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Passover Saga, Myth or History – 21st Century Verification of Bible, UCLA Study Group

The summons from Professor Barrett – for that is what it amounted to – was cursory, emailed the day after their customary third-Thursday sessions:

“Dear Students and Co-Investigators, Yesterday evening – absent our normal session – was a “bummer” for me – I missed our get-together. Also, I now feel we haven’t properly finished off our year-long project, so: next month – third Thursday – 7 p.m. – my home – everyone please bring a bottle of champagne – look sharp (I’ll be wearing my red bow-tie, short-sleeved shirt, creased pants and moccasins), also be mentally sharp: session subject; ‘Biblical Exodus, 21st Century 먹튀검증,’ Let’s really nail it down. No excuses short of a heart attack. Prof. Barrett.”

As Avi would later tell it, on reading the email, Bethe got that “look” on her face, grinned at him and grabbed the phone. The professor wasn’t in, so she rapid-fired into the message machine: “Professor, remember my comment at the end of the final session? I’ll have a surprise for you. Please have your secretary copy all the power point summaries of our sessions – will pick them up at 3 p.m. today.”

Professor Barrett, on hearing her message, guffawed out loud, quickly called Bethe’s number. Her answering machine responded: “Bethe, I’m guessing what you’re up to. Great idea! Looking forward to it. Don’t tell others – great surprise for them. Thought you were into arcane mathematics – not fiction. You and Avi have fun. Barrett.”

On the Tuesday before the now-final session, Professor Barrett, Bethe and Avi had dinner (at a kosher restaurant) going over their plans. Bethe gave the professor a sheaf of papers which he quickly skimmed, the smile on his face broadening as he read the first paragraph. He clapped the two young people on the shoulders, “Wonderful – I’ll read the rest later. This is just fabulous. Congratulations. Now, let’s order and eat, then we’ll plan the session.”

After the meal, as they parted, the professor said, “OK Bethe, you’ll start it. Work with my secretary, make seven hand-out copies to distribute to the others, chapter by chapter – no reading ahead for them. After each chapter, I’ll take over. I want some real, solid judgment-estimates from all of us as to how much of the biblical narrative we’ve validated. Great idea and job, this – I’m proud of you two, every one will love it. Come an hour early.”