An Editorial Comment -- By: Bryant G. Wood

Journal: Bible and Spade (Second Run)
Volume: BSPADE 12:4 (Fall 1999)
Article: An Editorial Comment
Author: Bryant G. Wood


An Editorial Comment

Bryant G. Wood

People are always trying to change Egyptian chronology. I am not entirely sure of the motivation for this. Some claim that it results in better correlations between the findings of archaeology and the Bible. But in the end, the correlations are worse than using the standard chronology. It appears that the main reason for attempting such changes is to “prove the establishment wrong.”

Egyptian chronology has been a major subject of scholarly inquiry for the past two centuries, involving scores of scholars trained in the language, history, and archaeology of ancient Egypt. Egyptologists are a highly independent breed and are anxious to discredit their fellows and make a name for themselves. The entire process, therefore, has been one of ongoing criticism, correction, and refinement. There is now a mountain of evidence that has been analyzed in detail to produce the current Egyptian chronology.1

Those attempting to make revisions are usually laypersons untrained in the specialties needed to deal with the primary data. They simply brush aside the years of careful scholarship that has gone before them, and set up their new systems oblivious to the vast array of available technical data and the complexities of chronological issues.

The latest such chronology to capture the attention of the public is that of David Rohl in his 1995 book Pharaohs and Kings: A Biblical Quest (Rohl 1995b).2 Rohl is different from most who venture into this arena in that he has had some Egyptological training and attempts to deal with many of the technical aspects of the subject.

Rohl wishes to down-date Egyptian chronology by several hundred years by shortening the 20th Dynasty and overlapping the 21st and 22nd Dynasties (Rohl 1995b: 144, 384). This would impact the dating of the archaeological periods in Palestine, since dates for the Bronze Age are dependent upon Egyptian chronology.3 In turn, the relationship between the archaeological periods and Biblical history would be shifted.

Rohl’s ideas have been critiqued from the Egyptological side by several scholars (Bennett 1996; Brissaud 1996; Kitchen 1996b: xlii-xlvi [summarized in Byers 1997]; van Haarlem 1997). To my knowledge, however, no one has evaluated the impact of his proposed chronology on Palestine. I would like to make a few cursory observations on the effect Rohl’s chronology would have on Palestinian archaeology and correlations with Biblical history.

Rohl claims that his revised chronology will solve the “problem” of the Conque...

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