I’m a pretty good googler, but when it comes to claims regarding the Bible, I have a lot of trouble finding out what the main scholarly perspectives are (in archaeology and Biblical criticism). I understood that the evidence indicates some of the Bible’s claims are untrue, but some friends disagree with me. Here are some questions about claims some friends have made. Any answers would be appreciated:
If Ezra was a major redactor of the Bible, how come the Samaritans also had a (relatively) similar Bible? Didn’t the Samaritans and the Jews have a bad relationship before Ezra?
Was there “a population explosion in Biblical Canaan along with the introduction of pottery and other remnants showing a decidedly non-Caananite origin,” thus indicating the historicity of the Biblical exodus?
Is Amenhotep II a candidate as the Pharoah of the Exodus?
Yes and no. A lot of what Christian apologists (and uneducated fundies) like to claim as hard evidence for the Bible coming true has been debunked.
A lot of other claims are outside true/false checking; e.g. if Bible scholarship determines that a text supposedly giving a prophecy about the future in 400 years was actually written 400 years later, then there is not much left to check.
Archaelogy has revealed some evidence along the lines of “people lived in that area”, but also some errancies in the Bible.
I’m not a Bible scholar myself, so I can’t answer your specific questions, but I can point you to here, an articleexamining some prophecies in the OT. (It’s part of a series of articles from different scholars dissecting the apologist book “Evidence that demands a verdict”).
I’ve come across a few candidates for “Pharaoh of the Exodus,” but not yet Amenhotep II. Do you have a cite?
I dimly recall some scholar(s) (Diogenes? ) claiming David was probably a small-time chief. Ahab (married to the famous Jezebel of Tyre), who was not of the House of David but ruled Israel about a century after David, is the first King of Israel whose existence has clear non-Biblical proof, IIRC.
What exactly does this mean? Even if 99% of scholars agree there was no Grand Exodus, there might have been a Petit Exodus. In any event there are strong links connecting the material of the legend of Moses to material Egypt, so dating the legend(s) has interest even if only legend.
One item I read suggested the “plagues” of Exodus are tied to the fallout from the eruption of Thera on Crete, which not only destroyed a lot of the island and much of the Crete civilization, but wreaked havoc on the ecology of the surrounding area (rivers running red, plagues and insects) and may have encouraged the Egyptians to let/force foreign subjects to leave when times are hard and food is short.
None of this really speaks to the Bible’s veracity, though. If there really was a leader of the Israelites named David, well, so what? What’s interesting is not just the mere fact of his (or any other biblical character’s) existence, but the stories of their deeds (especially the miraculous ones).
The history there is conflicting (depending on which side you’re listening to), and largely legendary, but the Samaritans were basically an artifact of pre-exilic Israelites (though they never called themselves Jews) with the same Torah and some other basic beliefs. They don’t recognize the post-exilic Hebrew Bible. Basically (at least according to their own traditional history), they are Northen Israelites who did not go into the Babylonian exile, and did not adopt the changes to Israelite religious practices and scripture that occurred among Judeans after the exile. They sort of froze in time.
No. There are some expansions in population, yes, but they are expansions of Canaanites. The archaeology shows pretty convincingly that the distinct culture of “Israelites” emerged from indigenous Canaanites (including the Canaanite pantheon and language), and never left. There was no captivity in Egypt, no Exodus.
There was no Captivity in Egypt, and no Biblical Exodus, but as far as the internal timing of the story goes, it indicates that the enslaved Israelites were made to build the city of Pi-Ramesses, which was built under Ramesses II (a couple hundred years after Amehotep II). He didn’t dfrown in the Red Sea, though. He lived to be over 90 years old. You can see his mummy right here.
The Amenhotep II theory is probably based on a contradictory dating from Kings which says the Exodus occurred 480 years before Solomon’s reign. Amenhotep II also did not die in the Red sea, though, and we have his mummy too.
That’s a solid maybe, but if he did exist, his kingdom as described in the Bible did not. It’s likely that he did exist as a minor local chieftain and warlord who beacme a legendary character ala King Arthur.
One quick comment on this: note that if common-sense extrapolation is allowed, e.g. that Israelite men had on average one wife and two children, then the Exodus involved something like 2.5 million people, and their flocks and herds. There is certainly no evidence of a population explosion of that magnitude in Canaan, nor of their passage through Sinai, nor the presence of that large a body of foreigners ever in Egypt.
Just as a pointless aside, one of my favorite novels is God Knows by Joseph Heller (who of course is most well known for Catch-22.) The novel is more or less a set of memoirs from David’s point of view. Very enjoyable reading.
Back to the OP. I was raised as an evangelical, and my parents used to get a magazine about Christian Archaeology, I forget what it was called. It was pretty apparent to me even then that it was wishful thinking to assume that there was any significant real archaeological evidence support much of a literal reading of the OT. That didn’t stop evangelicals from jumping all over it with glee as evidence for the Bible’s historicity. It puzzles me to this day why it’s so important to these people for the Bible to be literally true in all respects.
To anyone who paid attention, however, you can plainly see that many of the connections between archaeology and some of the big events of the Bible are tenuous at best, and often entirely non-existent. The Exodus and the Flood are a couple blatant examples.
Threads like this make it pretty apparent to me that many Dopers engage in wishful thinking, assuming that there will never be any significant real archaeological evidence to support much of a literal reading of the OT. The fact that no evidence for XYZ has been found so far enables some people to jumping all over it with glee in the belief that they’ll never find such evidence. It puzzles me to this day why it’s so important to these people for the Bible to be false in so many respects.
Serious archaeology has been going on for only a few centuries. People are rendering a verdict before all the evidence is in. I can understand people who doubt things, but I don’t understand the ones who are convinced that certain stories never happened.
Many of the seminal stories of the Bible violate the laws of physics in an enormous way, no less than stories in other mythologies. Take the Flood narrative, for instance, or the vast majority of Jesus’ miracles. (I write “vast majority” because the dual feedings of the multitude can be fanwanked into Jesus shaming/inspiring people into sharing what they have.) These stories are no more credible than the Labors of Herakles, but no one holds the Son of Zeus up as a moral example whom everyone in America should be compelled to emulate.
This is coming from someone who DOES think Jesus Christ is the best possible moral example, but only for me. (That is, I don’t think others should choose Christ over other figures that work better for them.)
There is an abundance of archaeological evdience directly contrading a lot of Biblical claims. That’s not wishful thinking, it’s just the objctive data.
This perception you have that people want the Bible to be proven false is not grounded in reality. Good archaeology is just about finding out what is true, not in pursuing a particular historical agenda. That’s religion.