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Official Review: Thera and the Exodus by Riaan Booysen

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Official Review: Thera and the Exodus by Riaan Booysen

Post Number:#1 by npandit
» 11 Jul 2014, 15:49

[Following is the official OnlineBookClub.org review of "Thera and the Exodus" by Riaan Booysen.]

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The more I read about ancient history--the more it becomes apparent how little we can truly know about the details and reality of what took place in the fascinating, turbulent, and sparsely documented lives of our ancestors. Thera and the Exodus is a treatise which attempts the gargantuan feat of sifting through vast jigsaw puzzle pieces of historical fact mixed in with misleading bits of legend posing as the truth, and tries to painstakingly separate the two--ultimately threading together a picture that may explain the real reasons behind the Exodus.

Booysen presents some interesting theories, some of which are:

(pg 4)
• "Two Exodus events took place; the first when Ahmose [ruler of Upper Egypt] overpowered the Hyksos ancestors of the Israelites] throughout Egypt except in Avaris, the Hyksos capital, from where the inhabitants of the city managed to escape to Canaan. The second Exodus occurred roughly 200 years later when the Hyksos originally taken captive by Ahmose in the other parts of Egypt and possibly later by Tuthmosis III in Canaan, left Egypt under the leadership of Moses."

• "The biblical plagues of Egypt can be linked to the after-effects of the eruption of [a volcano on the Island of Santorini, known in ancient times as] Thera."

• "The Pharaoh of the Oppression was Amenhotep III, while his son Akhenaten was the Pharaoh of the Exodus whom Moses confronted."

• "The biblical Moses is [the] Crown Prince Tuthmosis, the firstborn son of Amenhotep III."

• "In a desperate attempt to bring an end to the plague, Amenhotep III, on the advice of his oracle also called Amenhotep, issued a decree that all firstborn offspring in Egypt should be sacrificed in the fire. Prince Tuthmosis (Moses) was the first in line to be sacrificed, but was saved from the fire in the nick of time."

• "Moses led a violent and successful rebellion against his father. His army consisted of the enslaved Hyksos captives and those Egyptians affected by the plague. Moses was assisted by an army of the Hyksos nation that had escaped Ahmose 200 years earlier to settle in Jerusalem."


Thera and The Exodus is not written like a story, but is worth reading for a very well researched account of a possible explanation of the Exodus.The following is the criteria I used to give the book its overall rating:

    1. What was the book’s purpose and did it achieve it? (4/4)

    (Pg 2) “The purpose of this treatise is to link together the numerous legends about the Exodus in an attempt to reconstruct the actual events of the Exodus, whatever they may be...In this treatise I will endeavour to prove that the fate of the Israeli nation was determined by not one but possibly up to three eruptions of Thera. The final eruption and the subsequent sequence of events occurred at a time when Egypt was the most dominant nation in the Middle East, and the chaos that ensued reverberated throughout the civilized world of that era. Numerous legends survived that will all be shown to be linked to the calamity that befell Egypt and nearly caused its total annihilation.”


    The author goes into extensive analysis, focusing very heavily on Egyptology and linguistic analysis, as well as historical accounts of the various players in the exodus as described by the Bible, Koran and various non-religious historical documents of the time--and pieces together all the information to draw several conclusions--finally presenting evidence which suggests (among other things) that Moses was Prince Tuthmosis, and the plagues were really the result of the volcanic eruptions of Thera. His argument is compelling and very detailed.

    2.Was it interesting? (Writing/Style) (2/4)

    This was unfortunately one of the weaker points of the book. Though the subject matter is fascinating, and the author’s hypothesis is unique and interesting, my enjoyment of this wonderfully researched and interesting claim regarding the possible real-life events of the exodus was somewhat hindered by the dry narrative and very academic, bullet-point delivery.

    The style of writing suggests that it was only written for scholars already well-versed in the subject; but there were extensive descriptions for the benefit of the lay-person, and the content seems to have been written for anyone holding a passing interest in the subject. For this reason, it should have also, in my opinion, been written in a style that would hold a lay-person’s attention. Pure intrigue at the premise of this book’s hypothesis will not be sufficient for the average person to keep reading. In my opinion it would be a waste for all of this research and effort to be limited only to an audience that has the capacity to read through very dry material.

    3.Was it original? (4/4)

    The author presented a very unique argument; and where he agreed with other scholars or historians, he was diligent in using references.

    4.Was it organized (grammar/structure/theme)? (3/4)

    The book is laid out into several sections and subsections which follow a logical order, in that one point and chapter leads into the next, providing background to support the author’s conclusions. However, since so much information is presented, it was a little difficult to keep track of all the facts, which were given very rapidly. As I read the final few chapters, the focus did seem to come together, but during reading, I often found myself losing track of why certain points were being discussed, and how they related to the overall conclusion; having to re-read several times, as I tried to remember all the information presented in quick succession.

    Though this may have been a result of the writing and style rather than organization; in my opinion, it would be worth getting the book edited a little further so that it is organized in a way that is clearer and easier to follow, even if it means that it might have to be divided into two or three volumes.

    The author tries his best to present the information in the most helpful manner, including supplements of maps and lists of key points. However, there were so many different accounts of the same events, and so many different names for the same people—that after a while it was difficult to keep track of who was who, and for ease of reading it would have been better if instead of several bullet points at the end of almost every section, there had been another method to bind all the information together in a way that was a little easier to follow.

    5.Was it well researched? (4/4)

    Gradually and painstakingly, the author presented all his research and linked his points together. It was very evident how much effort and research had gone into the formation of his theory. Booysen researched Egyptology, linguistics, several religious and non-religious historical documents, as well as volcano science-- and included a full list of sources filling several pages in the back of the book. Like a true scientist, the author explained his assumptions, listed his references, and drew his conclusions—opening up his hypothesis to other scholars in the area either to challenge his theory or to be inspired to ask their own questions in the field.

I would recommend this book to anyone interested in the historical events that may have been the inspiration for biblical stories; and especially to anyone already invested in the subject. For people who are not scholars in this subject already, I would recommend it only if they don’t mind a bit of dry reading. Very thoroughly researched, and an original, compelling argument—based on the average of all the points above, I think this book deserves a 3 out of 4.

***
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Re: Official Review: Thera and the Exodus by Riaan Booysen

Post Number:#2 by Little House
» 21 Jul 2014, 14:42

Great review!

It sounds as if the author really knows his subject, but as is too often the case, doesn't know how to explain it to the lay person. I would guess that the author has spent so long studying this subject that he can't remember what it is like to not thoroughly understand it. Like you mentioned, an editor might be able to help with that.
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Re: Official Review: Thera and the Exodus by Riaan Booysen

Post Number:#3 by npandit
» 22 Jul 2014, 13:40

Thanks! Agreed regarding the editing--would be nice if he made an abridged version for the 'average joe' :-)
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Re: Official Review: Thera and the Exodus by Riaan Booysen

Post Number:#4 by sahmoun2778
» 31 Jul 2014, 12:50

Thank you a very thoughtful review. It sounds like a book with some very interesting ideas and perhaps a new take on an old story.
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Re: Official Review: Thera and the Exodus by Riaan Booysen

Post Number:#5 by npandit
» 02 Aug 2014, 00:47

sahmoun2778 wrote:Thank you a very thoughtful review. It sounds like a book with some very interesting ideas and perhaps a new take on an old story.


Thank you for taking the time to read and comment! I did find that it had many interesting ideas, and if you choose to read it, I certainly hope you enjoy it and let us know your thoughts. :)
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Re: Official Review: Thera and the Exodus by Riaan Booysen

Post Number:#6 by CatGitane
» 06 Sep 2014, 19:48

Oh my God, this seems so interesting :D! I love historical documentation and reading your review I thought I must add it to my wish list. Thank you ^^!
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Re: Official Review: Thera and the Exodus by Riaan Booysen

Post Number:#7 by npandit
» 06 Sep 2014, 20:10

CatGitane, I'm so happy you think so!! Very welcome; I hope you enjoy it! :)
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Re: Official Review: Thera and the Exodus by Riaan Booysen

Post Number:#8 by CatGitane
» 07 Sep 2014, 13:09

Yes, indeed! :D Why, thanks for the reply. I'm sure I will ^^.
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Re: Official Review: Thera and the Exodus by Riaan Booysen

Post Number:#9 by npandit
» 08 Sep 2014, 11:00

CatGitane, please let us know what you thought of it once you read it; I would love to hear your thoughts as well. :)
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Re: Official Review: Thera and the Exodus by Riaan Booysen

Post Number:#10 by Aklila Kedan
» 13 Apr 2015, 15:12

Thank you for your detailed review. It really cultivates my interest :D
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Re: Official Review: Thera and the Exodus by Riaan Booysen

Post Number:#11 by npandit
» 15 Apr 2015, 13:31

Aklila Kedan wrote:Thank you for your detailed review. It really cultivates my interest :D


You're welcome! Thanks for your comment...I hope you enjoy reading it and let us what you think! :)
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Re: Official Review: Thera and the Exodus by Riaan Booysen

Post Number:#12 by gali
» 11 Aug 2016, 10:13

Great review! I have read the first pages and it does seem like a well researched account.

Congratulations to the author on the positive review!
In the case of good books, the point is not to see how many of them you can get through, but rather how many can get through to you." (Mortimer J. Adler)
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Re: Official Review: Thera and the Exodus by Riaan Booysen

Post Number:#13 by Vermont Reviews
» 11 Aug 2016, 10:42

I have downloaded my copy and look forward to finishing it. Congratulations on a great review. You've done a wonderful job.

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Re: Official Review: Thera and the Exodus by Riaan Booysen

Post Number:#14 by jungkookblog
» 11 Aug 2016, 11:20

I love non-fiction! Especially ones that are like these. I can't wait to read it!
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Re: Official Review: Thera and the Exodus by Riaan Booysen

Post Number:#15 by Radhika_17
» 11 Aug 2016, 11:32

Although I'm not much into non-fiction but this one seems good! Thanks for sharing the review. :)
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