Neurosurgeon Ben Carson is quoted from a 1998 commencement speech as saying that his personal theory was that Joseph built the pyramids to store grain in during the seven years of plenty:

My own personal theory is that Joseph built the pyramids to store grain. Now all the archaeologists think that they were made for the pharaohs' graves. But, you know, it would have to be something awfully big if you stop and think about it. And I don’t think it’d just disappear over the course of time to store that much grain.

Are there any Christian groups who share this view? If so, on what do they base this hypothesis?

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    The existence of historical support isn't really on topic here. You can ask if this view is held by any Christian groups, and if there are what they support their views with. Nov 6, 2015 at 17:31
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    It is not a very likely hypothesis. The best estimates for the Hebrews' sojourn in Egypt place their stay there well after 2000 B.C., whereas the pyramids were built in the Old Kingdom, around 2500 B.C. See en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Exodus#Date and en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Egyptian_pyramids. In any case, the fact that they are tombs is well documented. Nov 6, 2015 at 17:42
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    Not much room inside them at any rate. Nov 6, 2015 at 19:03
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    If this were my question, I would probably focus on the Seventh Day Adventists, since this is the denomination Ben Carson belongs to.
    – Flimzy
    Nov 7, 2015 at 9:53

2 Answers 2


Here is a fascinating article about the history of the idea that the pyramids were grain stores.

There is no mention of pyramids in the Bible's version of the story but in the Middle Ages people started to write them into the story. "If you go to St Mark's cathedral in Venice, there's a medieval depiction showing people using the three great pyramids of Giza as granaries in Joseph's story," says John Darnell, a professor of Egyptology at Yale University. "If you didn't have access to the structures, the idea had some currency." The belief was also popularised by Saint Gregory of Tours, a sixth century Frankish bishop, who wrote: "They are wide at the base and narrow at the top in order that the wheat might be cast into them through a tiny opening, and these granaries are to be seen to the present day."

But Darnell says the idea began to fall out of favour during the Renaissance, when people made more detailed studies of the pyramids.

Egyptologist James Allen of Brown University [says] "There's no way in the world an ounce of grain would be stored in a structure like that. It would be totally impractical. It's like saying the Tower of London was built as a granary store."

For details of why the theory is now discounted, see Gordon Stranger's excellent answer.

There seems to be no hint that any modern Christian groups hold this view as a matter of doctrine.

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    Gaming geeks will recognize a nod to the theory from the early Civilization games, where building the Pyramids wonder counted as a Granery in every city, Nov 8, 2015 at 18:52

There may be the occasional Christian who who speculates that there is a link between the pyramids and Joseph's grain storage, but it's not part of any mainstream theology. Consider three problems:

  1. The dates don't match. The great pyramid of Egypt was built around 2560-2570 BC, and most other pyramids were earlier still, whereas the Genesis famine managed by Joseph was around 1870-1860 BC.
  2. The pyramid design was absolutely NOT for volumetric storage.
  3. As for belief, there are between 30,000 and 40,000 known Christian denominations, including some with 'curious' fringe beliefs, so it is impossible to be sure that there are no spurious beliefs about Joseph.

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