The Plague’s the Thing
(Wherein We’ll Catch the Conscience of the Pharaoh)
Is there a natural explanation for the Ten Plagues? Dr. John Marr, former chief epidemiologist for New York City, and Curtis Malloy, a medical researcher, think there is. Their theory was recently the focus of the British television program Equinox.
The Book of Exodus (chapters 7–12) describes in vivid detail the series of disasters visited by God upon the Egyptians for Pharaoh’s continued refusal to “let my people go.” The plagues began with the Nile turning to blood and culminated in the death of the firstborn.
Marr and Malloy offer what may be the most sophisticated version yet of the “naturalistic interpretation” of the plagues. Bible scholar Ziony Zevit (“Three Ways to Look at the Ten Plagues,” BR 06:03) writes that such interpretations attempt to explain the plagues in terms of natural phenomena—diseases and natural catastrophes that combined to devastate the Egyptians.