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Lunch » Tags » Books » Reviews » The Miracles of Exodus: A Scientist's Discovery of the Extraordinary Natural Causes of the Biblical Stories » User review

Brings science and history to life

  • Apr 12, 2010
Rating:
+5
I like math. I like science. And I like the Bible. So this book is just perfect for me; it's by a serious scientist from Cambridge University, England, and it's about a really serious study of a famous story in the Bible.

Actually, Colin Humphreys is more than "just" a serious scientist. He's the sort of person who will take a trip to the Red Sea to investigate whether his theories might be true. And then he'll write about the trip in a gently personal style, giving the reader a chance to share his excitement in his discoveries.

Have you heard the story that the Red Sea crossing really happened in a sort of muddy puddle? I remember learning that the ancient Hebrew texts read "Reed Sea" or lake rather than Red Sea, but Humphreys asks the rather obvious question, why was it ever mistranslated. After all, the Hebrews who wrote, read, and presumably believed "Reed Sea" are the self-same people, centuries before Christ, who translated their own words into Greek, rendering the Hebrew "Reed Sea" into "Red" in Greek. Is it more logical to assume they made a very English mis-translation, or that the two names referred to the same body of water, much as Netherlands and Holland both refer to the same country? Of course, if that's the case, there should be part of the Red Sea that's both red and reedy, and so he takes a trip...

I loved the lively, enthusiastic text. I loved the rigorous but comfortably explained logic. I loved the sense of adventure as each step in the Exodus journey became something real and relatable, even the plagues of Egypt, even the smoke on the mountain. And I found myself in awe, rather like the disciples when Jesus calmed the waves, of a God who could so perfectly control nature.

Of course, the alternative conclusion is that an awful lot of coincidences led to either the real events of the Exodus, or the imagined events being so scientifically plausible and verifiable. I like simple conclusions, and I view the author's analysis as pointing to the actions of God. But the reader is never told what to believe. A true scientist, Professor Humphreys lets the evidence speak for itself and keeps his personal opinions out of the way.

After reading this book, I can finally imagine a version of Exodus that makes sense. I've wanted for so many years to touch that column of fire and smoke. Now I know why I can't, and the answer truly delights me.

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More The Miracles of Exodus: A Scie... reviews
review by . January 29, 2010
Bible readers have been debating whether the biblical stories of the Israelite exodus from Egyptian bondage actually occurred, whether it happened in a much smaller scale, if the scriptural miracles were natural occurrences and, in short, what actually happened. Colin J. Humphreys, a scientist, takes a naturalistic non-supernatural approach. He addresses stories told in the book of Exodus, such as how can a bush keep burning, what was the manna that fell in the desert, and where exactly were Mount …
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Sheila Deeth ()
Ranked #42
Sheila Deeth's first novel, Divide by Zero, has just been released in print and ebook formats. Find it on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Powells, etc. Her spiritual speculative novellas can be found at … more
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Wiki

Reconstructions of biblical events by modern investigators are nothing new, but Humphreys's analysis of the Exodus reflects an unusual combination of homework, legwork and creativity. Humphreys, a materials scientist at Cambridge University, is a self-confessed amateur in the fields of archeology and biblical studies. But he emerges as the best sort of amateur, whose enthusiasm for his subject and joy in puzzle solving have a contagious appeal in spite of occasional quirkiness. As an outsider asking pesky but often astute questions, Humphreys will remind some readers of a certain physicist portrayed in Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!; and like Feynman, Humphreys shows an ability to sidestep scholarly assumptions by checking facts. Humphreys runs numbers, consults disused geological charts and old explorers' memoirs, and investigates sites on foot, unearthing fragmentary but wide-ranging evidence. The book's title is somewhat misleading since Humphreys's goal is to reconstruct the whole Exodus narrative and in particular, to retrace the likeliest route of travel and identify the correct location of Mount Sinai rather than to focus on the miracles themselves. Still, Humphreys rises to a self-imposed challenge to account for the Exodus miracles in terms of natural events (some more feasible than others) that become miraculous in light of their timing and significance for the escaping Hebrews. Although many of his hypotheses have been published before, Humphreys' refinements ...
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Details

ISBN-10: 0060582731
ISBN-13: 978-0060582739
Author: Colin Humphreys
Publisher: HarperOne

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"This is eye opening"
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