Thursday, September 22, 2011
It’s perspective: anthropologist or archeologist, liberal or conservative, Passover and Exodus
Sunday morning at our class we got off in one direction and went in another, as usual. This time it was whether the Exodus was historical. There is no archeological evidence to support it; there is a great deal of opinion that it is a marvelous – theological – truth.
Also, as usual, I have been four days late in arriving at an opinion. It is similar to a thought in today’s mathematics: zero is a positive number. Of course, there would be no evidence, that is the evidence. Losers want to forget, winners celebrate, and remember, and celebrate. The regime in Egypt would have found its very existence threatened by a successful massive slave revolt, particularly if a sizeable military unit perished in trying to stop them. The whoever - Caesar, Czar, Emperor, Pharaoh - in that kind of situation orders all evidence of the slaves existence destroyed, any mention of them meant a tongue cut out – or more.
As to the parting of the Red Sea? Ten thousand other slave revolts ended in massacres; this one didn’t. I have a word from the newspaper about that. Tsunami. The sea retreats, dry land appears. Soon after comes a massive wave. Miraculous. Of course. Anyone who has walked away from staring death in the face knows about that. “It was a miracle I lived to tell about it.” That’s one perspective; there is another. It is celebrated by the Passover. Would that everybody with a “close call” (and recalls!) could find their meaning in life in such a way.
The archeologist probably will never find anything. The anthropologists already have. What would be interesting is the opinion of the geologists. Was there a massive earthquake somewhere in the Red Sea area? It would be useful in dating such a story that has been celebrated for thousands of years…
There are similar thoughts to things like that. In this book coming out on Paul by Annelie and myself, there are going to be a lot of similarities to what is taught in various seminaries – and some very radical differences. When you realize Saul of Tarsus was struggling with a flashback – and what comes with that – a lot of perspectives start trickling out and begin accumulating in a hurry. Not to worry. It is like an old saying almost all of us know.
“When I was young, I saw the forest. When I was an adult, I saw the trees. Now that I am older, I see the forest again.”