For Counterpoint, read Dr. Ashraf Ezzat’s “Are The Unholy Books Hijacking History? ” For further arguments, see Alexis’ “Historical Problems with Ashraf Ezzat’s Egypt Knew Neither Pharaoh Nor Moses,” and “Dying and Rising Gods in the Ancient Near East.” Readers must be aware that Ezzat is not interesting in historical debates and being challenged. In fact, he wrote at the end of one of his articles in 2016: “This essay is primarily targeted toward the VT audience/community of readers. Therefore, I don’t need/excpect any response/review form VT colleague staff writers. (The last ones proved to be hazardous to my already active Gastric ulcer).
The last thing a serious person wants to do when investigating historical or scientific descriptions is to reject or embrace an alternative view without careful thought and much evidence. Hence, investigating historical descriptions dictates that sober thought and sane reflection should be some of our tools, and those tools can only be used properly through serious education.
In education, if there are two or three alternatives regarding an important issue, the educator must expose his students to all three and examine the evidence for them, including the strengths and weaknesses of each alternative. If the educator says, “Alternative number one is just nonsense” without saying why it is nonsense, then there are a number of possible assumptions that could be drawn about the educator.
First, he is incompetent or too lazy to examine alternative views; second, he does not know what the other alternative is actually saying; or third, he must be following an ideology that does not allow him to look at other alternatives in a serious manner.
To be honest, these have been some of my conclusions after reading some of the key points that Ashraf Ezzat continues to posit. First of all, I really appreciate him taking the time and energy to respond to my review of his kindle book. At the same time, I am completely shocked that a person who purports to write a historical book would continue to perpetuate one irresponsible statement after another.
It must be said in passing that both Ezzat and I live in the same real world, and if we are going to discuss this issue carefully, then both of us have to abide by reason, logical consistency, historical inquiry, and, above all, a love for the truth. I am begging him to stay on that path, for this will allow both of us to make progress in our discussion.
For the record, I also am reluctant to say that I was not born yesterday. I have been studying most of these issues for more than fifteen years and I pretty much know the scholarly material and what the issues are. For example, I have been interested in the issue of slavery since 2000. I was then a junior in college.
So, I take these issues very seriously. I have also exhaustively spent countless hours reading the work of people who have different positions or opinions. In fact, for the past two years alone, I have done my best to read at least 10 articles virtually every single day.
So, when Ezzat begins his article by saying that “Alexis claimed to have read my book,” leaving readers with the impression that I probably did not read it, I could not help but laugh a bit. How long does it really take to read a book that is less than 110 pages?
Furthermore, why did I quote the book extensively throughout my “awfully long” article if I just “claimed to have read” it? Last March, I received a message from Ezzat promoting the book and saying, “I hope this will evoke some brainstorming, and hopefully reassessment of ancient beliefs/dogma.” I responded by saying that I was reading the book with great interest and was planning to respond at the end of April or the beginning of May. So, for Ezzat to mislead readers by saying that “Alexis claimed to have read” the book is simply bogus.
In his response to my critique of his work, Ezzat accuses me of the following:
“Mr. Alexis has set off his by claiming (actually misleading many readers) I had no shred of evidence nor had I incorporated (in the book) any scholarly work/investigation to corroborate my thesis/claim.”
Any scholarly work/investigation? Why doesn’t he quote me contextually before making this irresponsible accusation? It is very disappointing when Ezzat starts making claims like this in a response that purports to be logical.
I never said that Ezzat does not incorporate “any scholarly work” in his book. Here is what I wrote in plain English:
“Anything that seems to support Ezzat’s thesis will be brought to the fore, though some of those things are without serious analysis…What is quite obvious throughout the book is that scholars who do not support Ezzat’s thesis will be dismissed or ignored without sober thought. But scholars who support his enterprise will be mentioned over and over.”
Does that support Ezzat’s accusation? And how did he skip that paragraph and move on to postulate an absurd assertion?
I also said clearly that I was very disappointed with the way that Ezzat uses his sources and gave one example after another. As a corollary, I made the point that Ezzat picks and chooses what he wants readers to know. For example, I said:
“Ezzat quotes Egyptologist Donald B. Redford approvingly throughout his book, but he could never tell his readers that Redford also believes that ancient Egypt had slaves, a point which Ezzat denies.”
Even in his new article, he summons Redford to support his thesis but he does not even mention that Redford would take issue with him.
Furthermore, I gave numerous other examples where Ezzat dismisses the work of others without a shred of evidence–sometimes with just a few sentences and with no logical or historical coherence. Now he moves on to say in an incredibly acerbic tone:
“But I don’t get paid (by Biblically intoxicated institutions) nor abide by Zionist paradigms in my work, like most Egyptologists, so why the hell should I join the whispering chickens’ club.”
If that is how scholarly discussion is supposed to happen, then perhaps I was wrong again to read Ezzat’s book. I mentioned numerous scholarly sources and ancient documents which make Ezzat’s major enterprise irresponsible, and none of those sources got a fair hearing. Instead, Ezzat accused me of being “trapped inside the Jewish/Zionist (Both similar in that regard) phony definition of Mizraim which would once again drag you to Egypt (fraudulently peddled by the Jews as their place of bondage).”
People like me, he continues to say, should “enlighten” themselves “with the research carried out by a serious community of scholars (mostly Arabic) and independent researchers including myself that will help you expose a two-thousand-year deception.”
So, Ezzat, as I am beginning to learn, writes a book about slavery and about Egypt, but when one challenges that premise, the response is that we all should “enlighten” ourselves “with research carried out by the serious community of scholars and independent researchers including myself…”
In other words, listen to Ezzat and his community of research. No further research is necessary. If you disagree with Ezzat and provide sources and actual documentation which show that his research is misleading and impressively incoherent, then you are “trapped in the Jewish/Zionist” matrix. Or, as he would further put it, you are one of those “millions of uneducated people” who need to be “enlightened.”
So, scholars like James K. Hoffmeir who spent decades studying this issue and came to opposite conclusions are just again “uneducated” and probably “insane.” Perhaps institutions like Oxford, Johns Hopkins, and Louisiana State University, that end up publishing books by those scholars are diploma mills.
Ezzat says that I have never touched on his “classical repertoire of ancient Arabian oral history and folktales.” Why should I touch on “oral history and folktales” here? How do I verify them? I specifically touched on things that could be historically verified, not on things that are somewhat irrelevant to the major thesis of Ezzat’s book.
And if we are to move the discussion to the realm of “oral history and folktales,” what about other oral history and folktales that disprove Ezzat’s claims? Is Ezzat going to seriously discuss them as well? Is he implicitly saying that the “oral history and folktales” he has presented should be viewed as real history? If so, then he is making my job way too easy because I can summon numerous “oral history and folktales” that will completely destroy his project.
Then here comes his unscholarly ranting:
“But I got news for Mr. Alexis et al., if you keep viewing things only through your western prism (a regrettable thing for an Afro-American), you definitely won’t be able to find the truth regarding the origin of the Judeo-Christian faith and literature (dogma). By the way, African mythology and theology  harbored much more elevated spiritual beliefs than the tribal and violent cult of the Israelites gallantly defended by Mr. Alexis.”
“Viewing things only through…western prism”? Isn’t he implicitly committing the genetic fallacy here? Should we now view things only through the “Ezzat prism”? And what in the world does he mean by “western prism”? Does he really want us to judge him by this pseudo-intellectual drivel?
If an idea is true, then it is true. If an idea is wrong or false, then it is wrong or false. “Western prism” or “Eastern prism” for that matter is a really bad argument. For example, the word algebra was derived from Muhammad ibn Musa al-Khwarizmi’s magnum opus Al-jabr wa-al-Muqabilah, a work that was translated into Latin and was widely known all the way to the sixteenth century as a rigorous mathematical work in major European universities.
It was al-Khwarizmi who to a large extent separated algebra and geometry as two distinct but compatible fields of mathematics. It was because of al-Khwarizmi’s Al-jabr wa-al-Muqabilah that Europe was able to develop a field of algebraic mathematics that still carries his name.
The simple fact is that al-Kwharismi was from Persia, now known as Iran. Yet the Western world did not view his magnum opus through the “western prism” but through the depth of truth and rigor. Finally, if the “western prism” argument is really valid, why do we use Arabic numerals today instead of Roman numerals? We know that Arabic numerals, which are really Indian numerals, have conquered the world because they are much more efficient. To move the argument further, let us say that
“Paper, printing, and books are today essential aspects of Western civilization, but all three came out of China– and they have displaced parchment, scrolls, and other forms of preserving writings all around the world.”
Once again, this “western prism” argument is just plain bogus and Ezzat shouldn’t insult even children with that kind of stuff. I am also appalled that people who should know better have never pointed this out to him.
Even Philo-Semitic historians and Zionist writers such as Niall Ferguson would not take this “western prism” stuff. Ferguson himself credits the Muslim world for producing the first experimental scientist, Abu ‘Ali al-Hasan ibn al-Hasan ibn al-Haytham, who lived from around 965 till 1039. Mathematician and historian E. T. Bell writes,
“While Europe slept and all but forgot Greek mathematics, the Moslem scholars were industriously translating all they could recover of the works of the classic Greek mathematicians. Several of these translations became the first sources from which Christian Europe revived the mathematics it had all but let die. For this timely service to civilization, the Moslems no doubt deserve all the gratitude they have received.”
Yale historian Paul Kennedy acknowledged,
“For centuries before 1500, the world of Islam had been culturally and technologically ahead of Europe. Its cities were large, well-lit, and drained, and some of them possessed universities and libraries and stunningly beautiful mosques. In mathematics, cartography, medicine, and many other aspects of science and industry—in mills, gun casting, lighthouses, and horse breeding—the Muslims had enjoyed a lead.”
It is also true that much of the Muslim world contributed to early scientific development.
Put simply, no serious historian or scholar would put his credibility on the line by taking the view that historical pursuit should be viewed through a “western prism.” Historical pursuit should be viewed for what it is: scholarly inquiry, historical depth, intellectual rigor, and ultimately the search for the truth.
Ezzat continues to confirm that there is something deeper than scholarly pursuit here. Listen to this:
“My dear Mr. Alexis et al. all your ideas and beliefs about the Israelite stories and dogma are simply based on a clever act of forgery and deception. The real Israelites didn’t sound or taste or even smell like anything you have been told (indoctrinated) since your early infancy till this very moment.”
Yeah. That is how scholarly pursuits are conducted these days. I guess I have to give up and surrender to this new scholarship. I, Jonas E. Alexis, have been indoctrinated since early infancy till this very moment. Ezzat definitely knows my upbringing and has evidence to back it up. Once again, how does he want us to take him seriously while making ridiculous claims like that?
I, like many other people, did not become a Christian until later in life. Embracing Christianity for me was largely intellectual and had virtually little to do with emotion or feeling or indoctrination. If Ezzat wants to make a serious point, he needs to stay away from those elementary errors.
In my critique, I wrote that Ezzat provided no serious interaction with William Albright’s scholarly enterprise and deliberately dismissed his work with no sober thought. Instead of dealing with Albright’s massive scholarly enterprise,, Ezzat provided one source: Wikipedia. What am I supposed to do when someone does something like that? Take Wikipedia seriously and then Ezzat and then disregard the person who wrote numerous studies on the topics that Ezzat is complaining about.
Ezzat keeps asking this and that, but he doesn’t seem to know that many of his complaints have been thoroughly discussed and answered by numerous scholars. He wants to discuss the Septuagint, but what is really the use if he is not willing to discuss the scholarly literature on this? Will it really help when he starts dismissing scholars with no serious examination? For example, if you read James K. Hoffmeier’s Israel in Egypt, you will quickly realize that Ezzat is not postulating something new at all. His theory has been around for decades and scholars have dealt with them.
For a while, I thought that Ezzat wanted to humor his readers by summoning Wikipedia (at least those who do not have the time to check his sources). But Ezzat produces the same thing again in his new response:
“The father of the crooked Biblical finds by far is the American William F. Albright 1891 – 1971 (so-called founder of Biblical archeology) who began digging in Palestine with a mindset soaked with (geographically misinterpreted) Biblical stories. The fake find Albright (the evangelically brought up and Zionist-funded) contrived to make look authentic have earned him the notorious legacy of ‘being not right but Albright’ (a fact that has infuriated Mr. Alexis beyond measure).”
Again, how is that a scholarly refutation? If Ezzat cannot see that this is a circular argument, then there is nothing else to say here. He is welcome to dismiss whatever he does not like as “fake” or “fraud” without evidence, but he is not welcome to call it “scholarly.” If it is called “scholarly” where he lives, then fine. Far be it from me to spoil his treasure. Perhaps he is right: one has to leave the “western prism” behind and embrace this new historiographical approach.
Ezzat continues to stun us all by saying things like
“Alexis is brought up with a western mindset that doesn’t recognize Arabic scholarship/scholars as reliable sources or references- even when we’re dealing with genuinely Arabian history and tales).”
The West doesn’t recognize Arabic scholarship/scholars as reliable sources or references. Does he really want to insult people with this kind of drivel? Once again, why did the West have to embrace Arabic numerals? Does Ezzat know that one of my favorite philosophers is a Persian polymath by the name of Avicenna (Abū ʿAlī al-Ḥusayn ibn ʿAbd Allāh ibn Al-Hasan ibn Ali ibn Sīnā)? It was Avicenna who said that
“Anyone who denies the law of non-contradiction should be beaten and burned until he admits that to be beaten is not the same as not to be beaten, and to be burned is not the same as not to be burned.”
Ezzat’s argument is so wrong and irresponsible that it would be completely silly to spend too much time refuting it here.
If Ezzat cannot start taking things a little more seriously, then there is no need for us to continue this endless conversation. If he cannot respond in a serious manner, then he is welcome to say whatever he wants, such as the following:
“Our dear Mr. Alexis can’t swallow the fact that an Independent Egyptian researcher is not only challenging but entirely shattering two-thousand-year beliefs and dogma (his own beliefs and dogma).”
It was Carl Sagan himself who said that extraordinary claims demand extraordinary evidence. If Ezzat wants to make some point, he certainly has a lot of work to do. Dismissing people without sober thought and citing dubious sources will not do. No, I cannot swallow that. I have exhaustively cited all the documentation in my critique of Ezzat’s book.
What about the Israeli historians Ezzat mentions in his book as well as in his new article supporting his point?
Keep in mind that there are some good and decent people in Israel who do not like what the Israeli regime is doing to the Palestinians. Shlomo Sand comes to mind. Those people seem to think that the source of the conflict lies in the Old Testament, when in fact the issue is primarily Talmudic. This is why some of those good and decent historians seem to be willing to support virtually any claim so as to disprove the Zionist machination. Sand in particular has produced a rigorous and intellectually satisfying view in his book The Invention of the Jewish People, but he does have some minor issues that I would disagree with.
In any event, it could exegetically be argued that the Old Testament would disprove the “Khazarian Mafia” landing on Palestinian bodies in 1948 and beyond.
Ezzat declared that I am in “in a state of denial to relieve serious cognitive dissonance.”
Nothing could be further from the truth. I do not have time to respond to every single point that he raises. If he continues to provide no serious response, then that would be the end of our conversation. I’ve got other fish to fry.
This article was first published on June 1, 2015.
-  Infact, I have spent two chapters in Christianity & Rabbinic Judaism (Vol. I) discussing this very issue.
-  Thanks to a math teacher (Mr. Hitch) who taught me how to read a little faster than usual in high school, and thanks to Mortimer Adler’s book How to Read a Book, I have tried to keep up with the scholarly literature and current events.
-  By the way, why would he even bring up this “African mythology and theology” stuff here? Isn’t he implicitly positing the claim that Christianity is a “western” enterprise? Doesn’t he know that “The African presence has influenced the Catholic church in every period of its history?” [Cited in E. Michael Jones, Libido Dominandi: Sexual Liberation and Political Control (South Bend: Fidelity Press, 2000), 347-348.] Doesn’t he know that the Catholic Church in particular is not and can never be a “white” religion, which means that the Catholic Church could never join or support racist or racialist groups? Doesn’t Ezzat know that one of the first person to accept Christianity was an Ethiopian Eunuch?
-  For further studies on this, see for example Toby E. Huff, The Rise of Early Modern Science: Islam, China, and the West (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993); Phillip K. Hitti, The Arabs: A Short History (Washington, D.C.: Regnery, 1996); Carl B. Boyer, A History of Mathematics (New York: Wiley, 1968); B. L. van der Waerden, A History of Algebra: From al-Kwarismi to Emmy Noether (New York: Springer-Verlag, 1985); E. T. Bell, The Development of Mathematics (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1945); W. W. rouse Ball, A Short Account of the History of Mathematics (New York: Dover, 1960).
-  Niall Ferguson, Civilization: The West and the Rest (New York: Penguin, 2011), 51.
-  E. T. Bell, The Development of Mathematics (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1945), 104.
-  Paul Kennedy, The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers: Economic Changes and Military Conflict from 1500-2000 (New York: Random House, 1987), 51.
-  Ibid., 10.
-  William F. Albright, From Stone Age to Christianity (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1946); Archaeology: Historical Analogy and Early Biblical Tradition (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1966); New Horizons in Biblical Research (New York: Oxford University Press, 1966).
-  James K. Hoffmeier, Israel in Egypt: The Evidence for the Authenticity of the Exodus Tradition (New York: Oxford University Press, 1996).
-  See for example Jon McGinnis, Avicenna (New York: Oxford University Press, 2010).
-  For those who are interested in the connection between the East and the West, see for example Toby E. Huff, Intellectual Curiosity and the Scientific Revolution: A Global Perspective (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011); George Saliba, Islamic Science and the Making of the European Renaissance (Cambridge and London: The MIT Press, 2007); David C. Lindberg, The Beginnings of Western Science: The European Scientific Tradition in Philosophical, Religious, and Institutional Context, Pre-History to A.D. 1450 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2007).
-  For those who are still wondering how I have been able to write those articles, please understand that I spent at least five hours virtually everyday researching and writing.
-  I have briefly touched on this issue in Christianity & Rabbinic Judaism, Vol. I.
Jonas E. Alexis has degrees in mathematics and philosophy. He studied education at the graduate level. His main interests include U.S. foreign policy, the history of the Israel/Palestine conflict, and the history of ideas. He is the author of the book, Kevin MacDonald’s Metaphysical Failure: A Philosophical, Historical, and Moral Critique of Evolutionary Psychology, Sociobiology, and Identity Politics. He teaches mathematics in South Korea.