Dating the biblical exodus

(Ethan Thomas) #1

Hello Connect family!

Last night I watched a very interesting film called Patterns of Evidence: Exodus. In it, a filmmaker seeks to uncover archaeological evidence for the Exodus as described in the Old Testament. Leading off, he confronts the prevailing opinion that the exodus is generally accepted to have occurred during the reign of the Pharaoh Ramesses II. However, every archaeological find dated to that period of time has been unable to validate any claim made in the Bible. This includes things such as records of a historical Egyptian governor known as Joseph, evidence of a settlement of Semantic peoples in the vicinity of Egypt, or most importantly records of any kind of calamities or disasters that would fit the narrative of Moses’ plagues.

However, the film later goes on to explore the theory that this is all because historians and scholars simply got the dates wrong. The filmmaker interviews several scholars who hold to the belief that everything we read about in the Bible actually took place several hundreds of years PRIOR to the time-frame that we have traditionally placed them within. This period of time is known as the times of the Middle Kingdom of Egypt, and the evidence shown for supporting this claim includes finds such as an excavated city showing strong signs of Semantic occupation and customs, an Egyptian papyrus composed of the names of slaves almost all of which are Hebrew-derived, and most compelling of all a lavish government tomb with the remains of a monument that depicts an obvious “Un-Egyptian” man with light skin and red hair.

Does anyone have any experience studying this? And if so, what are your thoughts?

(SeanO) #2

I saw the movie about a year ago and enjoyed it. In terms of what to make of it, I’m not sure. I liked the following article from the Gospel Coalition in which the author said: " As a layman, though, I’m hesitant to take a firm stand based on watching a single documentary. I know the events of Exodus are historical and trust that we’ll eventually become scientifically advanced enough to confirm that fact; I just don’t think we’re there yet." I resonate with that feeling, though I am not sure I am quite as optimistic that science will be enough to recover the events of the ancient past if actual remains are lacking. As N. T. Wright notes about documents from ancient times, they can all fit on one or two shelves if you only have the originals and no commentaries - so ancient history is difficult to get at because things decay and are destroyed.

Cross Examined has some articles on it. I think he makes some valid points and his articles are worth a read. But I think Joe Carter hit the mark a little nearer for me - there is still a lot of uncertainty in this area of research in my own opinion due to the nature of the evidence / lack thereof.

What were your first thoughts after watching it?