Sunday, April 05, 2015

Red Sea, Dead Sea -- it's all pretty much the same thing, no? (Or, a new version of the Passover story from Davy Brooks and the NYT)


The yellow ring on this Google Earth shows the location of a proposed canal that for some reason would link the Dead Sea to the Gulf of Aqaba, which is a gosh-for-real arm of the Red Sea, and which would sort of make the Dead Sea, you know, connected to the Red Sea. Still kind of off-track for the Exodus, though, if what you're trying to do is get out of Egypt.

by Ken

It's Sunday night, and it's late, and the first of the final new episodes of Mad Men has already started. So I say we confine ourselves to a single item from's Erik Wemple Blog, whose head is almost as long as the item:
Historic New York Times correction addresses mistake over parting of the 'Dead Sea'

By Erik Wemple

Like the very best corrections in journalism history, this one, appended to a column by David Brooks of the New York Times, needs no explanation, annotation or elaboration:
Correction: April 3, 2015

An earlier version of this column misidentified the sea that God parted in the Book of Exodus. It is the Red Sea, not the Dead Sea.
I don't want to rag too hard on Davy Brooks. [Sound of with-difficulty-suppressed guffaws.] 'Cause goodness knows, I've perpetrated my share of howlers. But say, doesn't the New York Times still employ editors? The place used to be crawling with 'em.

Just two points, for the record.

• For what it's worth, the Davy B column in question, a bold rehashing of the Exodus story, is called "On Conquering Fear." Sample:
The normal version of this episode is that God parts the Red Sea, the Israelites cross, the Egyptians are engulfed and then the Israelites sing in celebration. But the alternate version is that the Israelites are singing at the moment of crossing. They are not singing in celebration. They are singing in defiance of terror. . . .

Eventually, the Israelites are able to cope with fear. This makes them capable of loving and being loved. The image of fire plays a role in this transformation. At first, fire -- even in the burning bush -- is just scary. But eventually fire is semicontrolled as candlelight at the center of the meal, intimacy and home.
• A tiny technical matter: If you go to the link for the column (at least as of Sunday afternoon), what you'll see is slightly different from the version Erik W chronicles. It now reads:
Correction: April 4, 2015
David Brooks’s column on Friday misidentified the sea that God parted in the Book of Exodus. It is the Red Sea, not the Dead Sea.
At least we've got the correction right now, I hope. Note: no sea change, though.

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