Unpublished Papers about an Unpublished Paper!
In Under Ancient Skies published in 2005 I made a passing acknowledgement to the paper by George F. Dodwell called The Truth of the Bible, which remained unpublished on his death in 1963. I cited it mainly to show that I was aware of its existence rather than in support of anything in particular. I have often wished I had never bothered – as it attracted so much correspondence from creationists and others.
My own research for Under Ancient Skies took place between 1998 and 2005. At that time some commentators had remarked that some of my theories in Atlantis of the West were not unlike Dodwell’s, so I tried to get a copy from the Australian library where it was held, resulting in my own unpublished paper of 2006. The Dodwell family were at that time refusing to allow quotation or copying of the manuscript. The trail of how I obtained a copy in 2003 is detailed in the linked pdf of my own unpublished paper. Suffice to say that the ultimate source was Barry Setterfield, who later put it on his own website in 2010 – with a plea from the family not to quote it out-of-context – some hopes of that!
My own unpublished paper, here frozen as written in 2006, was one of three that I tried to publish at that time to close-off my research when I (temporarily) gave-up authorship; it was rejected by an astronomical journal with a comment (I paraphrase from memory) that: “Dodwell’s paper was never published and was out-of-date”. Now I thought that was the very point that I was making in the paper, but there you go! To cut a long story short, the three papers were subsequently offered to SIS Journal in 2006 but they demanded editorial changes that would support Velikovsky; so I refused and withdrew them.
The unpublished 2006 review paper: Updating George F Dodwell is available here as a pdf download.
To summarise: while I may be critical of some academic refereeing standards, I can understand why Dodwell’s paper was rejected in 1959. Unfortunately, it was not sound then and even less so now. The hypothesis was reliant on just two critical ancient alignments that are no longer accepted; and on Newcombe’s formula that was only ever intended to be approximate and has since been superseded. Dodwell’s dating sources predate radiocarbon and tree-ring dating. Suffice to say that one cannot accept Dodwell’s conclusion that there was a drastic change of obliquity at 2345 BC (the Biblical Flood date) and yet at the same time accept the validity of the alignments at Stonehenge, Newgrange and various other Neolithic monuments. Dodwell was unaware of these in the pre-radiocarbon era of the 1950s.
I can also understand why the Dodwell family tried so hard to suppress access to the manuscript and yet it was this very lack of access that fueled speculation that: ‘a professional astronomer has proved the Biblical flood’ and suchlike chatter among religious fundamentalists and others who had never seen the actual paper. I wish that Barry Setterfield had not published the paper on the internet. Unfortunately, Setterfield’s neat presentation has made it look like a solid piece of modern research; and while it is online it will attract yet more gullible people to cite it as proof of something-or-other. The patchy photocopied typescript in my possession reveals it as what it was: an unpublished paper that was rejected as unsound in 1959 and should now be of historiographical interest only.