This volume is a continuation of Cleon Skousen’s earlier book, The First 2000 Years, and is meant to cover “those ten thundering centuries between 2000 and 1000 B.C.” The book contains an appendix containing a description of the Egyptian embalming process, the history and significance of the Urim and Thummim, and a digest of the Law of Moses. Mr. Skousen uses his legal training to advantage in discussing the Law of Moses. Unfortunately, he does not include a digest of the Law of Carnal Commandments which would have also helped students of the Doctrine and Covenants. (See D&C 84:27.) He gives his reasons for not including it, feeling that his book was already large. Bookmaking these days is expensive.
That Mr. Skousen was not writing for the benefit of the Bible scholar is quite apparent from a cursory examination of the book. His chronology is the high, traditional one, with the period of the Judges lasting over four hundred years. Moses comes on the scene about 1597 B.C. instead of 1300 B.C. as Albright and other scholars might suggest. Nor are there discussions of the technical problems inherent in the Exodus and the Conquest. As he says in the Preface, his purpose is “to capture the exciting historical reality of the life and times of those remarkable people. This is not a children’s story of the Bible but a synthesis of the vast historical fabric of that entire period as seen through the eyes of the men and women who lived it and the prophets of God who wrote about it.”
Mr. Skousen writes his book in the light of the modern revelation given to the Church. He draws freely on the information afforded us by the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants and The Pearl of Great Price. Nor does he miss Joseph Smith’s Revision of the Bible, the works of Josephus, or the Documentary History of the Church. Using these and other aids, he weaves the Bible accounts of the period treated into a fascinating, yes, entertaining, volume. For those who cannot find the Bible interesting reading firsthand, we recommend Mr. Skousen’s book. He tries hard to make the Bible understandable and meaningful to the Latter-day Saint.
Mr. Skousen’s book shows that a tremendous amount of labor has gone into its production and he is to be congratulated on having helped to supply a real need in popular Biblical literature.