Biblical Archaeology Review 38:2, March/April 2012

Strata: The Bible in the News: Plagued by the Press

By Leonard J. Greenspoon

To the uninitiated, it seems highly improbable that the ten plagues (from Exodus 7–12) would show up often and in varied contexts on the pages of major newspapers throughout the world. However, for the diligent reader of this column (is there any other kind?), it is no surprise at all that even so fearsome an event (or rather series of events) is infinitely malleable in the hands of newspaper writers worldwide.

Naturally, some of the stories are about nature, in this case nature at its most extreme. Thus, a rather chatty story from The Independent: “The British, it is said, love to talk about the weather,” but it’s “in America that people really talk about the weather. One reason is the national addiction to numbers: rainfall, snow amounts, temperatures, windspeeds and so on are paradise for statisticians ... Floods, tornados, hurricanes and drought—it’s like the ten Plagues of Egypt relocated to the south central United States.”

Attentive readers (I know you are out there) know that we can generally find some solace in the world of entertainment. Nonetheless it must have been especially galling to all of those involved in the film reverently (or irreverently) titled Evan Almighty, when they read reviews filled with comments like: “Avoid like the Ten Plagues,” “There are more jokes in the Book of Job than in the whole of this film,” and “A God-awful mess.”

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