Studies on Immanuel Velikovsky’s “Worlds in Collision”

Immanuel Velikovsky (1895-1979)

 

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

Immanuel Velikovsky and the Old Testament

Immanuel Velikovsky and the History of Israel

Claude Mariottini
Professor of Old Testament
Northern Baptist Seminary

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9 Responses to Studies on Immanuel Velikovsky’s “Worlds in Collision”

  1. EstateCo says:

    Hi Prof. Mariottini
    Really great reviews on Velikovsky.
    Need some direction from you on David Rohl’s “Revised Egyptian Chronology” who places the Amarna Letters ‘Lubayu’ as the Biblical King Saul?
    What is your take on Rohl?
    Many thanks,
    Harry

    Like

    • Harry,

      Rohl’s revised chronology seems to follow the same principle in lowering Egyptian chronology that Velikovsky did. To my knowledge, no reputable Egyptologist or biblical scholar would accept such a revision of biblical history or Egyptian chronology.

      Thank you for your comment.

      Claude Mariottini

      Like

      • EstateCo says:

        Hi Prof. Mariottini,
        Thanks for the reply to my question on Rohl’s chronology.
        I have been studying the Philistines and also reading Rohl’s books, a dangerous combination. It seems to me that Rohl (according to his revised chronology) has the United Monarchy corresponding [?] to the LB IIA period and, from what we know, Saul and David, were very much involved with fighting the Philistines. However, if we believe the long standing theory that the Philistines did not arrive in Canaan until the reign of Ramesses III [c. 800 bce by Rohl’s reckoning], Saul and David are fighting an enemy who does not appear in the historical or archaeological record until three centuries later!
        Has anyone attempted to square this off?
        Thanks
        Harry

        Like

      • Harry,

        This is the problem with the revised chronology. According to archaeologists, the Philistines entered Canaan around 1200 BCE. To date Ramesses III’s reign to 800 BCE is just not acceptable. This date goes against all archaeological evidence and also against Egyptian history. The revised chronology proposed by Velikovsky (and Rohl) has been rejected by most scholars. This revised chronology is based on Velikovsky’s theory, and from my perspective, it does not deserve to be taught as a realistic chronology.

        Your question: “Has anyone attempted to square this off?” No, because no one accepts this revised chronology, no one, with the exception of those who accept Velikovsky’s theory.

        Claude Mariottini

        Like

  2. Dear Dr Mariottini

    Thank you for discussing the matter of ancient chronology.

    I notice that in response to some questions that you respond with “no one accepts this revised chronology” . I take it that you mean no one outside the academic community with views that would be published in an academic journal. Unfortunately, this could be said about Copernicus’ views on heliocentrism. Such a view, even if true, is not very persuasive.

    The conventional view has Ramesses III fighting Philistines in the 12th century.
    The people he is fighting look like Persian soldiers and are designated as P-l-s-tt.
    However, the letter used for l is also used for r and it could be P-r-s-tt where the t is not
    pronounced or P-R-S – easily recognized as the Egyptian for Persia. Indeed, in the Canopus Decree the term P-R-S-TT is translated into Greek as Persia.
    Yet, according to Egyptologists this must be the Philistines because Egyptian chronology puts Ramesses III in the 12th century. Strangely, the name of the Philistines appears neither before the 20th Dynasty nor after the 21st Dynasty even though these Philistines lived next door. Stranger still is the fact that the Israelites knew Philistines in the time of Abraham, Isaac, Moses, Samson, Samuel, Saul, David and Solomon and this too contradicts the Egyptologist’s story- not at all compatible with the history of Egypt’s nearest neighbour. According to them a book was written by a priest of the 3rd century, named Manetho, places Ramesses there. However, we neither have a copy of the book nor do we know his sources and we must rely on tertiary sources – not impressive. Furthermore, Ramesses III is not mentioned in any of the extant material of Manetho so his presence in the 20th Dynasty is speculative – not impressive.
    Furthermore, it is then deduced that the coming of these Philistines (not Pilistines with a silent T) was indicated by the arrival of Philistine pottery. However, Iron I Philistine pottery is not associated with Ramesses III at Beth Shean where his statue is found in Iron II nor at Aphek where a plaque of Ramesses II was found in Iron II implying that Ramesses III must be later, nor Tel el-Farah etc. In fact at Tel el-Farah the Philistine pottery is associated with artefacts of the Libyan and Ethiopian periods – this is not only unimpressive, it is in fact absolutely contradictory to the conventional view of Egyptologists. I am afraid that the conventional view is not a solid platform on which to stand and thus I am not persuaded.

    Alan Montgomery

    Like

    • Dear Alan,

      Thank you for your comment and for the information you provide in defense of the revised chronology. Your reference to a 3rd century B.C. document as an evidence for the revised chronology is not enough to convince scholars that the chronology should be revised.

      You should read the book by Ann Killebrew in which she studies the archaeological evidence related to the Philistines. She provides ample archaeological, ethnographical, and textual evidence to date the Philistines to the end of the Bronze Age and to the beginning of the Iron Age. The evidence from Tel-Miqne-Ekron and from Ashdod, for example, is irrefutable.

      Thank you for visiting my blog.

      Claude Mariottini

      Like

      • Alan Montgomery says:

        Dear Dr Mariottini

        I have read Ann Killebrew’s work on Philistine strata (Biblical Peoples and Ethnicity) as well as Trude Dothan’s work. In fact I spent considerable time on Dothan’s book because she explained more of the sites and their connection to Egypt than did Killebrew.

        I find that Killebrew frequently states the connection with Philistine pottery and the “arrival” of the Philistine’s but this is just conventional theory. It is entirely plausible that the Canaanite Late Bronze ware was used in Philistia by the Philistines and since Joshua mentions the Philistines I would say it is well documented in the Bible that they arrived long before the 12th century and must have used some pre-Philistine pottery.

        The one connection that she does make with the 12th century is the inscriptions at Medinet Habu of Ramesses III that show he fought with these feather-headed “Philistines”. Their coffins are found in Egyptian fortress sites such as Tel Farah and Beth Shean but not in ANY Philistine sites! This is irrefutable evidence! I must be mistaken. I do not believe that you as a professor can offer this against the evidence of a 3rd century translation of a pharaonic decree.

        Ann Killebrew’s excavation do not change anything. The coffins of the Philistines appear at Tel Farah and I believe these were compared with and found to be similar to the Headdresses at Medinet Habu. These were compared by Velikovsky with pictures of soldiers in the capital of the Persian Empire in the time of Darius I. They were similar. Why?

        As I understand your argument: The “scholars” have translated this word Pelest as Philistine because they fail to realize that it is the 4th century BC and not the 12th century. Thus they cannot accept any other translation without admitting that their dates are out by 800 years. Could it be that Egyptologists might refuse to consider Velikovsky because he is just too radical for them? Talk to Copernicus, who was opposed by almost everyone in astronomy of his day. But eventually scholars did consider the evidence and changed their minds. When the data changes I change my mind. What do you do?

        Alan Montgomery

        Like

      • Alan,

        I think you are right when you say that Egyptologists and most scholars “refuse to consider Velikovsky because he is just too radical for them.”

        Thank you for your comment.

        Claude Mariottini

        Like

  3. Dear Dr. Mariottini

    As least you are admitting that Velikovsky is not rejected on the basis of evidence but on prejudice. As the world is full of those proposing speculative theories, I understand the failure of scholars to investigate most of them. However, Velikovsky is not the only one who sees a failure of Egyptian chronology to produce “good fruit”. Where is the archaeological evidence of the Exodus? If it were not for Egyptian chronology, biblical scholars long ago would have seen the Exodus belongs to the Middle Bronze. Not only does Velikovsky assert this but Prof. Bimson, Peter James and David Rohl all agree. I have 100 pages on the archaeological evidence to support them. Jesus taught that you can tell a tree by its fruit. The tree of Egyptology has much “bad” fruit. Just saying, it requires a look see.

    Alan Montgomery

    Like

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