Mistranslated Myths of Nomadic Desert Shepherd Tribe Taken at Face
PITTSBURGH, PA--Arcane, poorly translated scrolls etched by an
unknown hand thousands of years ago were taken at face value Monday,
when Pittsburgh orthodontist Donald Reuss consulted an English
translation of a Hebraic manuscript titled "Deuteronomy" for guidance
in a personal crisis.
"I was at my wits' end over what to do about my failing marriage,"
Reuss said. "Marjorie and I thought about counseling, therapy, even
divorce. In the end, though, I got the help I needed from a book of
stories inscribed by an itinerant Middle Eastern shepherd many
Reuss said he learned of the antediluvian text from a friend following
an argument with his wife. "Bob said he had a book that I should read,"
Reuss said. "I figured it would be some sort of self-help book written
by one of those professional therapists born in the latter half of the
20th century. But to my surprise, it was a contemporary printing of a
historical and genealogical account of the growth and persecution of
the Jewish people, originally written in ancient Hebrew. And you know
what? Not only were the tales relevant to my situation, they're
Deuteronomy, like the four other books with which it is often
collected, is believed to have originated from the oral folklore of
nomadic Jews who wandered the deserts of the Middle East. The stories
that emerged from this oral tradition were handed down through
subsequent generations and ultimately written down in now-dead tongues.
In the modern era, the books have proven to be of great interest both
to historians specializing in ancient Middle Eastern tribal cultures
and to people with problems.
Reuss is not the only troubled American to consult an ancient Nile
Valley manuscript in recent years. In April 1998, Wayzata, MN,
homemaker Brenda Smolensk credited "Exodus" with guiding her through a
period of severe depression.
"I was deeply confused about my place in the world," Smolensk said. "I
needed to know what life was all about, what I was put on Earth for.
Luckily, that exact matter had been discussed in Exodus by a roving
scribe some 4,000 years ago."
"At first, I was skeptical about what relevance these ancient writings
could possibly have to my situation," Smolensk continued. "But they
actually deal with all kinds of germane topics, from what meats one
should not eat due to mankind's lack of refrigeration technology to the
pre-Iron Age accounts of territorial disputes affecting a certain area
of the Fertile Crescent."
"We are pleased that so many have found comfort and guidance in God's
word," said Peter Wanamaker, president and founder of In His Name
Books, a publishing house specializing in archaic texts of the sort
which aided Reuss and Smolensk. "The problems that plague modern man
have not changed, and neither have the solutions."