LITERARY REVIEW, NOVEMBER 2002
||Freemasons Communications, Nov.2002 (Vol.XI,
No.197, pp.9-10) - & -
Vicars Journal, 22 Nov.2003 (year92,No.47,pp.1040-1041) - literary
|Intriguing Interpretation of the Moses figure
By NIELS AARUP, OHP, - M.A. in Theology, Pastor
Where was Moses?
There are many gaps in the biblical narrative about Moses. He enters the story,
disappears again, - in return for resuming his leading role in the Israelite exodus story. The pattern repeating several times and
the Books of Moses pay only little
attention to these "quiet years". Only a few scattered hints show that there
actually is a coherent story; and by the kind of theological method, which is
currently in high esteem among a Danish school of research on the Old Testament, the people behind
this line are inclined to disclaim these hints from having any research value.
"Copenhagen School" of theology apparently do not attach any importance to Moses as
historical person but will preferably consider him as a mythological common
denominator - a literary product created to hold together the history that
began in Egypt and ended in the promised Country.
The question is whether
it is valid to reduce the person Moses to a myth. The question also is whether
it is tenable to simply ignore (or even ridicule) the attempts made from time to time
placing the person Moses into an actually historical context. However, this is
what so far has been done, condescendingly, to a non-theological writer who has dared
to plough a few solid furrows in an arable land which the theologians prefer to
forget as a fallow field.
If a theologian have to shake
himself in the cool atmosphere currently dominating upon the
theological mountain, and he then read in an impressive work, which in these years is under publication, it
will function as a breath of fresh air from more comfortable places. The
first two volume were reviewed in this magazine, No. 191 (May 2001) and also in the Vicars' Journal 2001/50. A third volume of the author is now published, and it is
also no less fascinating reading.
A multidisciplinary work
The author Ove von Spaeth writes currently on a so-called interdisciplinary work
in five volumes about the historical Moses. Since the author is not a theologian
feels he is not in any way bound by the restrictions that today's theological
trend has imposed on itself. He has set himself the task of identifying the
historical traces of Moses which necessarily must have been set, primarily in
Egypt, - tracks that are only slightly visible in the biblical transmission and
almost blurred elsewhere.
The result that came out
work exciting as a historical novel. The books, however, are much more than
novels. Each feature being dealt with is supported with references to contemporary
sources of a variety of different nature. Some of these sources are generally
known, others not; but it is probably the first time that someone has undertaken to
compare these sources and elicit from them a picture of a person whom the biblical
writers only highlights as to the extent where he is entering into the
superior account concerning the Israelite migrations.
present Volume 3 primarily deals with the periods of Moses' life - from when
he (for reasons explained in the previous volumes) was forced away from
Pharaoh's court, and up to the crucial time when he placed himself at the
head of the Israelite refugees. But also some
noteworthy events from the Israelite journey through the desert is
highlighted while the Bible's "the Books of Moses" have put emphasis on many other things than to illustrate the
direct historical context.
the Pentateuch (Books of Moses) present us with a picture of a crowd of
subdued slaves fleeing from
their persecutors. But there is no viable explanation of how such a crowd of
able to leave Egypt, armed as an army, and it can also surprise that among
these refugees could be found enough costly goods to produce a golden calf in the desert.
The Pentateuch shows no interest in giving us the answers to these questions, and
precisely why it is so exciting to read this new attempt to answer these and
many other puzzles by means of history and with the support of contemporary
travelling widely during
this period. His personality may be the main key to some hitherto obscure detail
in the traditional accounts about the wars which in these years kept the Egyptian army
heavily occupied by turns by the country's northern and southern borders. Read!
It is very exciting all.
We know from the summaries of the previous volumes, that critical expert
felt immensely offended that a non-theologian venturing into their territory
and observes contexts to which they themselves did not connect with any importance.
Be it as it may. It will be a free choice for a reader either to read the work with the scientific glasses (or
blinkers) or whether he will by impulse find it interesting to see how a
shadow-like figure from the Old Testament turns into a human being of flesh and
blood and emerges as one of the major figures in world history.
On the web:
more can read about the work.
"The Vanished Successor"
(2001, C.A. Reitzel publishers) from the same author's book-series:
"Assassinating Moses", 1-5" - the first two ones are:
"The Suppressed Record" (1999) and "The Enigmatic Son of Pharaoh's Daughter" (2000).
LITERATURE ARTICLE, 22 MARCH 2002
||Frederiksborg Amts Avis, & Dagbladet (incl.
several local newspapers), 22 March 2002 (p.16) - Literature
|The Importance of Moses Ought to Be Re-evaluated
|Biblical drama in
exciting new light. Ove von
Spaeth's books point to the remarkable fact that already in early Antiquity
it was consistently tried - under an ongoing struggle for power - to delete
all Egyptian traces of Moses.
By JENS JORGENSEN, MA Historian,
history examiner at the Universities
of Copenhagen, Aarhus and Odense,
and former Headmaster
Moses! It sounds somewhat dusty! A bit obsolete. Smells almost like the village
school with stanza of a hymn and catechism and the Old Testament. And the Law of
Moses. Moses at the Red Sea. The Emigration from Egypt.
It has been - and is -
neglected that according to the latest research, Moses was a historical person
and not only an element in a more religious context - but was perhaps also a
somewhat goal-directed "struggler for power". This is what, for instance,
Professor F.J. Billeskov Jansen called him recently, when he was a reviewing the
Danish researcher, Ove von Spaeth's new, informing book on Moses, i.e. "The
Vanished Successor" (C.A. Reitzel Publishers).
Quite a lot is actually
speaking in favour of connecting Moses directly to the foundation of a nation.
This makes him something else and more than a person with only a place in
religious connection. This also makes him an important historic person - and by
this, his own history becomes obviously interesting also to us in our new
However - at present
within some research areas, it is disputed if the said historical event in the
Bible is at all historical. And many will not recognize that it is possible,
further on, to displaying essential news about Moses.
But with "The Vanished
Successor" Ove von Spaeth presents a number of exciting and often re-examined
sources pointing to circumstances in connection with the oldest known historic
sequence resulting in the formation of a genuinely constituted state.
The evaluated material is
so comprehensive, and Ove von Spaeth's work so thoroughly done that it is
scientifically unacceptable only to look down the nose and snap, "No good" -
only because it does not fit in with the customary.
And facing the question,
"Why did these things happen at that time", von Spaeth's often exceptional
material demonstrates a surprising plausibility behind the biblical narrative.
During this new book the reader is left with an increasing feeling that Ove von
Spaeth's narrative has opened up to a number of elements, which are also being
The entire upheaval, the
struggles for power, and Moses's escape from the court and Egypt are interesting
in more than the classical context. The pre-Greek culture - and also the border
districts of Egypt - went through a very violent period - all in the years of
ca. 1450-1350 B.C. It corresponds very close with the life of Moses.
With Crete as a kind of a
junction point and here the Knossos Palace as the physical center, there was a
considerable mutual cultural influence between parts of the Greek cultural
territory and Egypt. The Cretan-Minoan culture (the Period of the Bull Horn)
with the open Cretan society, terminated completely around 1400 B.C..
On stage can also be seen
a probably Canaanitic sea-going people appearing, i.e. the Danas or the Danites
- known from the Bible - who was previous neighbours to the Philistines in many
Mediterranean locations, and the book presents a number of new, interesting
information on these.
It is fascinating to see
how many customs - direct or adapted by later Christian culture - we have
originally taken over from this early period, of which especially Moses in many
respects is to be found in its centre.
Another example is the
wandering in the wilderness - also known as the Exodus. Researchers
have doubts as to whether the Moses and Israelite agelong stay in the desert was
However, modern times
have seen a similar example, to which the book refers: In China when Mao Ze Dong
and his huge groups of troops hostile to the government, made, together with
their families, the "Long March" from 1934-1935 and further on. This
long march was in fact not terminated until 1949 by the actual taking over of
power at the Chinese mainland - like "the Promised Land".
Everywhere in the old world and all along to recent times it was quite normal,
that groups of people with different languages, religions, and cultures, were
ruled by a foreign grand sovereign. Often they felt happy that way because of
the many practical advantages. The conception in our understanding of
nationalism as such belongs to recent times.
However, already in
connection with the biblical Israelites, the idea has a special perspective,
which in itself may prove more historically relevant to us than, for instance,
research so far has made us understand.
It is suggestive how in
several ways, von Spaeth's analysis is knocking holes in many researchers'
hypotheses about the so-called lack of historical validity of the biblical
narrative concerning Moses. This becomes obvious because the analysis is
throughout logical during its step-by-step method - and because all the time von
Spaeth is working with an extremely minute documentation.
It is also suggestive
that several parts of the claimed myth about Moses is deeply rooted in Egyptian
factual history - and thus seems to prove being much more than a myth, at least
as far as a number of solid historical details are concerned.
Ove von Spaeth's
interdisciplinary dialogue with the broad spectrum of documentation in the book
is exciting - also as a separated reading. Of course it is inviting for attacks,
which is characteristic to all good research. But at the same time it has caused
that many interesting but often forgotten and neglected documents have been
brought to light, and now they will be subjected to the advances of contemporary
But to our academic
establishment, or establishments, all this is not done without impunity. It is
an interesting phenomenon to watch from the very beginning, how the work of this
researcher has been exposed to a convenient non-specific criticism, because he
is dissociating himself from the prevailing "political correctness" within
certain comprehensions by the traditional research.
Ove von Spaeth has
substantiated his work about Moses by hundreds of sources supplemented by a
veritable deluge of specific examples. In this connection he is seen being
accused of erroneous use of sources, often because of several academic critics'
obvious lack of counter-arguments.
But, as is to be seen, he
only proceeds in a different way, in particular when - unprejudiced and in
advance - he avoids to neglect what may seem to be strange and mystic sources
and, instead, first examine whether relations of the source's narrative could at
all have been carried out in historical practise. (See for instance below,
Exodus being "tested" military-historically). Only when a result seems
reasonable he let it form the basis for going at least one step further in the
continued examination of the source. Well known and highly respected researchers
have always done so. So why not this researcher?
Hidden War Re-Discovered
Ove von Spaeth's book on "The Vanished Successor" has the elaborating subtitle,
"Ancient texts reflect how Moses as an expelled Egyptian prince brilliantly
exploited the historic Middle East tensions by enduring attempts to regain his
claim to the throne of the pharaohs".
The context tells us that Moses, the disappeared heir to the throne, by a coup
was being expelled from the Egyptian throne, to which he is said both to have be
born and originally recognized - according to old Jewish sources and a number of
exact details of these narratives seem to show the likelihood of this rather
than just mythic stuff. And we are being presented for several ancient texts
revealing that the exiled Moses for a long time was pulling political strings in
order to regain his rights to the throne. Then a decisive upheaval was
instigated by means of the Hebrew emigrant groups in Egypt - however, the result
forced the Hebrew/Israelite people to look out for other pastures.
Once more, parallel to
information from many ancient historians, the book points out very precisely
one of Egypt's toughest war kings, i.e. Pharaoh Amenhotep II - the "tough
Pharaoh" of the Bible - who with military power tried to interfere the
emigrating of Moses and the Israelites. This proves to be in correspondence with
the 15th century BC.
A detail of great
importance appears for the first time and is analyzed by Ove von Spaeth. The
Bible's statement that at the start of Israelite exodus from Egypt "all the
Egyptians' first-born were killed" is well-known - and by the knowledge of the
Bible story when being spread in Europe through 2,000 years it became a solid cliché
that a violent mass murdering of children had taken place. However, von Spaeth demonstrates that the "first born" in all ancient tradition was,
the senior elder of the families. Thus, the Israelites optained both an
effectively minimizing of battles and killing, and at the same time a more unfettered marching off
thus made possible by
only eliminating the Egyptians' leaders and keypersons, which initially paralyzed the
Egyptians' counteracting effectively.
For the first time ever -
and in the same time this topic it is an almost brilliant trait in this book - a
true military-historical analysis is carried out on the emigration from Egypt
and the invasion in Canaan. This was hitherto being neglected but ought to have
been an important matter, of course, in previous research. And - contrary to
recent theological theories - the event as such and the specific details are
proved to be both possible and likely!
A modern myth created
only by present researchers has designated Tuthmosis III - the predecessor of
Amenhotep II - the "Napoleon of Antiquity". However, surprisingly and again as
the first, von Spaeth substantiates by documentation - even based upon
Tuthmosis and his generals' own inscriptions, e.g. about the geography - that
this idea is contrary to the neglected fact that this pharaoh never have
extended the Egyptian empire even with one inch. But instead he only (although
very well) defended its vast borders.
A number of interesting
information brought to light by von Spaeth's material seem to reveal that on
Tuthmosis III's many expeditions, literally and with mathematical precision,
this pharaoh and his army were restlessly bundled around for 19 years. And in
addition according to complete context, this could systematically have been
provoked by Moses (from his exile, at that early stage) together with many of
his important allies especially from Canaan.
On the background of such
relations, thus as far as they can be reliable, the book shows able to present the key to
disclosure of the "forgotten war". This, being the case, may lift a corner of
the veil which had covered Moses' dramatic part acting in Egypt and the
neighbouring countries: expeditions causing changes in the Middle East - thus
changing the background for our understanding of the early history.
History or Myth
Moses is being called the architect of the Israelite nation. And with the
material presented, very much speaks in favour of this. Again, it is confirming
Moses being a historically important person and personality.
Ove von Spaeth's books
present the significant fact that already in Antiquity - here as part of an
ongoing struggle for power - it was tried to delete all Egyptian traces of
Moses. And once again we recognise that this is what we so often see today.
As a rule we ought to
remember that history is always written by the victor (just think of history
books of the Soviet Union, until Gorbatjev took over. Eventually the examination
for the General Certificate of Education, Advanced Level, had to be cancelled at
Russian Grammar Schools, because the history writing was thoroughly falsified).
History forgery has been made on the basis of an almost complete destruction of
all the mentioned traces of Moses - and should encourage us as readers to
re-examine and actually up-grade the importance of Moses. Even very weak traces
may be important, when we have an eye for how the ruling system consequently has
tried to delete everything,
Also this present volume
is enthralling - and communicated with a contagious engagement. A true resource
of research studies performed with rare insight and qualified understanding. Ove
von Spaeth's entire work, which is of great international calibre and
qualifications, is also the so far most thorough, constructive, and
comprehensive presentation of Moses. (additional information, see also
researchers may in some cases look at the presentation with reservations. And
the news in the book is being presented for testing with a broad audience.
Simultaneously, the work should be given an open welcome with its radical, new,
Only through openness knowledge is achieved. And only through knowledge is the
platform being created for understanding, permissiveness - and awareness of us
and our society.
(Jens Jorgensen, MA Historian, former Examiner of History at the
Universities of Copenhagen, Aarhus, and Odense, and Headmaster of Slagelse
College/High School; for several years he was also a Member of Parliament,
the Conservative Party's Spokesman on Educational subjects).
Info: Ove von Spaeth: "The Vanished Successor" - (Assassinating Moses, vol. 3),
C.A. Reitzel Publishers, 255 pages, illustr., 248 kr.