The Origins And Empire Of Ancient Israel, by Steven M. Collins
This book is an entry-level book into the discussion of the historical question of Israel’s ancient empire. For those who do not wish to tackle much harder or longer books such as K.A. Kitchen’s On The Reliability Of The Old Testament, or David Rohl’s Pharaohs And Kings, this book gives a sampling of at least some of their arguments in a form that is easy to read and unburdened by an excess of scholarly notes. I generally prefer a more scholarly approach myself, but it is a pleasant and easy enough read nonetheless, and its conclusions sufficiently well supported by evidence to make this a worthwhile book for those who want to know the real story of Israel’s golden age.
This book is part of a fairly large grouping of books that seeks to uncover the hidden and neglected story of ancient history that disproves the historical march of progress of the evolutionary historical model. Instead, this book (and the remainder of the series) show a more “spiral” view of history that shows cycles of decreasing obedience to God through time and brief periods of covenantal renewal and blessings. This more nuanced view of history recognizes that mankind has done the same sorts of things over and over again, discovering the Bessemer Process three thousand years ago and then recovering that knowledge only about a hundred and sixty years ago or so.
Where the book particularly shines is in its exposure of little known evidence of Israelite, Phoenician, and Egyptian presence in the New World, from Paraguay to New Mexico to Iowa to the Great Lakes area and over to New England. Collins manages to provide some excellent evidence of stones that show paleo-Hebrew, and even a trilingual stone in three ancient languages, that demonstrate a Mediterranean presence in the Americas three thousand years ago. In fact, it is becoming increasingly clear given the historical picture in general that any power that could field a remotely sizable navy in either the Pacific or the Atlantic probably discovered America at some point. That would mean that, except for the Dark Ages in Europe (and not even entirely during then), the Americas were never lost at all.
It is worthwhile to consider why this entirely plausible and reasonable idea (one that corresponds with a host of material evidence, especially concerning American metallurgy) meets with such great skepticism among others. For one, it demonstrates that a great deal of knowledge and advances were lost, thus showing the Roman Empire and the period after it as a time of massive loss that was only fairly recently recovered. Additionally, it demonstrates the power of the biblical people and the unpleasant truth that far from exaggerating the power of Israel, the Bible actually understates it. That’s a truth that few historians want to accept.
That is not to say that this book is flawless. It is clearly based at an audience that is not familiar with scholarly works (and may in fact be prone to be hostile to them). It is not a specialist work by any means, and not aiming at academic credibility. It also endorses a revisionist chronology of Egypt’s pharaohs. That said, the book clearly knows and clearly aims at its target audience. And that audience is quite ready to celebrate books like this, even if some of us (myself included) would have preferred a more academic approach, simply out of our own personality and inclinations, like Kitchen’s majestic and thorough work. This book is not on that level, nor does it aim to be, but it is a modestly pleasurable read nonetheless, on a very modest and simple level.