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Summary

For more than four decades, biblical experts have tried to place the story of Exodus into historical context - without success. What could explain the Nile turning into blood, insects swarming the land, and the sky falling to darkness? Integrating biblical accounts with substantive archaeological evidence, The Parting of the Sea looks at how natural phenomena shaped the stories of Exodus, the Sojourn in the Wilderness and the Israelite conquest of Canaan. Barbara Sivertsen demonstrates that the Exodus was in fact two separate exoduses stemming from two volcanic eruptions. Over time, Israelite oral tradition combined these events into the Exodus narrative known today.

Skillfully unifying textual and archaeological records with details of ancient geological events, Sivertsen shows how the first exodus followed a 1628 B.C.E. Minoan eruption that produced all but one of the first nine plagues. The second exodus followed an eruption of a volcano off the Aegean island of Yali almost two centuries later, creating the tenth plague of darkness and a series of tsunamis that "parted the sea" and drowned the pursuing Egyptian army. Sivertsen's brilliant account explains inconsistencies in the biblical story, fits chronologically with the conquest of Jericho, and confirms that the Israelites were in Canaan before the end of the sixteenth century B.C.E. In examining oral traditions and how these practices absorb and process geological details through storytelling, The Parting of the Sea reveals how powerful historical narratives are transformed into myth. The book is published by Princeton University Press.

©2009 Princeton University Press (P)2011 Redwood Audiobooks

Critic reviews

"The most coherent correlation yet of ancient Egyptian history, the archaeology of both Egypt and Palestine, and the biblical traditions of pre-literate Israel... This outstanding accomplishment should be a source of research direction for years to come." (Publishers Weekly)

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  • john
  • 09-05-18

Chock-full of good info, but . . .

If this is a subject that interests you, by all means read it. I'm very interested, but would have been better off reading a hard-copy version. This is a reference book, and is filled with physical description, and ancient place-names, which were difficult (no, impossible) for me to absorb driving @ freeway speed, serve little to move the book forward.
If you are going to listen to it, I would read the last chapter first, to get an overview.

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  • Lin SP
  • 02-07-12

Very detailed and interesting

What made the experience of listening to The Parting of the Sea the most enjoyable?

An interesting alternative view of the Exodus story. Although I've encountered some of the ideas before, This book explains and supports them well.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

No - it's very detailed. It took me about 3 or 4 parts to take it in - then I listened again.