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Egyptian record keeping and the Exodus

Discussion in 'Religious Debates' started by dan, Jan 12, 2006.

  1. dan

    dan Well-Known Member

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    I was reading through some interesting texts yesterday and came across some fun stuff. It is often asserted that the story of the Exodus is fallacious because there is no record of it anywhere in Egyptian history. Many arguments are made for both sides, but the main theme is that, apparently, nothing has been produced to prove the Hebrews were ever in Egypt. I invite the cynics to debate the evidence I will shortly provide. As a side note - I call you "skeptics" cynics because I don't believe you're skeptical of anything at all. A skeptic examines evidence objectively before accepting anything. Most of the people who engage in debates here have no intention of examining anything at all. They seek out evidence that supports their own preconceived notions and dismiss all other evidence as unfounded. I will cite references here and I invite all those who disagree with my conclusion to do the same.

    I will begin with record keeping. How much of what you do is recorded? I will be extremely generous and say about 5%. The real number is between 1-2% (Dr. Gee), but I'll give you the benefit of the doubt here. OK. How much of that 5% of what you did as a child has survived to today? It's about the same. We'll give you 5%. How much of that has been read and published? Very little of it. An Egyptologist told me yesterday morning that about 10% of the Egyptian texts we have found have been READ! There are so few Egyptologists in the world that we have thousands and thousands of papyri sitting in shoe boxes that have never been looked at! A professor of Mesoamerica at my university says their field is even worse. The few scholars there are have so much work to do in their own specific field that they can't search them. I'm told that a lot of the texts are just receipts anyway. No one wants to invest the time. Check out the Society of Biblical Literature the next time it rolls through town. It will fascinate you. The point is that 5% of what is done is recorded. Much less than 5% of that has survived the 4,000 years since the purported incident. Around 5% of that has been discovered, and less than 10% of THAT has actually been read. Drawing any kind of conclusion on whether or not something like the Exodus actually happened based on those numbers is ridiculous.

    Another statement is that something like the Exodus would have definitely been recorded. It would have been too important to ignore. Seemingly a valid point, except for the way that conclusion ignores the reticence of Egyptians to record anything that makes them look less than god-like. Look at a creation story. One shows Heliopolis as the center of creation (K. Sethe, Die altagyptischen Pyramidentexten, Leipzig, 1910). When another city becomes the capital (Memphis, for example) the story is changed so as to avoid admitting another city is better than yours. Check it out - J.H. Breasted, ZAeS, XXXIX (1901), or A. Erman, Ein Denkmal memphitischer Theologie (SPAW, 1911). Another place is Thebes - C. Leemans, Monumens egyptiens de musee d'antiquites des Pays-Bas a Leide (Leyden, 1841). Egyptians can never admit defeat. Ramses II is a perfect example. This is the Pharoah assumed to be the Pharoah of the Exodus. Wouldn't he have recorded something that important? The answer is no.

    Look at the battle of Kadesh. Ramses II got stomped by the Hittites, and yet the Egyptian accounts call it a victory. These websites will show you just how much the history was changed just to uphold the image of Egyptian dominance:

    http://nefertiti.iwebland.com/ramseskadeshcampaign.htm

    http://nefertiti.iwebland.com/kadeshaccounts.htm

    http://nefertiti.iwebland.com/kadesh_battle_picture.htm

    Should we even expect to find writings about a slave race that escaped Egypt and killed all the Egyptian first-born along the way? Not if we know anything about Egypt. But we have found some interesting stuff. I'll share what I came across the other day. I was reading an account of the taking of Joppa by Thoth. Its from around 1400 B.C. (corresponding with approximations of Hebrew enslavement). The manuscript is number 10060 in the British Museum. It was published by H.P. Blok in De beide Volksverhalen van Papyrus Harris 500 Verso (Leyden, 1925). One passage reads, "Have the maryanu bring in the horses and give them feed, or an apir may pass by them..." 'Apiru were foreigners, and they served the Egyptians. In cuneiform they are Habiru. This is assumed by many to be the origin of the word "Hebrew." Check out J.A. Wilson, AJSL, XLIX (1933). The text I was reading came from J.B. Pritchard's Ancient Near Eastern Texts (Princeton University Press, USA, 1992), and don't worry, Hugh Nibley has nothing to do with any of this.

    This proves nothing, but those who would spout the litany that nothing has ever been produced that could corroborate the Exodus claim would do well to actually look into it. These studies are mostly from almost a hundred years ago, as well. I know it's hard, but try to keep up.
     
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  2. ThisShouldMakeSense

    ThisShouldMakeSense Active Member

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    Loved that, mate. Sound reasoning on your behalf. If i knew how to give frubals, i would!
     
  3. Jayhawker Soule

    Jayhawker Soule <yawn> ignore </yawn>
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    No, this proves that you know nothing.
    There is evidence of a gradual Israelite ethnogenesis in the highlands, when your fable speaks of a military campaign.
    There is evidence of quiescence when your fable speaks of conquests.
    There is evidence of an undisturbed diplomatic, political, economic, and military reign in Egypt when your fable speaks of a country decimated by plagues, rid of its animals, and with its military crushed and demoralized.

    There is no evidence of a catatrophe in Egypt.
    There is no evidence of Egypt's enemies taking advantage of such a collapse.
    There is no evidence of destruction layers where such layers should exist.

    The result is that Dever, a maximalist in the minimalist/maximalist debates, states ...
    All that empty drivel and you've offered not one single piece of evidence for the biblical Exodus/Conquest. Behind me I have a copy of Shaw's "The Oxford History of Ancient Egypt". Six months ago I spent many, many valuable hours at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. What the two have in common is this: no hint of your fabled Exodus/Conquest.

    No, dan, you "try to keep up", and try very hard not to further expose your pedantic ignorance.
     
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  4. dan

    dan Well-Known Member

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    I didn't say I was gonna prove that it happened, I only said I was gonna show that it cannot be so flippantly dismissed. I asked for references to debunk my claims. You provided the ramblings of one William Dever. Dever's writings are full of straw men and contentious arguments. His archeological "facts" are a joke. He calls minimalists "nihilists," "postmodernists," "deconstructionists," skeptics," and "revisionists." Here's a critique by a man much wiser than I (I know him only as Joel):

    "In his first book, he attempts to tie them together under a single rubric. He describes the minimalists' position as (pp. 26-27):

    (1) All the texts of the Hebrew Bible in its present form date to the Hellenistic era (as late as the 2nd-1st century). They are therefore "unhistorical," of little or no value for reconstructing a "biblical" or an "ancient Israel," both if which are simply modern Jewish or Christian literary constructs.

    No minimalist argues that all texts are Hellenistic--Davies himself thinks that Deuteronomy is a 5th century construct, hardly a controversial claim. Joseph Blenkinsopp, whom Dever recommends, puts the Pentateuch at the Persian period, somewhat akin to Davies. Dever conflates the final dates (which many clearly do agree is Persian or Hellenistic) with when the sources emerge, which he then accuses the minimalists of doing so. The fact that they give little help in reconstructing ancient Israel is conceded by everyone, including Dever, who insists that archaeological data comes first, and the triumphal proclamations of Albright et al. are useless today. Dever seems to be historically ignorant, when he would have said essentially the same thing to his elders (though the meaning of "little" would have changed over the decades). Furthermore, this is hardly "postmodern", simply a recognition of the duress of time that it has on historical recollection. Dever uses exactly the same approach in discussing Genesis, Numbers, and Joshua (compare with "the gap between written fixation and the 'underlying events' is too great to permit us to accept the tradition as a primary source for our reconstruction of the past." N.P.Lemche, Early Israel: Anthropological and Historical Studies in the Israelite Society before the Monarchy, 1985, p.377-8). Unlike Dever, Lemche actually understands the historiographical patterns that preclude strong historicity, while Dever blithely assumes that there may even be real history in some of the patriarchal narratives.

    (2) Interpretation of the biblical texts should be "liberated from historical consideration." It should proceed strictly on the basis of literary analysis of the Bible's "stories," which reveal mainly the "self-perception" of the narrators.

    This is a hopelessly simplified version of the minimalists. Perhaps Dever needs it this simple so that he can understand what's going on. Some perhaps aren't interested in the history of early Israel the way Dever is, so they do take this approach. But it is stressed that this method is used to understand the literary corpus and not the underlying history which is done elsewhere (in archaeology, for example).

    (3) This radically "anti-historic movement" in the study of ancient Israelite "history" has at last brought us such "new knowledge" that it makes all other approaches obsolete, indeed illegitimate. Those who persist in traditional approaches may be dismissed as either servants of the religious Establishment, or simply crypto-Fundamentalists.

    It's hard to see what Dever's point is here. As a general trend, he might notice that archaeology has been employing different methods over time that have tended to be improvements over the former methods (not that one should take in any positivist conclusions from this, only that "stratigraphy" can safely be described as "better" than treasure-hunting and looting. If such a rhetorical claim is made (presumably by Davies), it remains to be seen whether it bears itself out, and is hardly a strike against its proponent. Perhaps Dever thinks that merely mentioning this somehow tackles their arguments.

    (4) Attempts to write any more histories of "Israel" should be abandoned. Instead, we should be writing "Palestinian history," which American and Israeli biblicists and archaeologists have conspired to "suppress" because of their biblical and nationalistic biases.

    Forget for the moment that he's directly contradicting himself having earlier stated that minimalists argue that no history is at all possible. He's refering to Whitelam here, but of course tries to smear all of the minimalists with this brush, forgetting that Whitelam criticises nearly everyone in The Invention of Ancient Israel, including several minimalists and himself! What he is arguing is that so-called "Israelite" study has clouded out all discussion of other indigenous peoples, which he calls "Palestinian", and of course is not refering to modern Palestinians' ancestors (Dever seems to forget where the word "Palestine" came from, trying to force Whitelam's book into a political agenda, as if that repudiates it). I think Dever only ever read the title to this book."

    You've completely overlooked the statements that I made that explain away the evidence you claim supports your side. The Egyptians were not famous for writing down the truth. I had a debate today with a professor over whether or not Si-nuhe was a real person. It's a pretty popular story, but we don't know if it's true, just like we don't know about 95% of what went on in Egypt during the second century B.C.

    It's one thing to call someone ignorant, but it's quite another to show them ignorant. You'll have to do better.
     
  5. Jayhawker Soule

    Jayhawker Soule <yawn> ignore </yawn>
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    A kingdom, during its Golden Age, suffers a catastrophic loss of population, the annihilation of its livestock, the eradication of its food chain, the contamination of its water supply, the death of its first born, and the defeat of its military. Magically, its enemies take no notice. Contested trade routes from Memphis to Ezion-Geber, Tyre, Sidon, and Damascas remain secure and unscathed. No attempt is made by Mitanni or Hittite foe to exploit the condition of a now crippled enemy. On the contrary, Egypt awakens the next day, quietly sweeps the embarrassment under the rug, and continues its Golden Age unabated.

    I quoted Dever solely because he is the archaeologist most often quoted by those seeking to defend the historicity of the Exodus, I will be more than happy to reference Finkelstein, Mazar, Redford, Smith and others.

    As for Joel Ng aka Celsus, he can be found at the Elba Forum, and those who have read him over the years (at elba and iidb) know him as a person who dismisses the historicity of the Exodus/Conquest narrative. Quote-mining Joel to support your drivel is pathetically dishonest. Note, for example, how your cut-&-paste censors Joel's support of Finkelstein conta Dever. Were this a class with an ethics clause, you'd be thrown out in disgrace. People should also notice that, while you quote-mine from the Elba Forum without attribution, you seem entirely unwilling to post your OP at that site for review and comment. The reason should be obvious.

    By the way, those interested in Joel's excellent overview of Biblical Archaeology will find it here.
     
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  6. dan

    dan Well-Known Member

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    I didn't edit anything. I pasted that in one lump. I chose the four arguments he made against Dever and pasted them. I expected anyone interested to simply google a sentence from the quote to find the saource. I wasn't trying to pawn off anything as my own. See how easy it is to get online and find someone who agrees with what you say?

    Egyptians swept embarrassment under the rug all the time. Anyone so intimately familiar with Egyptian histry should know that.
     
  7. Jayhawker Soule

    Jayhawker Soule <yawn> ignore </yawn>
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    :rolleyes:
     
  8. dan

    dan Well-Known Member

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    Your strongest argument is ad hominem. You make fun of people rather than engage them in debate. The entire article would have been too lengthy to paste, so I chose from the beginning of the relevant argument to the end. You then accuse me of intentionally leaving out an entirely seperate argument, saying I edited it on purpose. I did no such thing, and now you try to make me look stupid so you can feel like you've won. This is high school behavior. Present your argument and stop there, unless this is more about breastfeeding your ego than intelligent debate.

    By the way, where in my statements have I made a derogatory statement about your character?
     
  9. Katzpur

    Katzpur Not your average Mormon

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    What was it I was saying the other day, JS? Something about weedkiller as I recall.
     
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  10. Mister_T

    Mister_T Forum Relic
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    Well let's say for the sake of argument that at there is no concrete evidence of the Exodus. Fine. But the Bible has been proven right on numerous people and places. The biggest one being Christ. Archeologists back in 2000 found a piece of the Temple of Solomon. Numerous towns and civilizations mentioned in the Bible have been discovered. Ancient tribes from all around the world reported a great flood and the time periods in which floods occurred were all reletivley close to one another. Majority of places and events in history are based off of a single written record and a lot of them have very little evidence to back it up (somtimes there is none). And society accepts them as true. The Bible has many things to back up it's claims. The same scrutiny should applied to the Bible as with other non-biblical places and events. Otherwise all places and events in history should be under the same amount of skepticism.
     
  11. Buttons*

    Buttons* Glass half Panda'd

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    how do you KNOW christ existed?
     
  12. Jayhawker Soule

    Jayhawker Soule <yawn> ignore </yawn>
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    In order: (a) no, (b) where, and (c) so what ...
     
  13. Mister_T

    Mister_T Forum Relic
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    I don't. How do you know Alexander The Great, Julius Ceasar, and Napolean exsisted. We don't. Yet we accept their exsistance as true based on hear-say. Just using the same method :D
     
  14. Quoth The Raven

    Quoth The Raven Half Arsed Muse

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    Um, little more 'hearsay' on those three than a single book with no other supporting evidence, I think you'll find.:rolleyes:
     
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  15. angellous_evangellous

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    Damn! I can't give you any frubals! :mad:
     
  16. Jayhawker Soule

    Jayhawker Soule <yawn> ignore </yawn>
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    While it is an interesting question, it is also off topic. While there is little or no evidence for an historical Jesus, the arguments against such a character are arguments from absense. The Exodus is a far different matter, where there is an ever increasing amount of evidence against the Biblical narrative.
     
  17. MdmSzdWhtGuy

    MdmSzdWhtGuy Well-Known Member

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    Ahh, where to start. . .

    First with Christ. Frankly there is not much evidence for an historical Christ, tho, there is no real evidence against such a historical figure having lived either, so I will leave this one alone.

    Second point. The flood. If the Biblical story of the flood is to be beleived then Noah and his family were the only humans left alive on Earth. So if Noah and his progeny are the only ones left who was writing all these stories of floods? Besides the MYRIAD of reasons why a global flood did not and could not have happened, how do you answer this very simple problem?

    Third point - that society accepts the Bible without any evidence to support it, therefore we should accept it as well? Please google logical fallacies.

    Your last sentence that the Bible should be placed under the same scrutiny as other non-Biblical claims is one I whole heartedly agree with. I am pretty sure if you apply this level of scrutiny, tho, you will find the Bible, and many of the claims made in it extremely lacking in evidence/credulity.

    B.
     
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  18. ThisShouldMakeSense

    ThisShouldMakeSense Active Member

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    On that point. The flood account is found in the book of Genesis, written by Moses, after the flood took place. Tie that in with 2 Timothy 3:16 that all scripture is inspired by God. That is where Moses got the information.
    2 Peter 1:21 (New Life Version)
    No part of the Holy Writings came long ago because of what man wanted to write. But holy men who belonged to God spoke what the Holy Spirit told them.
     
  19. MdmSzdWhtGuy

    MdmSzdWhtGuy Well-Known Member

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    My post above was in response to a previous poster who claimed, as evidence of Noah's Flood, that there were stories from multiple cultures of a great flood.

    If there were a Biblical Flood, then all these other author's the previous poster was referring to, would have been drowned. I was not referring to, in any way, how Moses came up with the idea for the Flood.

    B.
     
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  20. linwood

    linwood Well-Known Member

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    It is.

    You are ignoring the context and authorship of the books.
     
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