From a current debate on the Historicity of the Exodus found on Theology Web between a fundamentalist and a moderate Christian:
…Holes, gaps and chasms abound in our knowledge and always will. In the last hundred years we have seen stunning advances in the ability to copy and save data on durable media. We are accustomed now to the smallest story from half way around the globe being conveyed to us within minutes. Our world has shrunk so that local news is no different from international in coverage. Those advances have shifted our perspective and allow us gloss over the reality that much of history has been recorded on materials that fade as the years themselves do and from a time when people rarely knew what was going on even 200 miles away. Stein (the moderate debate opponent) has challenged me to a debate on the issue of Exodus because I do not feel as he does that an absence of evidence equals evidence of absence argument works well in regard to history or is even logical. He claims certainty. I claim his reasoning is fallacious. I intend to show that at the minimum there is more than enough real life facts to doubt the issue of the Exodus is a settled fact. He wishes to claim that the Exodus is mythology and I will show that the claims upon which his thesis is built are mythical in themselves.
…If not for Thera’s (volcanic) eruption being the kind of event that could leave geological marks it would be considered mythical to ever have affected Egypt but we know it did by the nature of the eruption. Did Egyptians miss out on talking and writing about such events. That seems unlikely. Rather than no one ever recording anything much of that event, the silence is more likely to be due to the nature of the recording materials.
…One must ask how many times can we go to the well of certainty and be wrong before we are concerned the well has issues? How has Absence of Evidence equals Evidence of Absence held up in the past? Is it even a logical argument? That test has been run and its been an abysmal failure not once or twice but SEVERAL times in relation to the Biblical narratives. We are reminded of this very recently where the monarchy of David as mythology has not only been challenged but all but defeated in less than five years. Absence of evidence arguments failed us yet again.
…However rather than just dissent to the weak claim that absence of evidence proves histories didn’t happen, it will be my technique in this debate to highlight actual facts not argumentations. I have no doubt that there will be differences of opinion to those facts (mostly of the ancient writings category) and what they signify but the abundance of them will to a fair minded person, I believe, support my position that the Exodus is NOT a settled matter.
…I think it is wishful thinking to see the Exodus as not representing itself as historical narrative since it provides the context for the giving of the law which almost the entire Bible affirms as historical. The idea that untruths can be a solid basis for THE truth is one of the most convoluted nonsensical arguments to be ever made by any part of the church. Anachronisms likewise have never been compelling to me because I have always felt scribes updating names and places are beneficial to the text.
|a volcanic eruption on an island, such as Thera|
I’ve had discussions myself with this particular fundamentalist Christian on the issue of the historicity of the Exodus and he at that time also brought up the issue of the eruption of Thera (now the Greek island of Santorini), arguing that the lack of surviving Egyptian records about this event supports his theory that the Absence of Evidence is not Evidence of Absence, ie, just because no Egyptian records survive of this event doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. The lack of Egyptian records regarding this massive volcanic eruption (probably the strongest ever in history), which showered the eastern Mediterranean with ash and affected the climate of that entire region for several years afterwards, demonstrates that it is possible for a major traumatic national event to have occurred in the ancient world and there be no surviving written record of the event today.
However, our fundamentalist has a problem.
We DO have evidence of the volcanic eruption of Thera. We have ruins on the island of Santorini (Thera) covered in layers of volcanic ash and other geologic evidence of this event. A lack of documentation of this event in surviving Egyptian steles and other means of documentation is irrelevant because we DO have evidence.
However, we have ZERO archeological evidence of several million Hebrews enslaved in Egypt for approximately 400 hundred years, nor any archeological evidence of two to three million Hebrews traipsing around the Sinai peninsula for forty years. NONE! Imagine the amount of evidence left behind if two to three million people, all traveling as a group, wandered around a small area of land the size of the state of West Virginia for forty years! There would have to be SOME trace left of them.
But there isn’t.
In conclusion, if we had the same level of archeological/geological evidence for the Exodus as we do for the eruption of Thera the lack of evidence in Egyptian records would again be irrelevant. But a lack of any archeological evidence and a lack of any written record, in Egypt or in any other culture in the Near East and eastern Mediterranean, of this massive Egyptian defeat at the hands of their run-away slaves, is convincing evidence to the overwhelming majority of archeologists and Near East scholars that the Exodus is a fiction.
The Exodus DID NOT HAPPEN.
|Thera (Santorini) with the massive crater left by the volcanic eruption|