that 18th dynasty Egyptian history needed to be brought down the time scale by a multiplicity of centuries. But the UK (in particular) revisionists, aware that Velikovsky was regarded with contempt by the conventional scholars, whose system they themselves were undermining - though perhaps also seeking some academic respectability - and aware that Velikovsky’s latter phase revision, e.g. the 19th dynasty of Egypt, was archaeologically untenable (though loyal Velikovskians have clung to it), sought to distance themselves from Velikovsky completely, they hardly at all, or at least very scarcely, even mentioning him in their later  books and publications. And when they did mention him, they laughed him off as a “wayward polymath”, or “maverick”.

Now, whilst these epithets can perhaps be appropriate in the right context, they are mean and miserable when revisionists fail to admit their owing of any debt to Velikovsky. The most arrogant example of this, which is not only unjust to Velikovsky but which demeans all those others who have put a lot of effort into a revision of ancient history - as well as the writings of “Creationists” - was this piece in the flyleaf introducing David Rohl’s The Lost Testament (Century, 2002) as if the revision recognizing the over-extension of chronology by modern researchers had begun with him in 1995 (forgetting Velikovsky‟s beginnings in the 1940’s):


The earliest part of the bible is recognised as the foundation-stone of three great religions – Judaism, Christianity and Islam – yet over the last century archaeologists and historians have signally failed to find any evidence to confirm the events described in the “book of books”.

As a consequence, many scholars took the view that the Old Testament was little more than a work or fiction. The testimony of biblical history had, in effect, been lost. Then, in 1995, this scholarly skepticism over the historicity of the Bible was suddenly challenged when Egyptologist and historian, David Rohl, burst onto the scene with a new theory. He suggested that modern researchers had constructed an artificially long chronology for the ancient world - a false time-line which had dislocated the Old Testament events from their real historical setting. The alternative “New Chronology” - first published in A Test of Time: The Bible From Myth to History - created a world-wide sensation and was fiercely resisted by the more conservative elements within academia. Seven years on, however, the chronological reconstruction has developed apace and numerous new discoveries have been made. Now, in his new book, The Lost Testament, David Rohl reveals the entire story of the Children of Yahweh - set in its true historical context. An astounding number of references in the literature of neighbouring civilizations are shown to synchronise with the Old Testament accounts, confirming events which had previously been dismissed as mythical. In addition, this contemporary literature - combined with the archaeological record - reveals new information and new stories about personalities such as Enoch, Noah, Nimrod, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, Sau1, David and Solomon.

The Bible has at last been recovered from the ruins of the ancient past as the “when”, “where” and “who” are explained - throwing unforeseen and fascinating new light on the world's most treasured book.


Rohl was one of those more talented and qualified UK revisionists, along with Dr. John Bimson and Peter James, the latter two being an integral part of the “Glasgow School”. Later (1990), Peter James’s (et al.) Centuries of Darkness, which has become something of a classic, exposed the conventional chronology and archaeology.


However, the so-called “New Chronology” of Rohl - somewhat similar to James’s efforts at reconstruction - situated halfway between convention and Velikovsky, fails at virtually every point despite the optimistic advertisements. It is far inferior to the respective revisions of Courville and Martin Sieff – the latter tending to persevere with the most promising aspects of Courville and “Glasgow”, but with excellent modifications and contributions of his own. Sieff, in fact, adopted the perfect approach to Velikovsky, by building upon his solid foundations, but also modifying him where there were problems, and rejecting outright Velikovsky’s glaring mistakes. He even wrote by far the best account of the psychology of Velikovsky (who was a psychiatrist), the fascinating “Velikovsky and His Heroes” (SIS Review, vol. v, no. 4, 1980/81, pp. 112-120).

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