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The Miracles of Exodus: A Scientist's Discovery of the Extraordinary Natural Causes of the Biblical Stories Paperback – April 13, 2004


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: HarperOne; Reprint edition (April 13, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060582731
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060582739
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #779,036 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

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 of detail and especially his comprehensive retracing of the Exodus route will invite curiosity, debate and perhaps some new ways of approaching the Exodus story in historical terms.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Humphreys, a Cambridge University physicist, takes a look at the story of the Exodus through the prism of science. Using ancient maps and employing such disciplines as geology, astronomy, and agriculture, he attempts to ground the stories in Exodus in the natural world, even to the point of positing a precise location for Mt. Sinai. It's not on the Sinai Peninsula, as many scholars assume, but instead, it's an active volcano in Arabia, Mt. Bedr. Although the complexity of some of the techniques he employs (and the scrutiny with which he examines the most minute details) may prove taxing for some general readers, most of the time the narrative is nicely paced and thoroughly intriguing. Certainly, Humphreys' enthusiasm is infectious. When he explains, for instance, the scientific reasons for the Ten Plagues and how the plagues are linked through science, readers will be carried along on the excitement of discovery. There are, of course, other books that offer theories about the Exodus, but this one deserves a place in the forefront. Ilene Cooper
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

The book is written in an engaging flowing style.
Israel Drazin
It is, in fact, the author's intention to stimulate discussion of the historicity of the written story of Exodus using scientific and rational arguments.
Paul R. Thomas
Even if you only have a slight interest in the topic matter, I'm sure this book will keep you reading.
Jessica G.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

29 of 29 people found the following review helpful By T. Bachman on September 6, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I thought this was a really fascinating book. Some readers may get a bit of a chuckle out of the author's exuberant and earnestly dramatic writing style, but that doesn't really matter much when his arguments are so well-defended. In particular, his discussion of the real Mt. Sinai is alone worth the price of the book.
For hundreds of years, the most learned men on the planet scorned those who dared suggest that Homer's Iliad documented an actual battle, at an actual city - until Heinrich Schliemann (amateur) proved them all wrong. And amateur linguist Michael Ventris likewise showed up the scholars with his famous translation of Linear B script. I wonder if Mr. Humphreys (whose area of professional expertise lies elsewhere) may have done something similar here with his book. Basically every serious archaelogist in the world has dismissed the Exodus as largely (if not entirely) fictional; and yet, as Humphreys shows, many of these dismissive conclusions derive from probably flawed assumptions due to mistranslations, errant dating, etc. His ideas and evidences seem to make so much more sense than every other take on the events recorded in Exodus that it is hard to not to feel he is really on to something.
This book's arguments are really intriguing. It's a great read regardless of whether one is a devout believer or a skeptic.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Jessica G. on December 9, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Then pick this book up. Usually I'm skeptical on reading books that "solve" history problems, but the book was on sale, and I needed something to read. Now I can't stop reading it. Far from being written like a textbook (god knows I have enough of those to deal with), this is much more light. It's in the format of a story, with you and the author as the detective. He poses the questions to you, as the reader, to come up with your own conclusions.

I'm still not finished reading it, but I don't anticipate this book losing what I like best about it- the historical accuracy. In books like these, most authors will only show there view. Occasionally, for good measure, they'll stick in a comment from the opposing side (and usually in the process will belittle that person). Thats not the case here. The author actually made sure every step of the way his information was actually correct, and established that with assorted individuals with great credentials. Not only that, but he poses all plausible scenarios, with pros and cons for each. I might also add he's getting things right. I just took a few classes that can coincide with it, from some very conservative professors (not a bad thing for historians. I'm almost positive that if I handed them this book, they'd agree. Try doing that with a Graham Hancock book- you won't get far.

This book doesn't rewrite history, it simply provides an argument on some of the greatest mysteries surrounding the Exodus. Where was Mount Sinai? What routes did the Israelites take? He uses different types of sciences (archaeology, geology, etc) to answer these questions, as well as linguistics and generally history.

If you're concerned about the religious context, it can be taken either way. I'm not religious, but I love biblical archaeology.
Read more ›
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 28, 2003
Format: Hardcover
This book is an excellent example of applying scientific logic to a fuzzy historical problem. Starting with a few basic assumptions, i.e., that Moses did exist (although he does point out that some scholars argue this point), that the Exodus did take place (although some scholars point out that there may have been more than one), and by interpreting the Book of Exodus as literally as possible, the author, a physicist, does a most admirable job of carefully analyzing the ancient writings in the light of modern scientific knowledge. The end results are twofold: 1) a reconstruction of the wanderings of Moses and the Hebrew slaves that does not agree with convention, and 2) credible scientific explanations for the various miracles described, e.g., the plagues of Egypt, the parting of the Red Sea, the crossing of the River Jordan, etc. The tremendous amount of research done in writing this book stands out, as does the author's passion for the subject matter. The result is a most absorbing account of the application of the scientific method to an intriguing historical problem. It now remains to be seen whether archaeology will prove the author right. Difficult to put down.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Mike Murphree on March 7, 2004
Format: Hardcover
This is the kind of book I'd normally scan for a few main items of interest. Instead, I found myself reading every word and I couldn't read anything else until I had finished the book.
Other reviewers (Paul Thomas, in particular) have given good accounts of what the book is about. Contrary to a couple of review comments, I found the author's relatively unsophisticated writing style to be a big plus. Humphreys, a man of obviously prodigious talents in several fields, writes in an easily understandable manner. I really liked the transparently human quality reflected in his excitement in finding potential solutions to this amazing puzzle. Unlike a lot of writng by academicians, it reflects a genuine person with a real life, emotions, and curiosity.
Also, I think the one reviewer not buying every detail of Humphreys' theory is a bit misleading, if not unfair. There's way too much here that is highly credible and extremely interesting to take such a dismissive attitude.
My only negative is that better maps and photos would have been nice.
In sum, though, it's a truly fascinating read that radically brings to life the Exodus event; and it should spawn considerable discussion and debate for years to come.
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