Recent Research on the Date and Setting of the Exodus. -- By: Bryant G. Wood

Journal: Bible and Spade (Second Run)
Volume: BSPADE 21:4 (Fall 2008)
Article: Recent Research on the Date and Setting of the Exodus.
Author: Bryant G. Wood


Recent Research on the Date and Setting of the Exodus.

Bryant G. Wood

The date and nature of the Exodus have been subjects of scholarly debate since the beginnings of Egyptology in the mid-19th century, and the dispute continues unabated today.

The exodus from Egypt is a topic around which whirl controversy, debate and heated argument. There is no consensus regarding the date of the Israelite slavery, nor its nature, nor even its historicity…It is an area where archaeological interpretation and biblical narrative collide (Oblath 2007: 380).

Sadly, most contemporary Biblical scholars deny the historicity of God’s miraculous deliverance of Israel from Egypt as documented in the Old Testament (Ex 2–12) and alluded to in the New Testament (Acts 7:36; Rom 9:17).

The “No Exodus” Theory

Not Mentioned in Egyptian Records

What are the reasons for the widespread skepticism concerning the Exodus? A major stumbling block is that there is no mention of Israelites in Egypt or of an Exodus from Egypt in Egyptian records:

The book [Exodus] relates to Egyptian history but only in a vague way. Not a single Egyptian is identified by name, not even the pharaohs, despite the fact that two of them, the pharaohs of the oppression and the exodus, are involved…Historians acknowledge that, after more than two centuries of archaeological research, there is still an absence of evidence for the presence of Israel in Egypt (Johnstone 2007: 372).

What is usually implied by “evidence” is a reference to Israel or the Exodus in Egyptian written records. It is interesting that Johnstone uses the phrase “absence of evidence” with regard to the Exodus. There is an oft-repeated adage in Biblical and archaeological studies with regard to efforts to reconstruct events of thousands of years ago from the bits and tatters of information that have survived: “absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.” Rather than blindly accepting a learned scholar’s argument from silence to dismiss the factuality of the Exodus, let us look at the reality of the situation.

Where would one expect to find written records of the presence of Israel in Egypt, or of the Exodus? In Rameses, of course, the place where the Israelites were settled when Jacob and his family entered Egypt (Gn 47:11), where the Israelites labored as slaves (Ex 1:11) and where they departed under the leadership of Moses (Ex 12:37; You must have a subscription and be logged in to read the entire article.
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