The Last Ember – Spherical Earth

It was a slow start on The Last Ember, probably the result of lack of familiarity with the genre. I’ve never read the DaVinci code, and while I have attempted Clancy and others under stern urgings from friends, I haven’t made it through them, so I’m something of a spy(?) story novice. I think that’s the genre. However, after back-tracking and highlighting all the names as they are introduced, I’m very much enjoying Daniel Levin’s DaVinci Code-style book on the historian Josephus.

The idea behind the story is that Josephus was actually a very successful double agent responsible for a serious pro-Judaism mistake of the Roman Emperor Titus. The famous arch depiction of the menorah bears witness to this error since the menorah should have been larger than human and not curved. Berenice, who mysteriously disappears from the historical record, is also involved in the spy game.

Despite my positive feelings about the book, today’s comment on The Last Ember is born of aggravation. I can’t tell whether something more is implied or whether Levin is just wrong. If he’s just wrong, I don’t understand how he acquired such a great classical background, but missed this. If he is not wrong, then he is deliberately suppressing information. I’m hoping there is another option. Maybe there’s something else going on that I’m missing. Here’s the passage:

“It says ‘orbis terrarum,’ which means a round earth. That means this inscription couldn’t have been written in the first century. The ancient scientific consensus was that the world was flat.”

An exception is made in the next sentence for the scholars of Jerusalem, but what about Greco-Roman sphericists from Aristotle to Ptolemy?

Daniel Levin images courtesy of Arch of Titus public domain image courtesy of Wikipedia.



  1. Hi there!

    Publicist just passed along your sharp exegesis. Thanks for reading! Yes, Aristotle and Ptolemy, both spherists. But safe to say, consensus in their communities was for a flat Earth. What's interesting about Jerusalem is that pauper and priest alike thought the Earth was round, and that common a view for the day was worth mentioning. Anyway, hope the book kept you thrilled as much as thinking!

    Take care, Danny

    Daniel Levin


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