AuthorTopic: Is the Exodus Historical Fact or Fiction?  (Read 3433 times)

Offline Ashvin

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Is the Exodus Historical Fact or Fiction?
« on: October 10, 2015, 04:14:16 PM »
One of the biggest mysteries of the ancient world is the question of whether the historical events recorded in the Bible actually happened. The stakes of this question are extremely high because today’s world is so connected to the Bible. In fact, the Bible may have been the greatest single influence to shape Western civilization. For more than 1500 years, the West accepted the truth of the biblical accounts. Presently, these accounts form the foundations of faith for hundreds of millions of Christians and Jews worldwide. If these events never happened, are those religions based on a gigantic lie?

Many of today’s tensions in the Middle East are connected to the Bible. The opposing camps in the culture wars can be defined, in large measure, by their views of what the Bible is - and what it means. When issues relating to biblical history come up, they automatically qualify as controversial - and the unveiling of new archaeological finds related to the Bible are met with an atmosphere of explosive apprehension.

The story of the Exodus has become particularly controversial. For more than 50 years, the vast majority of the world’s most prominent archaeologists and historians have maintained that there is no hard evidence to support the Exodus story. In October of 1999, the prominent Israeli archaeologist Ze’ev Herzog wrote in Ha’aretz Magazine, “This is what archaeologists have learned from their excavations in the Land of Israel: the Israelites were never in Egypt, did not wander in the desert, did not conquer the land in a military campaign and did not pass it on to the 12 tribes of Israel.”

The case against the Exodus appears to be so strong that even some religious leaders are labeling it as historical fiction. According to Rabbi David Wolpe, named the most influential rabbi in America by Newsweek Magazine, “The Exodus certainly didn’t happen the way the Bible depicted it, assuming that it was a historical event in any description.”

This is a dramatic shift from attitudes of just a century ago. In the Nineteenth and early Twentieth centuries, European pioneers of archaeology came to the Near East with a shovel in one hand and a Bible in the other. At first, their discoveries seemed to be very supportive of the Bible. However, over the years, new findings and more exacting practices determined that the dates for many of the finds were actually from periods outside the biblical timeframe. In their zeal to prove their faith, it appeared that the previous generation had jumped to their conclusions prematurely.

Is the Exodus just a myth, or is it possible that the archaeologists got it wrong?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nWrfc-KMU4U

(actual documentary is on Netflix for anyone who has it)

Offline g

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Re: Is the Exodus Historical Fact or Fiction?
« Reply #1 on: October 11, 2015, 05:39:46 AM »
Quote
Is the Exodus just a myth, or is it possible that the archaeologists got it wrong?

Would it matter that much, other than to exacting scholars and historians?

Wouldn't we hear the words, prophecy, parable, allegory, come to the forefront if proven to be a fictional piece?

People, after all this time past will believe pretty much what they wish to believe, and modify a story and it's source to their liking.

Sort of like The Battle Between Good and Evil. No where will it be found in the world of archaeology, but  you won't get me to believe that it doesn't exist.

Don't get me wrong, history and fact and fiction are certainly extremely important, but this line of endeavor might just start another round of intense bickering.

Discounting the entire Bible would be regarded as blasphemy by a large majority of the faithful.    :dontknow:

Offline Ashvin

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Re: Is the Exodus Historical Fact or Fiction?
« Reply #2 on: October 11, 2015, 08:22:23 AM »
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Is the Exodus just a myth, or is it possible that the archaeologists got it wrong?

Would it matter that much, other than to exacting scholars and historians?

The short answer to this question is, IMO, a resounding YES. Before getting to the theological issues, I'll explain why for purely historical reasons.

If the historical/archaeological dating of Egyptian history is incorrect (David Rohl posits it should be compressed by about 300 years), this affects the dating of sites and events in almost every surrounding culture, including those in modern day MENA, Greece and Rome. I'm not an expert by any means, but my understanding is that this is mostly the case because Egyptian inscriptions are found in so many of these other sites and are therefore used to date entire layers of artifacts. For ex, if an inscription of Ramses II is found in one of these sites, it is automatically dated to the late 2nd century BC, because that's the consensus date for when he reigned. According to experts such as Rohl, this date is WRONG and his reign was actually many centuries later.

So, as you can imagine, the implications for creating a new Egyptian chronology are massive for secular history. And when it comes to the Bible, the reason why the historians and archaeologists are not finding any evidence to corroborate the accounts of Genesis, Exodus, etc. are because they are looking at the completely wrong times (right places, wrong times). With Egyptian Chronology pushed forward a few hundred years in these crucial time periods, suddenly there is a massive evidence for the Biblical account.

Quote
Wouldn't we hear the words, prophecy, parable, allegory, come to the forefront if proven to be a fictional piece?

People, after all this time past will believe pretty much what they wish to believe, and modify a story and it's source to their liking.

Sort of like The Battle Between Good and Evil. No where will it be found in the world of archaeology, but  you won't get me to believe that it doesn't exist.

Don't get me wrong, history and fact and fiction are certainly extremely important, but this line of endeavor might just start another round of intense bickering.

Discounting the entire Bible would be regarded as blasphemy by a large majority of the faithful.    :dontknow:

This is basically the position of people like Rabbi Wolpe, who believe history has little to no effect on the truth or efficacy of Biblical faith (Jewish or Christian). I find this position to be absurd, as it in direct contradiction to what the Bible itself claims repeatedly from beginning to end.

Think about this, GO. All of the NT writers record Jesus as confirming the historical existence of OT people (such as Moses) and accuracy of OT events, and the Exodus is the MOST important event of all. The NT repeatedly references it when laying out Christian theology. It is the most striking example of God fulfilling his promises to miraculously deliver his people from slavery and into the promised land (of course, "slavery" and "promised land" here should be thought of as physical types and shadows of spiritual realities).

If this striking event never happened, and therefore God never made and/or fulfilled his promises (and the OT authors lied), why should we believe that God's promise of deliverance from slavery to sin through faith in Jesus' atonement, recorded by the NT authors, is any different? Why should we believe it has been or will ever be fulfilled?

As Paul says about the Resurrection, it's historical accuracy is paramount to the truth of falsity of our faith. So, theologically speaking, I really think the historical accuracy of the Exodus also makes all the difference in the world.
« Last Edit: October 11, 2015, 08:25:45 AM by Ashvin »

Offline Ashvin

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Re: Is the Exodus Historical Fact or Fiction?
« Reply #3 on: October 11, 2015, 08:41:06 AM »
For Grohl's reasoning behind the new chronology, check out this documentary on YouTube (new evidence has come out in support since this was made):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9j0NP178bz0&list=PLAqqGnFtLwP4uyUq92AMFvaoKJW7o-MUh

Offline Surly1

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Re: Is the Exodus Historical Fact or Fiction?
« Reply #4 on: October 11, 2015, 10:44:42 AM »
FWIW, I find this a particularly compelling argument.

OTOH, I am one who believes that much historical truth can be found in the myths and foundation stories of many cultures.
“The old world is dying, and the New World struggles to be born: now is the time of monsters.”

Offline Ashvin

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Re: Is the Exodus Historical Fact or Fiction?
« Reply #5 on: October 11, 2015, 03:23:27 PM »
FWIW, I find this a particularly compelling argument.

OTOH, I am one who believes that much historical truth can be found in the myths and foundation stories of many cultures.

I'm not sure about that qualifier "much". While many ancient pagan cultures share similar early myths and stories, their "histories" also contain many inaccuracies and clear revisions over time. This is not such a big deal for them since they never had any intentions of producing records which are ordered linearly and historically verifiable. (Egyptian dynasties being the notable exception)

The Israelites were different on this count. Hebrew authors made their intention clear from the get go - to produce linear historical accounts which are filled with verifiable details (and also to relate this history to a singular God's plan of redemption for humanity). Not just the broad stories and themes, but the actual details of names, places, minor contextual events, etc.

And of course they contain many prophecies which, depending on when you date the texts and the corresponding events, came true. That either indicates a very lucky set of authors or some kind of inspiration. This is was also a sticking point for the Hebrew authors, i.e. they did not tolerate "prophets" whose prophecies did not come true.
« Last Edit: October 11, 2015, 03:26:29 PM by Ashvin »

Offline g

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Re: Is the Exodus Historical Fact or Fiction?
« Reply #6 on: October 12, 2015, 05:37:49 AM »
Quote
If this striking event never happened, and therefore God never made and/or fulfilled his promises (and the OT authors lied), why should we believe that God's promise of deliverance from slavery to sin through faith in Jesus' atonement, recorded by the NT authors, is any different? Why should we believe it has been or will ever be fulfilled?

As Paul says about the Resurrection, it's historical accuracy is paramount to the truth of falsity of our faith. So, theologically speaking, I really think the historical accuracy of the Exodus also makes all the difference in the world.

Hi Ashvin, It is not possible for me to discuss these matters with one of your intensity, remarkable scholarship, and tireless research into such matters.

My highlighted portion of your quote is what my instant reaction to your first posting was on this matter. That no good can come of it. It will not be accepted as proof of anything by those so disposed. That it is of interest to an elite group of Biblical scholars, and will be presented as data that Christians are fools by others.

What is the point now? What is to be gained by taking apart the Bible and demanding proof as if it were a science problem?

Should the Bible be discarded and Ayn Rand's work and teachings become the new guide of how to live on earth and attain meaning and purpose in our existence. We rarely find the Rich wishing they were Poor.

Not being argumentative or diminishing the importance of the matter you bring up. Just trying to point out that it gives me a queasy feeling of challenging faith with archaeology, and that it will do little but confuse the faithful.

 

Offline Ashvin

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Re: Is the Exodus Historical Fact or Fiction?
« Reply #7 on: October 12, 2015, 04:37:57 PM »
Hi Ashvin, It is not possible for me to discuss these matters with one of your intensity, remarkable scholarship, and tireless research into such matters.

My highlighted portion of your quote is what my instant reaction to your first posting was on this matter. That no good can come of it. It will not be accepted as proof of anything by those so disposed. That it is of interest to an elite group of Biblical scholars, and will be presented as data that Christians are fools by others.

What is the point now? What is to be gained by taking apart the Bible and demanding proof as if it were a science problem?

Should the Bible be discarded and Ayn Rand's work and teachings become the new guide of how to live on earth and attain meaning and purpose in our existence. We rarely find the Rich wishing they were Poor.

Not being argumentative or diminishing the importance of the matter you bring up. Just trying to point out that it gives me a queasy feeling of challenging faith with archaeology, and that it will do little but confuse the faithful.

It's only a stumbling block if the Bible cannot stand the tests of history or archaeology. In which case, I say the skeptics are right about Christians being fools!

"But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied."

GO, I get queasy thinking about the number of people who turn away from the faith when they ask these questions and Christians respond, "it doesn't matter what actually happened, we have faith no matter what". Who can blame a person for turning away from believers so eager and willing to stick their heads in the sands?

Quote
That it is of interest to an elite group of Biblical scholars

What is? I thought I already explained why the new chronology is of interest to MANY more people than just Biblical scholars.

Quote
Not...diminishing the importance of the matter you bring up

Well, you had me fooled then  :icon_scratch:

Offline Eddie

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Re: Is the Exodus Historical Fact or Fiction?
« Reply #8 on: October 12, 2015, 06:27:55 PM »
It's only a stumbling block if the Bible cannot stand the tests of history or archaeology. In which case, I say the skeptics are right about Christians being fools!

So, let's assume the Bible is historically correct as to the timing and the legitimacy of the Exodus of the Israelites.

The Bible says Moses raised his staff and the waters were parted. It says they walked across on dry land. Didn't even get their feet wet.

Why is it you can believe that, even though you've never ever seen someone raise a staff and part as much as a mud puddle, and you never will?

You appear to be willing to suspend your disbelief in some areas, but not others. Forgive me if there is something simple here I'm missing.
What makes the desert beautiful is that somewhere it hides a well.

Offline g

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Re: Is the Exodus Historical Fact or Fiction?
« Reply #9 on: October 12, 2015, 10:12:07 PM »
Hi Ashvin, It is not possible for me to discuss these matters with one of your intensity, remarkable scholarship, and tireless research into such matters.

My highlighted portion of your quote is what my instant reaction to your first posting was on this matter. That no good can come of it. It will not be accepted as proof of anything by those so disposed. That it is of interest to an elite group of Biblical scholars, and will be presented as data that Christians are fools by others.

What is the point now? What is to be gained by taking apart the Bible and demanding proof as if it were a science problem?

Should the Bible be discarded and Ayn Rand's work and teachings become the new guide of how to live on earth and attain meaning and purpose in our existence. We rarely find the Rich wishing they were Poor.

Not being argumentative or diminishing the importance of the matter you bring up. Just trying to point out that it gives me a queasy feeling of challenging faith with archaeology, and that it will do little but confuse the faithful.

It's only a stumbling block if the Bible cannot stand the tests of history or archaeology. In which case, I say the skeptics are right about Christians being fools!

"But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied."

GO, I get queasy thinking about the number of people who turn away from the faith when they ask these questions and Christians respond, "it doesn't matter what actually happened, we have faith no matter what". Who can blame a person for turning away from believers so eager and willing to stick their heads in the sands?

Quote
That it is of interest to an elite group of Biblical scholars

What is? I thought I already explained why the new chronology is of interest to MANY more people than just Biblical scholars.

Quote
Not...diminishing the importance of the matter you bring up

Well, you had me fooled then  :icon_scratch:

Would have thought Ashvin, that at this point in time you would have decided if you were a Christian and believed in the faith or not.

If you find now that a TV show has shaken your faith and you need an archaeological find to confirm your faith, that's just fine.

I would have thought that your scholarly and remarkable portrayal in the past of the story of Noah's Ark, quite possibly being true, and not a parable, was testament of your intense study and belief in the faith.

If you wish and demand more proof of every Biblical account to believe in Christ and his Resurrection, then I wish you good luck; hopefully you won't abandon your beliefs in Christianity and it's principles until the excavators find what you are looking for.

My thoughts remain the same on the matter, and while you have escaped my understanding with this issue all of a sudden and this new revelation you have come upon, the Bible tells us that Jesus will certainly understand.


                                           
 
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Offline Ashvin

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Re: Is the Exodus Historical Fact or Fiction?
« Reply #10 on: October 13, 2015, 05:52:40 AM »
It's only a stumbling block if the Bible cannot stand the tests of history or archaeology. In which case, I say the skeptics are right about Christians being fools!

So, let's assume the Bible is historically correct as to the timing and the legitimacy of the Exodus of the Israelites.

The Bible says Moses raised his staff and the waters were parted. It says they walked across on dry land. Didn't even get their feet wet.

Why is it you can believe that, even though you've never ever seen someone raise a staff and part as much as a mud puddle, and you never will?

You appear to be willing to suspend your disbelief in some areas, but not others. Forgive me if there is something simple here I'm missing.

Here's the thing - if the Bible is historically accurate about the details of the Exodus account (from Jospeh to Joshua), we have to ask the following questions:

How did Moses get all of these details right a few hundred years after the fact? (i.e. Joseph entering Egypt, followed by his father Jacob and his 11 brothers, and then the Hebrews multiplying greatly and then getting enslaved)

How did Moses possibly manage to defy the Egyptian Pharaoh and his great army, freeing the Hebrews?

If Moses did in fact lead the enslaved Hebrews to freedom through the wilderness for 40 years and to the promised land, through events involving plagues (this is supported by an independent historical account) and the total collapse of the Egyptian state, then why would he embellish and possibly discredit this already amazing history of the Hebrew people by including false miracles (such as parting the Red Sea)?

If God was not involved and Moses et al. simply freed themselves and established Israel in this most amazing way, why would Moses et al. then deny their own involvement and attribute it ALL to God and his miracles? Why would they make themselves look so bad when they longed to return to Egypt or were afraid to take the promised land?

I think there are probably a dozen more questions of that sort that we are forced to answer. And, if we don't take the accounts at face value and accept the supernatural, I guarantee the answers will seem quite ridiculous.

Quote
Why is it you can believe that, even though you've never ever seen someone raise a staff and part as much as a mud puddle, and you never will?

There are plenty of things I have nor will ever see which I still believe can possibly exist/happen or have already existed/happened or are still existing/happening.  I'm sure you can think of a bunch of examples as well.

The whole point of a miracle from God is that it is extremely RARE and something most people will never witness. That's why we know it is from God and not just random coincidence.

Offline Ashvin

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Re: Is the Exodus Historical Fact or Fiction?
« Reply #11 on: October 13, 2015, 06:01:28 AM »
Would have thought Ashvin, that at this point in time you would have decided if you were a Christian and believed in the faith or not.

If you find now that a TV show has shaken your faith and you need an archaeological find to confirm your faith, that's just fine.

I would have thought that your scholarly and remarkable portrayal in the past of the story of Noah's Ark, quite possibly being true, and not a parable, was testament of your intense study and belief in the faith.

If you wish and demand more proof of every Biblical account to believe in Christ and his Resurrection, then I wish you good luck; hopefully you won't abandon your beliefs in Christianity and it's principles until the excavators find what you are looking for.

I already have more than enough evidence to convince me my faith is warranted. The recent books and documentaries on the Exodus do not "shake" my faith, but only bolster it.

I don't believe Christians must prove the truth of every historical account in the Bible before our faith is warranted. But I DO believe that, if our faith is warranted, we should expect that these accounts will be proved to be more accurate and true over time.

We must also remain open-minded and admit the possibility that we have placed our faith in the wrong place. So far, no one has been able to establish that this is anything other than a slight possibility. In fact, ALL the new evidence and analysis in history and science seem to suggest the opposite - our faith in the Bible and its revelation of God is more warranted now than it has ever been.

 

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