Testament: The Bible and History

John Romer, Author
John Romer, Author Henry Holt & Company $29.95 (367p) ISBN 978-0-8050-0939-2
Reviewed on: 02/27/1989
Release date: 03/01/1989
Notwithstanding the Old Testament account of the Israelites' enslavement in ancient Egypt, Romer claims that slavery on the scale described in the Book of Exodus simply did not exist there. Biblical scribes grafted the theme of national liberation--distilled from the Jews' subjugation in Babylon and Roman Judaea--onto this earlier epoch, he argues. Elsewhere, he draws remarkable parallels between the Genesis creation myth and Enuma Elish , a Mesopotamian epic. In this provocative and entertaining synthesis, a tie-in with a TV series, the noted Egyptologist gauges the historical validity of the Bible against archeological records and early texts. Through his wide-angled focus (enhanced with scores of illustrations), we look afresh at the New Testament, ``a soup with many exotic ingriedients,'' born amid a multiplicity of sects and faiths. In the book's second half, which traces the Bible's impact over the centuries, there are brilliant cameos: Constantine plundering his empire to decorate his Christian city of Constantinople; Petrarch, hit by a flash of revelation while climbing Mount Ventoux; Jerome, Irenaeus, Luther, Henry VIII, Gutenberg, Galileo, Thomas Huxley. Romer is a superb storyteller, and this history stands on its own, quite apart from the TV series. (Apr.)
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