Last modified on September 26, 2018, at 17:35

Immanuel Velikovsky

Immanuel Velikovsky (1895-1979) was a Russian-born American trained psychiatrist and writer,[1] who in the 1950s proposed a radical new interpretation of ancient history and the evolution of the solar system, based on mythological accounts, ancient traditions and histories, including the Bible and other religious and sacred texts.[2] His books were runaway best sellers and helped shape public perceptions of ancient history.

In particular, he hypothesised that the planet Venus was ejected from Jupiter around 1450 BC, and in a comet-like form, careered around the solar system disrupting the orbits of both Mars and Earth before settling into its present orbit.[3] The resulting cosmic catastrophes, he believed, were described in various ancient and biblical texts, including for example, the parting of the Red Sea and the Sun standing still. He described these ideas in his best-selling book, Worlds in Collision (1950)[4] To accompany his astronomical theories he devised a new chronology for Ancient Egypt, moving the end of the Middle Kingdom to 1450 BC and making it coincide with the Exodus. This he described in his book, Ages in Chaos (1952).[5]

Velikovsky's ideas were met with vigorous criticism, arguing that the science contradicted Velikovsky's findings, re-enforced by the conclusions of a 1974 conference by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, "Velikovsky's Challenge to Science".[6] Velikovsky and his supporters disagreed, and the resulting controversy became known as "The Velikovsky Affair", after a book of the same name.[7]

Religious Creationists looked at Velikovsky's ideas and rejected them as incompatible with the Bible. For example, Don DeYoung concluded in 2000 that:

"Velikovsky's ideas are a mixture of truth and error. His proposal of a recent Ice Age is shared with creationists, as are his challenges to "the doctrine of uniformity" (that rates of formation and erosion have always been constant). However, Velikovsky is hardly a friend of creationists or Christians in general since he fully accepted evolutionary theory. Velikovsky denied the Genesis flood and attempted to explain away the Old Testament miracles as natural catastrophes."[8]

A well-reviewed book on Velikovsky's impact on scientists and laymen is Beyond Velikovsky: The History of a Public Controversy (University of Illinois Press, 1999) by Henry H. Bauer.[9]


  1. Immanuel Velikovsky Papers, 1920-1996. At Princeton University
  2. "Immanuel Velikovsky" at The Velikovsky Encyclopedia
  3. "Worlds in Collision" at Wikipedia
  4. Velikovsky, Immanuel (1950). Worlds in Collision, Macmillan. ISBN 1-199-84874-3.
  5. Immanuel Velikovsky, Ages in Chaos, (1952) Doubleday
  6. Donald W. Goldsmith (Editor), Scientists Confront Velikovsky (1977), Cornell University Press, ISBN 0801409616, ISBN-13 978-0801409615.
  7. Alfred de Grazia, (Editor) The Velikovsky Affair, 1st ed. 1966, 2nd ed. 1978, with contributions by Ralph Juergens, Livio C. Stecchini, Alfred de Grazia and Immanuel Velikovsky. At the author's Website.
  8. Donald DeYoung, Astronomy and the Bible: Questions and Answers, (2nd ed 2000) p. 52
  9. Google books preview


By Velikovsky

  • Worlds in Collision (1950)
  • Ages in Chaos (1952)
  • Earth In Upheaval (1955)
  • Oedipus and Akhnaton (1960)
  • Peoples of the Sea (1977)
  • Rameses II and His Times (1978)
  • Mankind in Amnesia (1982)
  • Stargazers and Gravediggers (1983)

Other authors

Other resources