Confronting OT Controversies– Part Sixteen

Confronting OT Controversies– Part Sixteen April 21, 2019

Q. Having spent a lot of time working with the Biblical Archaeology Society, I have run into quite a lot of interesting Jewish scholars, and lay persons interested in the history of Israel. What has really shocked me about many of them is their agnosticism not just about an historical exodus and conquering of Canaan, but even about Yahweh himself. And yet as you say, p. 102, this is the very foundation of Jews being a people, much less the chosen people of God. Probing further, it seems clear, reading Eli Wiesel and others, that the Holocaust has knocked the stuffings out of a lot of their beliefs about the Bible. Have you experienced anything like this? It seems odd that more Christians than Jews believe in the historical Exodus.

A. I haven’t spent as much time with Jewish scholars and lay people on this issue as you have, but my interactions indicate that the same dynamic obtains with Jewish scholars and laypeople as with Christians. That is there are those say the Exodus did not happen but it is still a valuable lesson in theology (Eric Cline) and those who say the Exodus did happen in a historical sense (Richard Elliot Friedman). I think maybe one of the differences is that at least in American Christianity there are more traditionalists than there are Jewish conservatives speaking in public about these subjects.

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