Photo: Immanuel Velikovsky (1895-1979)
Most people reading this post may not realize the importance of these two studies on Immanuel Velikovsky. Velikovsky proposed a radical interpretation of some events in the Bible based on some astronomical events that occurred in antiquity. His interpretation included a radical change in biblical history and in the chronology of Egypt.
An article on Immanuel Velikovsky that appears in Wikipedia summarizes some of his catastrophic views:
1. A tentative suggestion that Earth had once been a satellite of a “proto-Saturn” body, before its current solar orbit.
2. That the Deluge (Noah’s Flood) had been caused by proto-Saturn’s entering a nova state, and ejecting much of its mass into space.
3. A suggestion that the planet Mercury was involved in the Tower of Babel catastrophe.
4. Jupiter had been the culprit for the catastrophe that saw the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.
5. Periodic close contacts with a “cometary Venus” (which had been ejected from Jupiter) had caused the Exodus events ca. 1500 BCE) and Joshua’s subsequent “sun standing still” (Joshua 10:12 and 13) incident.
6. Periodic close contacts with Mars had caused havoc in the 8th and 7th centuries BCE.
Most Biblical scholars and Egyptologists have rejected Velikovsky’s views. They also agree with a standard chronology for ancient Egypt, although the dates for the reign of some of the kings may vary by a few years.
However, a group of people, mostly influenced by Immanuel Velikovsky’s book Worlds in Collision, which was published in 1950, have proposed to lower the chronology of Egypt by about 500 years. The discussion that follows the two posts is evidence that Velikovsky has many followers who are strong defenders of his views.
Velikovsky’s views are based on his theory that planet Earth was affected by a catastrophic close encounter with the planet Venus. This close encounter caused the ten plagues in Egypt as recorded in the book of Exodus.
I have evaluated Velikovsky’s views in two posts: “Immanuel Velikovsky and the History of Israel” and “Immanuel Velikovsky and the Old Testament.” In these two posts I reject Velikovsky’s attempt to synchronize a lower Egyptian chronology with biblical history and provide several reasons why his views about the Exodus, the Hyksos, and the Amalekites are unacceptable.
The followers of Velikovsky’s views try to dismiss any study that rejects Velikovsky’s Egyptian chronology as irrelevant. They also try to discredit the reliability of radiocarbon dating, but new refinement in the process has made radiocarbon dating precise enough to locate the history of ancient Egypt to very specific dates.
If you have never heard of Immanuel Velikovsky, his book Worlds in Collision, or his theories, these two studies will introduce you to his views. These two studies will also show why his theories are controversial and should be rejected by students of the Bible.
Studies on Immanuel Velikovsky
Professor of Old Testament
Northern Baptist Seminary