Review of Ahmed Osman's
Out of Egypt, The Roots of Christianity Revealed
Author: Ahmed Osman
Random House UK
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Tel: 840-8855; or from the US: 011 44 171 840-8855
Date of Publication: 3 September 1998
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Ahmed Osman was born in Cairo in 1934. He studied law at Cairo University and in the early 1960's worked there as a journalist. In the wake of continuing border disputes between Egypt and Israel, he decided in 1964 to leave Egypt for London in order to investigate the historical roots behind the political conflict between the two countries. Since then he has been researching and writing in a sustained attempt to reconcile the stories of the Bible with the historical evidence uncovered by archaeologists in the last hundred years. His previous books: Stranger in the Valley of the Kings (1987); Moses: Pharaoh of Egypt (1990); and The House of the Messiah (1992).
Out of Egypt: The Roots of Christianity Revealed, by Ahmed Osman presents the most complete examination to date on the relationship of the Amarna Period in Egypt with the birth of Israel. This book also presents fresh insight into the surprising Amarna precursors to Chrisitanity. As a result, the reader is provided with the most comprehensive, coherent and credible picture to date of the elusive origins of Judaism and Old Testament Messianic prophesy. The formidable challenge for Western readers will be in mustering the initial willingness to at least enterain that the Amarna Kings, including Akhenaten and Tutankhamun (yes, as in the former Pharaohs of Egypt), could have even remotely had anything to do with Judaism, much less Christianity. Yet, if one is somehow able to do this, the most amazing discovery in Religion of this entire century is waiting to be understood! With that potential payoff in mind, a charitable forbearance on the part of the reader is more than justified.
One tenet (of many) developed in Mr. Osman's new book is surprisingly straightforward when compared with today's confusing Dead Sea Scroll (DSS) theories. The 1st Century A.D. Jewish historian, Josephus, identified the Essenes as one of the four major Jewish sects of that period. Mr. Osman demonstrates that the name "Essene" is to be translated as "follower of Jesus (Essa)." This obvious literal translation had been overlooked, because of previously unquestioned assumptions about the novel origins of Christianity in the first Century A.D. In the new Eerdman's title, Beyond the Essene Hypothesis, Gabriele Boccaccini (p 47) implies that a convincing etymology for the name Essene has not been found, but that it applies to a larger group within Palestine that also included the Qumran community. Osman further points out that the particular "followers of Jesus" who were responsible for the DSS would naturally have drawn upon the book of Isaiah (also quite literally translated as "the book of Esais/Jesus") as their primary source of inspiration, and that no less than 18 copies of Isaiah have been found among the DSS.
If the namesake of the Essenes was not the first Century A.D. Jesus of Nazareth, then who could he have been? The first and most significant individual in the Old Testament record to be given the name Jesus was Joshua son of Nun, leader of the Israelite conquest of Canaan. (It is recognized that the most accurate translation is Jesus, and that Joshua is used in modern English translations to avoid "confusion." See footnotes in the King James Version where "Joshua" is found.) The logical place to look for the Jesus of the Essenes would therefore be in the person of Joshua, the man that Moses clearly designated as his equal (Deuteronomy 18:15). According to Osman, there should be nothing particulary surprising about this association either, as Christian thinkers from the early Church Fathers (and especially Eusebius who further informs us that Jesus/Joshua was NOT his original name) onward have always considered Joshua to represent a "pre-existent" type or symbol of the Messiah who was to come.
Now, hold on to your hoods and yarmulkes, here comes the truly astonishing part.
In Part I of "Out of Egypt," Ahmed Osman reworks and firmly establishes the association between the Biblical Moses and the historical Egyptian 18th Dynasty Pharaoh Akhenaten, which was first noted by Sigmund Freud. (See "Giants in the Land: Opposition to the Ideas of Ahmed Osman" on this site for additional background on Freud's Theory of Moses and it criticisms.) In the Bible, Moses is said to have been followed by Jesus/Joshua as leader of the Israelites. Akhenaten is known to have been succeeded to the throne by Tutankhamun (after the ephemeral reign of Semenkhare). Having a solid basis for associating Moses and Akhenaten, it therefore becomes logical and necessary to at least consider a potential relationship between Jesus/Joshua, the protege of Moses, and Tutankhamun, the successor of Akhenaten.
Analysis of the account in Numbers Chapter 25 led both Sigmund Freud and Ernest Sellin (who had earlier coined the term "scarlet thread") to conclude that an Israelite leader had been killed at Mt. Sinai. Sellin and Freud both suspected that it had been Moses. Having the advantage of a more complete historical framework, Ahmed Osman presents comprehensive and compelling evidence that the "death in the wilderness" disguised in the Bible account was actually not that of Moses as suspected by Freud and Sellin, but it must be none other than that of Joshua son of Nun (meaning "fish," and later a symbol of Christianity). Moreover, Osman concludes that this event was the archetypal source of the tragic killing of Jesus (the Essene's Teacher of Righteousness) at the hands of the "Wicked Priest," and that this event occurred (at least in its original form) at the end of the Egyptian 18th Dynasty with the killing of Tutankhamun (Jesus/Joshua) in a jealous rage by Pa-Nehesy (Biblical Phineas), the zealous High Priest of Akhenaten (Moses). In "Out of Egypt," Ahmed Osman does not lean on techniques of psychology, but on established archaeological findings, accepted historical documents, and objective critical analysis of Biblical texts in making many persuasive arguments to that end. For example, the Talmud confirms that Phineas killed Jesus. This is most certainly not the off-the-wall investigation that it might first appear to be, but one that a preponderance of historical material demands must be undertaken. (See "Gospel According to Egypt" on this web site for a few of the arguments discussed in Osman's earlier works.)
To give away but one new example from "Out of Egypt," Osman points out that the Apostle Paul wrote (in 1 Cor. 10:1-4 and Hebrews 4:2) that Jesus/Joshua was thereafter no longer with the Israelites physically upon their departure with Moses from Mt. Sinai, but only symbolically as the "Rock" that sustained Israel, a Rock which has continued to hang as an ominous cloud over the Jewish people from that fateful time forward. Therefore, the fantastical account of the Conquest of Canaan under Joshua was likely used to cover up the murder of Jesus as Ahmed Osman also suggests. If Phineas was subsequently killed in retribution of his act, this would explain the mysterious role Phineas plays in following Biblical accounts. However, the judgment by Osman that the Conquest itself was a pure fiction may be better off withheld, as further research may establish it as an adaptation of an earlier tradition of a Hebrew invasion of Palestine that was only later attributed conveniently to Joshua in the Bible. (It also could have been a recollection of the military campaign of Tutankhamun & Horemheb. See notes under Joshua in "Implications of the New Chronology on the Works of Ahmed Osman" found on this web site.)
Returning to a psychological argument (this time as my own observation, and not as a proof), the murder of an individual of Tutankhamun's magnitude certainly would have led to equally powerful and enduring traditions, especially considering that his untimely death (and many leading experts are now of the opinion that he was indeed murdered) resulted in the collapse of the Egyptian 18th Dynasty, which was arguably Egypt's finest. As Osman suggests, there would have remained among the Jews those who refused to allow a crime of this significance to be forgotten, and in times of trouble, such as after the fall of Jerusalem and deportation to Babylon in the 6th Century B.C., they would have reasserted that Israel's troubles were a consequence of this heinous act, and unrepentance for it. Such would have been sufficient motivation for the poignant theme in the book of Isaiah, which is thought to have been completed in the 6th Century B.C.
Conventional Dead Sea Scroll scholarship holds that the Essene sect that hid the DSS was formed after 200 B.C. with the death of a figure known as the "Teacher of Righteousness" at the hands of the "Wicked Priest." Alternative DSS theories (e.g., those of Shiffman, Eisenman, and Thiering) postulate that this event parallels 1st Century A.D. accounts mirrored by the Gospels. Still other theories, such as those offered by Phillip Davies, and Dutch scholars F. Garcia Marinez and A.S van der Woude, postulate an exilic formation of the Essene sect in the 6th Century B.C. (See Dead Sea Scrolls: The Complete Story by Jonathan Campbell). Ahmed Osman is more in line with the latter theories in that he posits that.
Essene beliefs were already ancient by the 2nd Century B.C., and derived from the suffering and sacrificial death of the Messiah recorded as late as the 6th Century B.C. in the Book of Isaiah. His theory would also seem consistent with the long lived strife between Enochic and Zadokite Judaism presented in Beyond the Essene Hypothesis. Osman's theory is unique in its development of the idea that the descriptions in the book of Isaiah were not only prophesies, but projections of an even more ancient event, i.e., the death of Tutankhamun/Joshua/Jesus. "Out of Egypt" discusses old (e.g., Philo) and new (e.g., Hag Hammadi Gospels) historical material related to Essene, Gnostic, and Therapeutae sects that were active in Palestine, the Sinai, and Egypt, as well as many other parts of the Roman World, both before and after the time of Christ. This treatment is used to strengthen the conclusion that the Qumran Essenes were part of a larger Jewish sect that held Joshua in equal reverence with Moses well before the established Christian era.
It has been said (by W. Wilson) that "originality is just a fresh set of eyes." In searching for new insight into Judeo-Christian origins, Ahmed Osman has succeeded where others have failed by virtue of his unique perspective as a native Egyptian, and by leaving no stone unturned in his pursuit of historical vision. In the cosmopolitan tradition of Alexandrian scholarship, the author draws from extremely wide ranging source materials, including recent archaeological discoveries in Egypt (monuments, tombs, texts, etc.); the writings of Egyptian, Jewish, and Christian historians in the Greek and Roman eras (Philo, Suetonius, Tacitus, Josephus, Strabo, Eusebius, Origen, Irenaeus, and others); the Bible and Rabbinical texts, the Koran and Arabic documents, the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Gnostic Christian writings found at Nag Hammadi, and the works of modern era researchers (P.L. Couchoud, Adolf von Harnack, Edward Zeller, A.T. Hanson, Adolf von Harnack, etc.).
Parts I and II of "Out of Egypt" provide a new organization and updating of the research presented in the author's three previous titles. This is helpful, because the historical associations of earlier works were presented in the order in which they were made by Osman rather than as a unified theory of Judeo-Christian origins. The author's unassuming style and unleavened narratives in Part I of the book may be too quickly dismissed as irrelevant or unscientific by impatient or over-critical readers. It will be especially difficult for those unfamiliar with the enormous significance of the Egyptian 18th Dynasty to perceive the potential importance of this research, and sadly most individuals today do not have even vague comprehension of this historical period. (The article, "The Gospel According to Egypt" on this site is an earlier epitome of Osman's prior works, and will provide background and an independent synthesis of this material for the reader.) Furthermore, due to the inveterate presuppositions we have each acquired in Western culture, it may be necessary for novices and experts alike to consider all of Mr. Osman's associations very carefully before the mighty gush of inspiration will flow out from this rock of scholarship. It is not only the strength of individual associations, but the large number of biblical-historical relationships made by Osman, which indicate that a breakthrough of enormous magnitude has been achieved.
Part III of "Out of Egypt" presents entirely new material. In this section, Mr. Osman attempts to demonstrate that the same conclusion that was reached in Parts I and II regarding the original identity of Jesus (by working forward from Egyptian archaeological records of the Patriarch Joseph and the Israelite Sojourn) can also be made by working backward from the early Christian era.
For example, Ahmed Osman points out that the simple formula of salvation through water baptism and faith in the resurrected god Osiris was already extant in the popular cult of Serapis during the centuries immediately preceding the Christian era. Osman goes on to state that after the conquest of Egypt by Alexander the Great, the appeal of immortality through this simple faith became dominant in Egypt, was actively exported beginning with Ptolemy I Soter, and readily adopted throughout the Greek world. The cult of Serapis was still quite prevalent during Roman times in the 1<sup>st</sup> Century B.C and 1st Century A.D., but began to lose official favor in Rome proper beginning with the demise of Mark Antony and Cleopatra. Osman further asserts that it was a logical refinement on the part of the Apostle Paul to substitute faith in a resurrected Christ Jesus for the resurrected Osiris in the Serapis cult. Moreover, Osman further shows that in late 1st Century A.D. Egypt, Christianity and Serapis were considered nearly equivalent in contemporary writings.
In his Epistle to the Galatians (1:11-24), Paul gives a short autobiographical account of his mystical encounter with Christ on the road to Damascus and the three full years in Arabia (which Osman asserts would have in those times included the Sinai) that immediately followed. Osman provides evidence that he would have been instructed in the desert by Therapeutae, Gnostic Christians, and/or Essenes in the "mystery of Christ," that being what was still known of the association of the original Jesus/Joshua with the anoited, de jure King of the Jews in Egypt, Tutankhamun. The connection between Tutankhamun and Osiris is seen by Osman as conventional Pharaonic belief (although rejected by his predecessor Akhenaten), and is graphically demonstrated by a mural in Tut's tomb. This mural is reproduced and explained in the book.
Ahmed Osman asserts that the reappearance of Jesus to the "disciples" in the 1st Century A.D. was a "spiritual" or symbolic manifestation only. If the identification of Jesus/Joshua, the successor of Moses, as the archetypal Messiah is correct, then this is a reasonable explanation. However, that a claimant to the Davidic line in the 1<sup>st</sup> Century A.D. (and there very likely would have been at least one) may have attempted to strengthen his right to rule based on association with ancient messianic traditions, cannot be categorically precluded either. The passage in Numbers 25 in which the sacrificial victim is struck with a spear might seem to contradict the Gospel account of death by hanging/crucification. However, the spearing of Jesus on the cross was also deliberately integrated into the Gospel account. In any event, a physical redramatization of the Messiah's death would not necessarily have been expected or even endorsed by Essenes in general unless it was to be clearly understood as a deliberate and symbolic reenactment. That "Rock" which provided life sustaining water for Israel in the Sinai was to be struck but once, and it was written that Moses was barred from the Promised Land for striking it again. In Osman's theory, Moses eventually died bequeathing only the "Law" that justly required judgement and death, however Jesus/Joshua had been killed and was believed to be living on as the resurrected Christ who forgives and brings eternal life. From Osman's association of the Gospel story of Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration with the earlier Mt. Sinai Convocation, it is clear that there would be a pardon in Christianity even for Phineas himself. Therefore, in Paul's Gospel (as clearly proclaimed in the Book of Hebrews), Jesus/Joshua was not merely the equal of Moses, but the greater.
In "Out of Egypt," Osman effectively demonstrates the contrived and improbable nature of many Gospel accounts, however the physical existence of a 1st Century A.D. claimant to the line of David still seems plausible, even if the Gospel stories attributed to him served only to further his Messianic and political pretensions. Osman's research is praised (and referenced nine times) in the opening chapters of Laurence Gardner's "Bloodline of the Holy Grail." (For a summary of "Bloodline," go to the Nexus Journal Home Page at: http://peg.apc.org/~nexus and look under "Selected Articles.") Although Laurence Gardner does not disclose all of his extremely eclectic and arcane sources, and has curious motives (yet, I do give him credit for disclosing those in Chapter 20), his suppositions still deserve consideration. For example, the Jesus of the Gospels would have been operating in the true "Grail" spirit of Tutankhamun (truly a son of Nun, i.e., born of adversity and "chaos") by assembling a coalition of all major Jewish factions (in the form of the "12 disciples") for the purpose of "restoring" Israel in the midst of the "plague" of an increasingly oppressive Roman rule. Desperate measures were required in those very desperate times as they were in Tutankhamun's, and the legitimacy or exclusivity of a 1st Century A.D. Jesus to rule may have been challenged as was the case for Tutankhamun and his predecessor Akhenaten.
By using the considerable political clout of one or more major religious sects and an established noble family to full advantage, a daring reenactment of Tutankhamun's hanging could have been staged, differing only in that this Jesus would not physically die, but instead be rescued, resuscitated, and made to reappear on the third day in classic Messianic form to "witnesses" who may also have assumed aliases in the form of the earlier tradition. In doing so, this Davidic claimant would not only have confirmed his worthiness as a descendent of the Judean Kings, but established his right to reign in the Divine order of the Davidic (Thutmosid) line of the Egyptian Pharaohs which ended with Tutankhamun. Even if this plan were successfully "executed," Jesus would still not have been able to return to public life after his "resurrection" for fear of exposing the ruse to the Romans and risking an inescapable death the second time. His whereabouts would have to have been kept secret until the "time was right." Unfortunately, the failure of the Jewish Revolt and ultimate literal death of the 1st Century A.D. Davidic claimant would have ended any immediate hope of his "return" to society as reigning king. This would also explain why the tone of the New Testament turned from immediate fervent expectation of Jesus' return to a resignment to "occupying" until the end times. Osman clearly evinces that although the Gospels of Paul and of Peter differed substantially, both were derived from an earlier and greater Messianic tradition, and neither depended on the immediate restoration of the Davidic Kingdom.
Out of Egypt begins with an impassioned appeal for healing and restoration of the dignity of the people of Egypt as a result of a new appreciation for the legacy of ancient Egypt in Western Civilization. The diversity of Christian faith in the 1st Century A.D. was inexorably replaced by a doctrinal monoculture resulting first from the zeal of Paul, and later from overt persecution by the Bishops of Rome. The success of the Roman Catholic Church in eradicating Egypt's spiritual and historical connection to its past has made Mr. Osman's task a formidable one indeed, however further insights are promised in a future work. Mr. Osman's deep respect for Jewish, Christian, and Islamic faith is evident in all of his writings. Out of Egypt itself is dedicated "to the Coptic Church of Alexandria." Despite the luminary nature of his research, Mr. Osman's sense of modesty has not allowed him to flaunt his discoveries or demand the end of faith as we now know it. I hope with Ahmed Osman that the startling insights that he and others are gaining into the ancient world will not diminish true faith and the good that it produces. I do hope that this knowledge will help put an end to religious intolerance (whether it be Christian, Jewish, or Muslim) and the fear and suffering that it produces.
With Akhenaten (Moses) and Tutankhamun (Joshua) we have the timeless conflict of totalitarianism vs. liberalism, legalism vs. compromise, purity of religion vs. tolerance, faith vs. works, love vs. fear, unity vs. diversity, etc., etc.) that was later reconciled (or at least attempted) in Christian "dualism" as fulfillment of "the Law" of Moses through the "Grace and Truth" of Jesus. In "Out of Egypt," we have new potential for bringing closure for millions of people who are by so many methods compelled to believe that they can only receive the gift of eternal life (and be spared from damnation as well) through repentance and faith in the Messiah (first of the Israelites and later of the World). The cruelty and senselessness of this Savior's death has perhaps only been exceeded by the pernicious disguising of his actual life, death, and "resurrection" and its original unadulterated significance. "Out of Egypt" presents compelling proofs that the Bilblical figure Joshua was not merely a "pre-existent" symbol or type of the Christ who was later to come, but the original source of the Messianic Hope itself! Mr. Osman puts the larger pieces together in this stunning and major new picture of Judeo-Christian origins, and offers the opportunity to reevaluate its worth in today's world. The landmark breakthrough, which in retrospect is quite straightforward and logical, was achieved only after decades of patient research in the true cosmopolitan tradition of Alexandrian scholarship. This author has triumphed, not only through sheer persistence, but as a result of his original perspective as a native son of Egypt and his freedom from the insidious biases that invariably plague this particular type of endeavor. This book will provide scientists, theologians, and serious thinkers of all kinds with inspiration for new research, meditation, and scholarly debate for many years to come.
The logical identification of Jesus as the leading Old Testament figure by that same name, and his further association with a short-lived, but now famous historical king of the Egyptian 18th Dynasty will, as "presaged" by Thomas Henry Huxley, most certainly involve the absolute rejection of all who have a vested interest in the status quo of Western Archaeology, History, and Religion. However, those who prefer not to trust matters of historical importance and faith entirely to an establishment mindset will want to seriously study "Out of Egypt" for themselves. History is written by the "winners" (military, political, or ideological), and the Bible is no exception. Nevertheless, "historical" accounts often contain concessions to the "losers," especially when they still represent a significant voice of conscience. It is from these concessions that a more accurate picture of history can later be reconstructed, and Mr. Osman has performed masterful detective work with respect to the tragic death of Jesus.
Mr. Osman's native language is Arabic, and he appears to produce scholarly writing in English with considerable effort, or only after translation. Despite this, Out of Egypt is logically and eloquently stated. Although not deserving of a Pulitzer, a discovery of such magnitude no matter its expression, and its potential benefit to human relations, is well worth the Nobel. Perhaps, it is poetic justice that as the so called age of Pisces now comes to a close, a deeper meaning of its most dominant philosophy and personality should be learned.
"Giants in the Land"
(Opposition to the Ideas of Ahmed Osman)
A historical/religious revisionist theory will encounter no greater resistance than the one you are about to consider. It is easily the best supported and documented of any Israelite Sojourn/Exodus theory, however it is also the most threatening to the establishment in all its myriad forms. A short list is provided below.
Kenneth Kitchen, Liverpool University's professor of Egyptology and recognized authority on the Egyptian 19th Dynasty, was quoted by the Washington Post on May 30, 1992 as saying. "It [Osman's theory] is absolute nonsense and there is nothing more to add." (See http://www.erols.com/strange1/mondorelig.html)
In the "Conclusions" of Exodus: The Egyptian Evidence, William Ward writes, "there is no archaeological context into which it [the Exodus] can be placed," and "Egypt remains uninterested and silent on the matter, as it always has." This statement belies the aversion of secular Egyptologists to mix the Bible with archaeology. And so, Mr. Ward and the other renowned contributors of Eisenbrauns' (1997) Exodus (Donald Redford, Abraham Malamat, Frank Yurco, William Dever, Ernest Frerichs, and James Weinstein) do not consider there to be a sound basis for any theory of the Exodus, much less for a controversial one. "Biblical Archaeologists" are, in direct contrast, obsessed with proving the inerrant truth of the Bible accounts. For this reason, it has taken a complete "outsider" to show just how completely blind the Western World has become to a mountain of evidence that rumbles noisily, but is not heard.
Strangely enough, the conclusion that Egypt is "uninterested and silent" comes from the collaboration of five North Americans (including the renowned Amarna Period archaeologist Donald Redford), and one Israeli scholar. In opposition to so many foreign and deaf ears, the leading native Egyptian authority on the Exodus, Ahmed Osman, and his four books on the subject, continue to speak loud and clear. Mr. Osman was invited to speak at his country's 75th Anniversary Celebration of the discovery of Tutankhamun's Tomb, which tells me that Egypt is quite interested (personally as well as metaphorically) in the Exodus. I expect that after exploring Ahmed Osman's research for yourself, you will realize (and I will share your excruciation and exhilaration when you do) that the cavalier Kitchen and the "ex-clusions" of "Exodus" are exemplary of the expanding Anglo-American and Judeo-Christian chauvinism.
(Perhaps, it is the non-Egyptians who are the true outsiders!)
In Patrick Durusau's "High Places in CyberSpace" (2nd Edition, Scholars Press), there is an entry for the Geoffrey Graham's Home Page, "Great Hymn to the Aten from the Tomb of Aye at Amarna." The description of the site reads, "Earlier translations and interpretations of texts from this time period were partially responsible for Sigmund Freud's "Moses and Monotheism" (published in 1939) and similar works that have now been discredited." Freud's and similar theories about Moses and Akhenaten (and, I presume Durusau would include Osman's), have NOT been disproved, but merely ridiculed to the point that most establishment scholars can no longer risk any association with them.
Nevertheless, three important books in the past decade, and two more within the past year, have restored respectability to Freud's final publication. These books are:
Moses the Egyptian: The Memory of Egypt in Western Monotheism by Jan Assmann
(Harvard University Press, http://www.hup.harvard.edu/S97Books/S97Catalog/moses.egyptian.html)
Archive Fever by Jacques Derrida
Freud's Moses: Judaism Terminable and Interminable by Yosef Hayim Jerushalmi
These three titles are discussed in the recent treatise, Freud and the Legacy of Moses by Richard Bernstein (1998, Cambridge University Press). A more popular title, Moses: A Life by Jonathan Kirsch (1998, Random House/Ballantine) also briefly and favorably revisits Freud's ideas. Bernstein writes in his preface, "The fact that three such eminent thinkers from different disciplines and cultural backgrounds have been drawn to The Man Moses and the Monotheistic Religion is itself forceful testimony to the power of Freud's last book." While restoring respectability to Freud's research, all of these authors stop short of endorsing its historical claims.
On the other hand, Osman's research provides complete vindication of Freud's investigation. Not that Freud was entirely correct in his identifications, but he was indeed very warm. Osman draws us far closer to the fire in this collective dancing and "beating around the Burning Bush." Freud by his own admission, was consciously pursuing what he passionately believed to be not only psychological meaning, but the "historical truth" regarding the origin of Judaism. However, before Osman, the comfort level of scholars ended with the suggestion (as Freud and others have made) that Moses may have been associated with Akhenaten's court. However, on the strength of several other salient Amarna-Biblical associations, Osman boldly pursued the possibility that the story of Moses was based primarily on the pharaoh Akhenaten, himself. It does not take a psychologist to recognize that scholars have been consciously drawn to Akhenaten, yet are still in subconscious denial that a figure of his magnitude and historical importance could be directly related to the Biblical account of Moses. (To put it in lyrical terms, "The closer your destination, the more you're slip sliding away." -Simon & Garfunkle)
Other psychologists have also explored Freud's fundamental concept of Moses. It was again taken up by the controversial Immanuel Velikovsky (a protégé of Freud's onetime favorite Carl Jung), and even more recently by the Psychoanalyst, William Theaux (See http://www.akhnaton.com). Dr. Theaux praises Osman for his development of Freud's initial association. Unfortunately, he rejects Osman's subsequent theory about Tutankhamun and the Biblical Joshua. Dr. Theaux personally interviewed Ahmed Osman, and describes on his web site the resulting psychoanalysis of how and why Mr. Osman went wrong after his triumphant work on Moses! My "psychoanalysis" of Dr. Theaux is that he unwittingly became "fixated" on the powerful Moses-Akhenaten-Oedipus relationship, and this is the reason behind his present inability to progress to the next logical "stage of development," i.e., Osman's work on the Messianic nature of Tutankhamun.
While the support of notorious (and eccentric) individuals in the field of psychology has preserved a following for Freud's identification, it has also increased the peril to professionals in other fields who might wish to consider it. To fully endorse the link between the Biblical Moses and the 18th Dynasty Egyptian Pharaoh Akhenaten remains tantamount to scholarly suicide. In a paper presentation at AAR/SBL '98, James Hoffmeier, Egyptologist and professor at conservative Wheaton College stated that the only resemblance between Psalm 104 and the Great Hymn to the Aten merely derives from the stylized "King James English" in which they were both popularly translated. Yet, even if no direct relationship between the two could be proven, "it would be necessary for us to invent it" as a result of numerous other associations between the Egyptian 18th Dynasty (and the Amarna Period in particular) and the Bible.
Peter Feinman of the American School of Oriental Religion (ASOR) has developed a theory that Mehy, a Vizier of Seti I, could have been Moses. While this theory is plausible, eloquently stated, and does not offend the sensibilities of either Egyptologists or Biblical Archaeologists, the paucity of factual detail indicates that it is yet another fleeting mirage on the Sinai horizon.
To sum up the first two sections of this essay:
"They are ever learning, and not coming to the knowledge of the Tuth's (Thutmosids)."
- 2 Timothy 3:7, "New Egyptian Translation, a paraphrase"
This is a little humor, however suppression of the truth (Romans 1:18,25) is no laughing matter.
Religious organizations have the most to fear from archaeological findings that indicate the Bible was less than forthright in its portrayal of the lives of the Patriarchs in Egypt. As a former "evangelical believer" and "Biblical literalist," I have to recognize the tremendous courage of Mr. Osman in steadfastly pursuing his research to its logical conclusion presented in House of the Messiah. One may chose to ignore or reject his views (and I certainly don't agree on every point), however the evidence upon which his conclusions are based is valid and now available to all.
If Osman's theory had been proffered by a liberal theology school professor, he or she would have been hailed as the dawning of a great new talent, however it has instead been evinced by a native Egyptian, and our Judeo-Christian chauvinism does not readily allow a Muslim to be granted such credibility, even in liberal scholarly circles. Yet, where is the forum for an intellectual Egyptian to present his research on events that transpired within the borders of his own country, and are of equal importance to his own people!? It should be noted that Osman was assisted in his most recent book by Helmut Koester, the renowned Harvard University Professor of the History of Ancient Christianity, and a quote from Koester graces the book's jacket.
At the 1998 American Academy of Religion/Society of Biblical Literature (AAR/SBL) Conference exhibit, a religion editor from a major publishing house studied the cover of Ahmed Osman's new book, leafed through its pages, and remarked, "Is this historical fiction?" No, certainly not, and as is so often and proverbially the case, "Fact is stranger than fiction." A reviewer at the Milwaukee Public Museum said of Osman's first two books Stranger in the Valley of the Kings and Moses:Pharaoh of Egypt), "Two fanciful but fascinating books linking Hebrew monotheism with the heretic pharaoh Akhenaten in intriguing ways." (See http://mpm.edu/collect/Israel.html).
The title of Mr. Osman's fourth book, Out of Egypt: The Roots of Christianity Revealed published in England only in September of 1998, is perhaps unfortunate. I hope when it is published in North America, that it will be given a title that achieves a more scholarly, as well as a more popular, appeal. I would think something along the lines of "The Amarna Kings and the Emergence of Israel" would be more telling of the book's theme and relevance.
The genius of Osman's theory derives from "out of the box" thinking, yet this is another reason (apart from its controversial nature) that so many cannot begin to perceive it. On the surface, Osman's ideas seem so unorthodox that experts and novices alike would tend to dismiss them "out of hand." Ahmed Osman is so far ahead of his class that even the faculty thinks he has a problem! In reality, Osman has solved a problem of enormous importance. The challenge that remains is the steadfast refusal of the mainstream Media, as well as Egyptology and Religion professionals to even recognize the existence of his insights, and thereby open the way for so many genuine seekers to be given the opportunity to at least consider them. Such an impediment is the motivation behind this Internet site.
Not that sincere saints will immediately accept it. Osman's theory contradicts what we have all been taught about the Bible, yet confirms what we instinctively know - that the Bible is a book written by men with the usual motives (both good and bad), and despite this, there is still a need and a place for faith. God-fearing, fellowman-loving folks will undoubtedly feel that it is their duty to squash Osman's "heresy." These people will be most sincere, however it is sadly true that we have often been sincerely (as well as deliberately) deceived. As a lifelong Christian I can deeply empathize with those who will realize that much of their striving may have been in vain.
We will shortly see which organizations and which individuals truly want to serve mankind, and which ones are mostly about greed, glory, control, power, and prejudice. It won't be the establishment that first embraces Mr. Osman's discoveries. Like most revolutions, it will begin with the despised, deserted, disenchanted, disheartened, and disestablished. Opposition will change from what is presently innocuous neglect and ridiculing, to censure, to caustic invective, and possibly even to overt acts of hatred. However, once the change in consciousness has been popularized by the ignored nobodies, then will come the wholesale adoption by the superficial somebodies.
4. Popular Culture
Disney's new feature length animated motion picture, Prince-of-Egypt, (to open December 18, 1998 in the US) is no doubt well meaning (as was the Ten Commandments and other previous films), however such treatments only serve to further ingrain our misconceptions about ancient Egypt and its relationship with Israel. We are both comfortable with the familiar tradition, and frustrated with our inability to gain any real understanding. To quote a line from the Prince-of-Egypt preview now being shown in theaters, a young animated Moses says in exasperation, "Everything about me is a lie." Truer words have never been spoken!
5. Government and Media
Most societies actually depend on widespread ignorance. If the populace were aware of its own manipulation, then there would also be widespread discontent. The Government and the Media are not in the business of distributing unfiltered information to society. They collectively take on the role of overprotective parents in the guise of their presumed responsibility to protect the public from themselves. However, once a government or press assumes this mission, there is no logical end to it. Potentially "dangerous" ideas must not be allowed prolonged exposure. And if they do receive publicity, counter arguments must be "marketed."
However, scholarly circles should be "parliamentary" in nature, and Mr. Osman's 30 years of original research, and four books on the subject are more than deserving of a voice. It is only right and appropriate that a native Egyptian should be given a forum to address an issue that is of equal importance to his own countrymen. Any deficiency in his English skills is more than compensated by his facility with Semitic and Egyptian sources. I have endeavored to help Mr. Osman make his worthy ideas more accessible, and to show that they are compatible with all available ancient sources. My hope is that the leadership of influential organizations will strive with me in setting aside any Anglo-American or Judeo-Christian chauvinism, and esteem powerful new insight equally with its scholarly presentation.
The authors/editors of the ancient Israel record in the Bible drew from a number of disparate traditions dating at least from the time of the Egyptian 12th Dynasty and onward. The resulting composite account makes it very frustrating for us to analyze today. However, this effort can (and is) being facilitated by disciplined minds from Religion, Archaeology, and many other fields. A multi-discipline approach is needed to better integrate the best original research from the likes of Ahmed Osman and David Rohl with the valuable contributions from "old school" scholars and scientists.
The new millennium may bring a new openness. Then again, it may take a hundred years before the world is ready to embrace the pain of historical truth over the false comfort of a continued cover up. It has been over 100 years since the discovery of Akhenaten's city at Tel-el-Amarna, and over 75 years since the discovery of Tutankhamun's tomb, yet the world still does not know who these individuals actually were! Regardless of societal opposition, the Internet has become today's "Great Equalizer." Osman and others may grow weary of the fight, but the computer is as patient as time itself. The real Y2K (Year 2000) Problem is not the time on a computer, but the knowledge that is easily accessible to anyone with or near a computer!
"It is now as it was in the days of" Moses. In those days, the majority of both Egyptians and Israelites would have found it expedient to suppress their mutual pain and embarrassment over the catastrophic events which occurred during the Amarna Period, and to blame the other for it. However, there would have been "conscientious objectors" among both groups who refused to allow even powerful leaders to completely suppress the ugly reality. Now, as then, it is only the few who are both willing and able to consider it. Perhaps, it will remain so, but it will again not go completely untold. As it was in the 1st Century A.D., there is a ready made audience for the enlightenment possible from Mr. Osman's research. The ubiquity of Gnostic, Therapeutic, and Serapis faiths in the Roman World allowed the closely related Gospels of Peter and Paul to spread very rapidly. Thanks to extensive evangelism of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, the same condition is true today.
I no longer trust in supernatural prophesies and fulfillment's, per se, however if the words of Isaiah 19:24-25 have any hope of realization in my lifetime, it is through the insights offered here. Surely, there will be a deep sorrow and then tremendous joy in the world if the historical consciousness of Israel's birth can ever be reawakened, and multitudes of Egyptians, Jews, Arabs, and Christians are made aware of their common physical and spiritual heritage. (Perhaps, in this sense, Paco Rabanne (see: http://www.gic.ch/git/a1~1.htm under Notes #3 and Bibliography) may perceive the underlying "psychology" of Ahmed Osman's plight. Ahmed Osman has unwittingly become the modern day muted "voice of Tut," and the brainwashed world is his self-righteous "Phineas." What a burden he has borne.) Of course, people will always find reasons to hate and to separate. New controversies will arise, and any gains in world unity will ultimately be lost. Yet, a new generation will be raised to reconcile the human race again.
The theme of Egypt's influence on Ancient Israel will certainly attract "minimalists" and "maximalists." One cannot overestimate the impact of Osman's maximalist ideas on those who have a vested interest in the status quo of archaeology, religion, history, and related fields. Fortunately, I can assure you that Mr. Osman has a genuine love for the Bible, and does not desire to diminish anyone's faith. Despite the nature of his conclusions, Mr. Osman's faith in the one God is still apparently quite strong. However, many who will soon embrace the ideas of Osman will not recognize the spiritual significance and deep symbolism of his research (only its literal/historical value), and therefore, will not be as patient and respectful as he has been to establishment resistance. My admonishment is not only for leaders as stated above, but I also challenge the young to curb their ambitions, and to recognize that discretion is still the better part of valor. To everything there is a season, and it is presently not a season for destruction, but for tolerance, forgiveness, and healing.
Press Release for "Out of Egypt"
The book demonstrates that the prophetic books of the Old Testament and their contents of the exploits and achievements of Abraham, Isaac, and his [grand]son Joseph are essentially Egyptian in origin. Furthermore, Ahmed Osman shows, by comparing the hazy chronology of the Bible and its factual content with the ancient Egyptian written records, that the major Old Testament figures - Solomon, David, Moses and Joshua - are based on Egyptian historical originals.
Not only were these major personalities and the stories - military, territorial and prophetic - associated with them nurtured on the banks of the Nile, but the major tenets of Christian belief - the one God, the Trinity, the hierarchy of heaven, life after death and the Virgin birth - are all Egyptian in origin.
Ahmed Osman provides in this book a convincing argument that Jesus himself came out of Egypt. The Essenes and the Gnostics were devoutly guarding the secret Egyptian teaching well before the first century AD. John the Baptist was himself an Essene, and St. Paul, as he indicates in his letter to the Galatians, had himself been initiated into the Egyptian mysteries by the Gnostics at Sinai.
The author shows how Egyptian, Biblical and Rabbinical sources, coupled with recent archaeological discoveries prove that the roots of Christian belief spring not from Judaea but from Egypt.
Some points discussed in Out of Egypt:
Amarna religious revolution:
- Akhenaten, king of Egypt (1378-1361 B.C.), was the first monotheistic ruler in history. He abolished the worship of the different gods of Ancient Egypt and introduced a deity with no image, "Aten," biblical Adonai, to be the sole God for all people.
- Akhenaten was overthrown by a military coup when he used the army to force the new religion on his people, and was replaced by Tutankhamun in 1361 B.C.
- Recognizing that ordinary people need a physical object for their worship, Tutankhamun allowed the ancient deities to be worshipped again, but only as mediators between the people and Aten.
- Pa-Nehesy (Biblical Phinhas), the high priest of the exiled Akhenaten, regarded this behaviour of Tutankhamun as heresy, and killed him.
- The Ancient Egyptians were the first to recognize a spiritual part of human life, as the Ka which leaves the body at the time of death.
- They also believed that, providing the physical body can be kept safe, the Ka could be reunited with it in a future time, and the person lives a second life. That is why they mummified the bodies and kept them in tombs secured with magical spells.
- But, as mummification and burial were too expensive, it was only the Kings and rich nobles who could hope for the second life.
- From the time of the 19th dynasty, following the death of Tutankhamun, a long process of philosophical and theological development took place. The result of this development, which materialized by the early time of the Roman rule of Egypt, appeared within the cult of Serapis before being identified as Gnostic Christianity.
- Now it became possible for ordinary people to hope for eternal spiritual life, without need for mummification. All they need is to confess in the resurrection of Christ and go through a ritual that included baptism by water.
St. Paul initiated at the foot of Mount Sinai:
- St. Paul had a different Christian Gospel from that of St. Peter and the rest of the Jerusalem Church. He was the first to regard Christ as the redeemer and the son of God and gave different meaning to baptism in confession of the resurrected Christ, rather than John's baptism for remission of sin.
Where did Paul get his Gospel from?
- In his letter to the Galatians Paul states that, having encountered the light of Christ on the road to Damascus, he retired to Arabia. In those times the political country of Arabia included not only East Jordan, but also Sinai.
- Paul speaks of Mount Sinai as being a holy place, which is in heaven. He also states that he remained in Arabia for three years before returning to Jerusalem with his new Gospel.
- Three years is the right time for initiation into the community of the Gnostic Christians whose hermits are known to have inhabited the area beneath Mount Sinai, which is now occupied by the Monastery of St. Catherine.