This is absolutely unbelievable. There’s a new paper in Neurological Science, by three neurological scientists, analyzing the age-old question of whether Moses stuttered! The abstract says it all:
Abstract Stuttering is a disturbance of normal fluency of speech whose pathophysiology is still not well understood. We investigated one of the most ancient speech disorders in the biblical person Moses who lived in approximately 1300 BC. To get the most complete medical and nonmedical information on Moses, we did systematic searches in the Holy Bible using the Bible-Discovery v2.3 software (http://www.bible-discovery.com) looking for verses containing the terms “Moses”, “Stuttering” and “Stutter”; and in PubMed/Medline database for manuscripts having the terms “Moses”, “Bible” and “Stuttering”. From the Bible search, 742 verses were found, of which 23 were relevant; three additional verses were found by hand search. Six papers discussing Moses’s pathology were found in the PubMed search. The analysis of ancient descriptions in the light of current research suggests that stuttering is the most likely pathology Moses had, with clear evidence for both genetic origin and environmental triggers. Further, it was found that Moses practiced some “sensory tricks” that could be used to relieve his speech disorder which are, to our knowledge, the first “tricks” that successfully modulated a movement disorder described in the medical literature.
The case of Moses is presented as if he’s a medical patient. Are the authors aware of the humor in this?
Patient and methods
The patient was Moses ( מרשת o´ משת ), which means “saved from the waters”. According to Exodus 6:20, Amram married his aunt Jochebed, who gave birth to Moses. When he was born, Pharaoh ordered to kill every boy who had a Jewish mother (Exodus 1:15–22).
Here’s some of the evidence that Moses stuttered:
The biblical descriptions commenting on the speech disorder of Moses suggested that it started at an early age. In fact, when Moses refused to speak out in Exodus 4:10 he said “neither before, nor since you have spoken to your servant”. This statement supports the view that Moses had developmental stuttering, the onset of which is between 3 and 8 years . Interestingly, 26% of children with such disorder recover before puberty, while it persists more in boys [34, 45]. Several associated signs and symptoms present in clinically established stuttering are found in Moses’s descriptions including fear declared in Exodus 6:30 when he talked to the Pharaoh, the presence of a spokesman described in Exodus 4:13–16, and negation, hesitation and avoidance secondary to God’s orders described in Exodus 4:10 and 6:12.
A genetic abnormality, as the one attributed to Moses, associated with environmental stressors including new home, social pressure and/or negative experiences at early ages would favor the persistence of the speech disorder in his adult age .
And what “tricks” did the patriarch use? It really pains me to have to reproduce this for you:
At this point, it must be remarked that Moses used at least two “sensory trick” strategies that would help to modulate his speech motor program abnormalities. The first “trick” was the “rod of God” prescribed by God himself and emphasized in several passages of the Bible including Exodus 4:17 and Numbers 20:9. The second “trick” used by Moses was singing, a method used for enhancing speech fluency in stutterers [36, 60]. It should be remarked that the first time that the verb “sing” is conjugated in the Bible is in Exodus 15:1 when Moses sang. After this, Deuteronomy 31:30 and 32:44 stated that Moses sang a song in front of the crowd, without any language abnormality. Moreover, Psalm 91, one of the most famous songs of the Bible, was authored by Moses.
From all of the above, it is rational to propose that both the use of the rod and singing were not only instruments for performing divine signals and guide Jewish people, but also were actual “therapies” that helped in modulating the desynchronized sensory and motor programming of Moses, improving his speech fluency. Accordingly, such “sensory tricks” would be the first neurorehabilitation measures described to date in medical literature [61, 62], employed to modulate a movement disorder.
Okay, this is shameful and embarrassing, both for the three authors and the scientific community at large. It is not, I emphasize, an April Fool’s joke. It is three scientists investigating a dubious disorder in a fictional person. Regardless of the arguments about the historical Jesus, there’s not a scintilla of evidence that Moses existed, much less that the events of the Exodus occurred (they didn’t—the evidence is against them). So why is this in a scientific journal? Should we expect the Journal of Herpetology to speculate about what kind of reptile talked to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden? Can we expect a paper in the Journal of Gerontology about the remarkable longevity of Methuselah? What herbs did he eat that allowed him to attain the age of 969? What these three deeply misguided authors have done is, in fact, produce a form of literary criticism masquerading as science.
Maybe someday these dudes will learn that you have to look for evidence beyond the Bible if you’re trying to justify something in the Bible as a historical fact. They could start with trying to figure out whether Moses really existed. They didn’t; they just just assume he did.
What a bunch of morons. And this, by the way, isn’t the only paper on Moses’s stuttering in the scientific literature. There are at least five others.
Leon-Sarmiento, F. E., E. Paez, and M. Hallett. 2012. Nature and nurture in stuttering: a systematic review of the case of Moses. Neurological Science DOI 10.1007/s10072-012-0984-2