The Exodus-Conquest and the Archaeology of Transjordan: New Light on an Old Problem -- By: Gerald L. Mattingly

Journal: Grace Theological Journal
Volume: GTJ 04:2 (Fall 1983)
Article: The Exodus-Conquest and the Archaeology of Transjordan: New Light on an Old Problem
Author: Gerald L. Mattingly

The Exodus-Conquest and the Archaeology of
Transjordan: New Light on an Old Problem

Gerald L. Mattingly

One of the major arguments used to support a 13th-century date for the exodus-conquest is the alleged Late Bronze Age occupational gap in central and southern Transjordan. Recent archaeological investigations indicate that this gap hypothesis, which was originally advocated by Nelson Glueck, needs to be modified. Although the historical/archaeological picture is still coming into focus, it now appears that Ammon, Moab, and Edom were settled during the Late Bronze Age. The density of this occupation remains an open question. Nevertheless, it appears that the archaeological data from Late Bronze Age Transjordan have become neutral in the debate on the date of the exodus-conquest.

* * *

In the opening pages of Redating the Exodus and Conquest,1 John J. Bimson identifies two major assumptions of his study. First, he maintains that “the biblical traditions of the bondage in Egypt and of the Exodus have a firm historical basis.” Second, Bimson insists that these historical events must be and can be connected to an absolute chronology.2 This emphasis demonstrates that Redating is important reading for anyone who takes the biblical narratives and their historical/archaeological context seriously. Although many readers will have some reservations, Bimson’s study is now the most comprehensive and up-to-date examination of the historical and archaeological data pertaining to the OT accounts of the exodus-conquest.

Since its publication in 1978, Redating has received mixed reviews.3 For example, Miller suggests that Bimson’s theory of a mid-15th century exodus-conquest, which calls for the lowering of the end

of MB IIC, is plausible, but the number of secondary explanations needed to support this daring theory neutralize its advantage over the Albrightian hypothesis for a 13th-century date. Miller says that the most significant contribution of Bimson’s book is its demonstration “that those who hold to a thirteenth century exodus-conquest have no monopoly on the archaeological evidence.”4 In other words, Redating re-examines an old problem from a fresh perspective and shows that the questions concerning the date of the exodus-conquest have not been resolved. Not only are there new ways of looking at old data, as Bimson proves, but there is also new evidence that must be considered. The main purpose of this article is to r...

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