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Old 04-14-2001, 07:31 AM   #1
Bill
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Cool A New Consensus: Exodus Is Myth

The March II Book-of-the-Month was The Bible Unearthed. Now, a Jewish rabbi in Los Angeles has caused a controversy by embracing the idea of the Exodus as myth. In a long article in the Los Angeles Times, the broad consensus of modern scholarship is reviewed against the background of Bible literalists (both Jewish and Christian) who refuse to accept that the best view of the facts is that the Bible is largely a written myth with a few sprinkled in cultural memories and kernels of truth (which has been shown to be true of many myths).

Oswald Spengler found similar myths to be a required element for the founding of a substantial distinct Culture. For every Culture has its own religion, and it is the myth of that religion which motivates the people of the Culture to achieve whatever greatness lies within their abilities.

For the Jews, the story of Exodus has a strong symbolic meaning for who they are as a people. Here is a quote from the LA Times article:
Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">But most congregants, along with secular Jews and several rabbis interviewed, said that whether the Exodus is historically true or not is almost beside the point. The power of the sweeping epic lies in its profound and timeless message about freedom, they say.

The story of liberation from bondage into a promised land has inspired the haunting spirituals of African American slaves, the emancipation and civil rights movements, Latin America's liberation theology, peasant revolts in Germany, nationalist struggles in South Africa, the American Revolution, even Leninist politics, according to Michael Walzer in the book "Exodus and Revolution."
</font>
The contents of the individual myths will vary, but the inspiration to achieve greatness does not.

My point is that, in spite of its being rendered untrue in a quite literal sense, the story of the Exodus is still a powerful motivation to those humans who take it to heart. Perhaps humanity does need such myths in order to achieve greatness. But most certainly, we should never lose sight of what the real truth is. The Jews have their own commandment in this regard, which is also mentioned in the LA Times article:
Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Wolpe, Sinai Temple's senior rabbi, said he decided to deliver the sermon to lead his congregation into a deeper understanding of their faith. On Sunday, he told his flock that questioning the Jewish people's founding story could be justified for one reason alone: to honor the ancient rabbinical declaration that "You do not serve God if you do not seek truth." </font>
Truth, justice, and freedom are all powerful concepts which need to be honored. It should not pass notice that even many Christians adhere to the doctrine of not sacrificing truth on the altar of one thing or another (such as expediency, popularity or comfort). Of course, the danger becomes manifest when Christian truth (the dogma that Christians believe) is given greater weight than real truth, which emerges only through careful and continuing scientific investigation. For that reason, I give you my own slightly altered version of the Christian commandment about truth:
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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Never, ever, sacrifice REAL Truth on the altar of expediency, popularity or comfort. </font>
That should certainly be true if the "comfort" in question is a belief in the literal truth of the Bible.

== Bill
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Old 04-14-2001, 08:15 AM   #2
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Must emphatically agree! I've heard many Rabbis condemn those who search the ruins of Israel to hope to prove Bible history fact, they are missing the point entirely! 'The Bible (like Mulder on X files says) is not the truth, it's a metaphor for the Truth' Faith is what religion is supposed to be about, not make believe history (not that I'm a great one on faith per se, but that is the point.)
A perfect example is 'God' not giving the exact location of Mt. Sinai, he knew people would worship the mountain, or the ark, or whatever, just like Christians want to worship the Shroud of Turin & not God, it's what drove God nuts throughout history, Idolatry!
 
Old 04-16-2001, 01:24 PM   #3
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I read the Los Angeles Times article from Friday April 13, Bill. I kept it too.
With respect to history, to physics, the Exodus from the Bible is baloney in facts. Like Genesis, I bet.
With respect to moral teachings, the Exodus from the Bible is a fable with some positives.
 
Old 04-19-2001, 03:30 PM   #4
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Oh dear, because one radical rabbi has declared that the exodus didn't happen it's all over the newspapers. For a group of critical thinking people, you seem to swallow newspaper stories surprisingly whole.

While I would certainly agree that there is much to be gained from the Exodus story whether or not it is a myth, I would not be so quick to agree that it is one.

The whole trouble is the fall of the Albright 'Conquest Model'. (This was the theory that the Israelites left Egypt in the mid 13th century BC under the reign of Rammesses (sp?) the second.) This has been significantly disproven by archeological discoveries in the last 20 or so years and a majority of scholars do agree now that the theory is wrong.

Some therefore have concluded that there was no exodus whatsoever. But "The truth is that virtually every modern archeologist who has investigated the story of the Exodus, with very few exceptions, agrees that the way the Bible describes the Exodus is not the way it happened, if it happened at all" as the article quotes the Jewish Rabbi is not far from outrightly wrong.

The alturnative theory which has long been sitting in the background overshadowed by the Conquest Model and has now become a distinct possibility with the fall of the other is a 15th Century exodus under Thotmois (sp?) the third. This theory seems to fit right in with currently known archeological evidence.
 
Old 04-19-2001, 04:31 PM   #5
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"Thotmois (sp?) the third. This theory seems to fit right in with currently known archeological evidence."

Yes, but for an Exodus? Thotmosis I believe is famous for ushering in the golden age of Egypt by driving OUT the foreign rulers (Hyksoks) and returning Egypt to Egyptian rule. (the Hyksoks ruled Egypt for several hundred years, they were Canaanites, get it)
Just saw the 'Who was Moses' show on the History Channel, they tried very hard to make a case for the Biblical Exodus but the dates were all over the place. Ramses II & the City he built 1200 BC, ruins of pillars near the suspected Mt. Sinai 2000 BC, plagues in Egypt 1580 BC, Egypt with horses & chariots 11 to 1200 BC. To make matters worse there were 20 Pharaohs who took the name Ramses.
My thoughts, for those who care, yes there were people who once lived in Egypt whose descendents came to be known as Jews, they had tribal lore of all these events over a 500 year or so period & made them into a cool story when they began to solidify their religious beliefs in Solomon's time.
 
Old 04-19-2001, 05:04 PM   #6
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Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by marduck:
'The Bible is not the truth, it's a metaphor for the Truth'
</font>
Uh, just what Truth is the Exodus story a "metaphor" for?

As I understand it, according to the story God visited a whole string of nasty plagues on thousands (probably millions) of innocent Egyptians, culminating in the killing of all of the non-Hebrew firstborns. In the meantime he hardened Pharaoh's heart so that he would not let the Hebrews go until He had fully demonstrated His power by inflicting misery on as many victims as possible.

All of this was ostensibly done to free the Hebrews from bondage, which He could have done in a trice without lifting a finger or hurting a soul (and certainly without killing untold innocent babies).

And, course, He didn't get around to doing any of this until the Hebrews had been in bondage in Egypt for around 400 years.

Afterwards, He made them wander around in the desert for 40 years, killing lots more innocent people when a few complained about the steady diet of manna.

Finally, He gave them the go-ahead to kill and drive out everyone living on a large chunk of teritory, explaining that it was "their" land because He was "giving" it to them. The current inhabitants, who probably foolishly supposed that it was their land, were not consulted, nor were they informed about the "new deal". God helped the Hebrews annihilate the inhabitants of any cities who refused to leave quietly without a fight. (That's all of the inhabitants, including, once again, untold innocent children.)

So this story is a metaphor for what exactly? This story is supposed to inspire and uplift us? Why?

 
Old 04-19-2001, 07:59 PM   #7
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Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by marduck:
Yes, but for an Exodus? Thotmosis I believe is famous for ushering in the golden age of Egypt by driving OUT the foreign rulers (Hyksoks) and returning Egypt to Egyptian rule. (the Hyksoks ruled Egypt for several hundred years, they were Canaanites, get it)</font>
Yes, the Hyksoks were driven out of Egypt... what's the point? Nobody that I'm aware of believes the Hyksoks to be the Israelites. Anyway it is Thotmosis III that is of interest.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Just saw the 'Who was Moses' show on the History Channel, they tried very hard to make a case for the Biblical Exodus but the dates were all over the place. Ramses II & the City he built 1200 BC, ruins of pillars near the suspected Mt. Sinai 2000 BC</font>
1200 BC? That sounds a bit late, wasn't it 1250ish? But Ramses is only relevant to the Conquest Model which isn't in dispute.
Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">plagues in Egypt 1580 BC</font>
Plagues in Egypt 1580 BC? What evendence did they give for this?

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> Egypt with horses & chariots 11 to 1200 BC. To make matters worse there were 20 Pharaohs who took the name Ramses.</font>
The horses and chariots is new on me. Never seen that mentioned as a problem before, which makes me suspicious of this programme. Again, what does Ramses matter?
 
Old 04-19-2001, 10:32 PM   #8
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Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Bill:
The March II Book-of-the-Month was The Bible Unearthed. Now, a Jewish rabbi in Los Angeles has caused a controversy by embracing the idea of the Exodus as myth. In a long article in the Los Angeles Times, the broad consensus of modern scholarship is reviewed against the background of Bible literalists (both Jewish and Christian) who refuse to accept that the best view of the facts is that the Bible is largely a written myth with a few sprinkled in cultural memories and kernels of truth (which has been shown to be true of many myths).

</font>
So what? I agree that aspects of the OT are mythologoical. That doesn't mean its "untrue." It's still turth, just because it's not literal history doesn't mean it's not truth.
 
Old 04-20-2001, 12:54 AM   #9
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Hello Bill

Were you taught to read the Bible like a series of newspaper articles?

I was taught that there are at least a dozen literary styles, but the inclusion of legendary matter by no means invalidates the inclusion of factual matter, or strands of fact upon which legend has been built.

The flood may well be such an example.

It is a different matter where teachings are involved that have survived for 2000 years.

A reasonable supposition is that all surviving religions contain substantial elements of beneficial truth.

Could it be that those who reject truth in religion would reject it even it was proven to be true.

Is atheism a psychopathic condition?

Blessings and Peace

Hilarius
 
Old 04-20-2001, 02:31 AM   #10
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Bill,

You are hardly one to lecture on people believing myths. You still owe me either a retraction or new evidence on your spreading the Library myth.

B
 
 

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