The Exodus no or little evidence

Hi this is my first post here but have been following Biologos for sometime ) So I am reading through the scriptures … and one thing that concerns me is there is little or no evidence for any mass exodus from Egypt into Israel. There is evidence of one small migration but this was in the 100s of 100s of 1000s which surely even after all this time would have left its traces.

Jesus quotes from the OT often … but if Jesus is quoting things which have no basis in reality then were does this leave us ?

Thanks and hope my first question makes some sense )

Dino

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There is a lot of room between “has no basis in reality” and “isn’t historically accurate by modern standards.”

Jesus referred to the Old Testament because it shaped the identity of the Jews and it was common ground for making the points he wanted to make about God and his kingdom. I don’t think his point in referencing any of the literary knowledge the Jews relied on as their “history” was to establish the historical accuracy of events. Paul mentions the rock that followed the Israelites around, which I imagine he probably knew was more legend than historical fact.

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Old Testament interpretation is a difficult thing, especially for those of us who were immersed in inerrancy in one way or another most of our lives.
I think the Exodus and Moses are historical despite the lack of hard evidence, but doubt the stories of the Bible are historical in the modern sense as they are teaching theological lessons rather than history lessons. Thus, if the Exodus was a big deal to Israel, but a blip on the screen for Egypt, it doesn’t bother me. And if Israel consisted of a ragged band of goat herders at the time, which is probably closer to the truth, it doesn’t bother me. Too much. My background still surfaces and makes me squirm a bit.

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We quote Shakespeare, Lennon.

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Aye, you can take the man out of Biblical literalism…

This helps make more sense of some NT uses of scripture.

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The important thing to remember about the Exodus is that it represents Israel’s origin story as a nation. God’s leading his people, Receiving of the divine Law, Putting away foreign gods, recognizing the holiness of the land. A journey can be spiritual, with a reflection in history.

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Pax Christi Dino!

About a year ago, I had actually asked similar questions about The Exodus, which I had taken at face value and completely for granted up until that point. I did some looking into it for a while, and it seems safe to say that while a horde of millions (who could have easily overrun their Egyptian assailants and fertilized the desert) is not historically accurate, there are still good reasons to take the narrative seriously.
There’s some quibbling one could get into regarding why the number of Israelites is so large; some might say that the Hebrew speaks only of clans yet gets translated into millions, while others such as Richard Elliott Friedman might say that the high number was intentionally done to retroject the then-current population of Israelites into the story of the few involved in the event (The Levites, everyone else was indigenous Canaanite) so that The Exodus could be the story of everyone, and there are those like Dr. David Falk who posit that the Hebrew speaks of perhaps hundreds or tens of thousands. So while we struggle to find evidence of an Israelite group in the millions, it is unlikely that such a central and embarrassing origin myth would have just been made up out of thin air and not have a basis, especially since it has connections to the Egyptian named Levites, involves God who was first called YHW in the significant land of Midian, Pithom and Rameses and their Semitic populations, the war tent of King Rameses, birthing bricks (as weird as it sounds), the Merneptah Stele and its mentioning of Israel as a people group and not an established nation, and a bunch of other stuff that I’m probably forgetting.

With all that being said, we can think about this Christological issue several ways. First and foremost, it is important to remember that God came down to the 1st century Roman world as a 1st century Jew, so He had to have been able to communicate with everyone by using things they already understood, regardless of its accuracy or not; He calls the Pentateuch the Books of Moses, never mind the multiple authors involved in its gradual making or the lack of any assertion of Mosaic authorship, but that was how His audience knew it.
At the same time, if The Exodus had no such basis in reality, I suppose it could still be somewhat inspiring, but not only would all of the significance be lost, but it would mean that God never called anybody out of Egypt.

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None of which invalidates the core claim of Christianity, on the contrary it refines it of primitive enculturation, makes it infinitely more a timeless intellectual proposition.

Whereas having to believe primitive anti-scientific, savage, anti-historical myths as faith ruins it.

Not really sure how The Exodus is anti-historical if all I’m saying is that a small group of Semites left Egypt around the time of King Rameses.

You’re right that it doesn’t refute the core claim of Christianity, but wouldn’t it be at least somewhat strange if one of the most important events for God’s people never happened?

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For clarification, what do you understand this to be? I’m not trying to be provoking, although I understand my question certainly can be understood this way. I’m also deliberately avoiding giving you “prompts” of what I think you might mean, because 1) I hate it when people do that to me, and 2) my prompts are nearly always wrong.

Thanks for clarifying before I even asked.

As a 20th/21st C Gentile I find the unenculturation of the core claim of Christianity necessary to be of any benefit to anyone outside of the 1st C ME context. Thanks for pointing that out.
What value do you see in this timeless intellectual proposition?

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Because none of the Majabharat epic happened. The Canaanite monotheist tribe arrogated Sumerian roots and an Egyptian foundation myth as it evolved over 1000 years to first temple Judaism.

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Ah go on Kendel. This is me and thee.

Therefore you’d be right as to the core claim.

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Yes. The heritage of the few became the heritage of them all. I think the Exodus story is a wonderful way to say, “We aren’t pagan Canaanites anymore.”

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“And there has not arisen a prophet since in Israel like Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face.”

I like how Tremper Longman handled the details on numbers, date, and literary devices with the Exodus account.

Looking at it in the sweep of redemptive history, and in relation to the self-evident testimony of the Spirit today, and even in light of the transfiguration account, something glorious and world shattering occurred with Israel. Yahweh was in the camp.

The Spirit from the cool of day, chose a people to deliver from bondage and restore to paradise. And unlike the gods of the other nations, he would not show partiality to the wicked.

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Are you telling me, “You can’t go wrong,” then?

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Of course! You can’t. I can I’m sure.

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You are gracious, but I go wrong constantly.
Still, I’d rather not take a guess/stab. I normally miss the mark.
Of course, you are also under no obligation to answer anything I ask.

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Surely nothing comes close to the claim of divine incarnation. If that is true, then none of the pious myths have any relevance at all. NT let alone OT.

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The Exodus story is larger than life, and the church saw it as a prefiguring of Christ delivering us from the bondage of sin. You guys probably know some hymns that allude to this idea.

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“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

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