Exodus: History, myth, folktale, truth

Professor Charles R. Krahmalkov in the pages of Biblical Archaeology Review (BAR), wrote

“In Biblical studies truth is often only a matter of personal opinion, or a test of scholarly perceptions, or a momentary consensus.”

We would not so much agree with that. For us the Truth would be to cling to the literal word and the meaning of those words as it is explained in the bible.

Thousands historians have been looking for the Truth in the past. Their work is not finished yet. Still there are many things which are not covered yet and where man looks in the darkness. We should know we do not have to wait until everything is proven. There is the matter of faith, believing the unseen.

Throughout history man and women told to their children and to people around them what happened in the past. From those oral stories we have an idea what happened.

Instead of being written far too long after the supposed historical events to have any relationship to the truth, the book of Exodus could very well have been written quite reliably from oral history.

For more than 30 years, great Biblical scholars have taken to BAR to search for the truth of the story and explore its role as folktale and allegory.

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Each scholar advanced the analysis a few steps further, until at last Professor Manfred Bietak, lately of the University of Vienna and an eminent Egyptologist, posited that not only is the Exodus most likely a historic fact, but that it occurred later in time than previously thought.

That timeframe brings the Exodus story just inside the roughly 200-year generational span when historians agree that written history based on oral history can be reliably assumed to be true — from the new suggested date of the Exodus in the 12th century B.C.E. to the time of the written accounts of it in the 10th century B.C.E.

From myth to history

Certainly you can find in Biblical Archaeology Review an insistence that the Exodus story is not even remotely historical.

Wrote Professor Bernard F. Batto:

“The Exodus narrative should not be read as a historical account of what actually transpired in those days. Biblical writers were less interested in reporting historical data than in symbolizing for their contemporaries the salvational significance of their traditions.”

Professor Ziony Zevit, however, recognized “a historical kernel” that

“must underlie the Egyptian plague traditions preserved in the Bible”

when he theorized that the 10 plagues were indeed embellishments by later Israelites, but embellishments of natural occurrences that actually occurred in an Egyptian ecological setting.


Exodus: History, myth, folktale, truth

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