an atheist viewpoint

thoughts from a non-theist

Exodus? Exo-doesn’t more like

Here’s a questions for theists, what would you do if you discovered that the stories of the Old Testament, stories like the fall of Jericho, the slavery of the Jews in Egypt, even the Exodus itself didn’t happen? That far from entering the ‘Promised Land’ the Children of Israel had always lived there, that they were native Canaanites?

The Bible Unearthed by Finkelstein and Silberman presents a great deal of evidence for this version of the past, and in this article explains what is fundamentally wrong with the Bible narrative of the Exodus and conquest of the Promised Land –

“It is a story which, as it is presented in the Bible, definitely never happened. Archaeology shows that it has no historical grounds. Many of the sites that are cited in the story of the conquest were not even inhabited in the relevant period, so there was nothing to conquer, there were only hills and rocks. Jericho was not fortified and had no walls, and it’s doubtful that there was a settlement there at the time. Therefore, in the case of the story of the conquest of Arad, for instance, some scholars said that the war was fought against the forces of one Bedouin sheikh.

“If one does a calculation backward from the point at which we have historical documentation, such as the external Assyrian writings about the monarchy of Ahab, it turns out that the story of the biblical conquest would have occurred at the end of the 13th century BCE. At that time the Egyptians ruled in the land, but there is no mention of that in the Bible.

“There is a stela in a Cairo museum on which the word Israel first appears in written form. The son of Ramesses II launched a military expedition to Caanan and conquered Ashkelon and Gezer, and wrote the famous sentence, `Israel is spoiled, his seed is not.’ That was in 1207 BCE – after the conquest as related in the Bible.”– Israel Finkelstein, chairman of the Department of Archaeology, Tel Aviv University

Finkelstein is the kind of expert fundamentalist Christians hate, someone whose credentials can’t be faulted, a Jewish scholar who isn’t part of the ‘Atheist agenda’, and who even goes as far as saying

“I am a great believer in a total separation between tradition and research. I myself have a warm spot in my heart for the Bible and its splendid stories. During our Pesach seder, my two girls, who are 11 and 7, didn’t hear a word about the fact that there was no exodus from Egypt. When they are 25, we will tell them a different story. Belief, tradition and research are three parallel lines that can exist simultaneously. I don’t see that as a gross contradiction.” 

The finds of Finkelstein, along with countless other Israeli archaeologists, completely undermines not just the origins of Christianity, but the shared origins of the ancestor and descendent religions, Judaism, and Islam. If Abraham, Moses, Joshua, and many of the other figures of the Old Testament didn’t exist then the three main global religions have no foundations at all. The implications are catastrophic for all three faiths.

Going back even further than Finkelstein, ‘A History of God’ by Karen Armstrong explains the origins of Yahweh, going way back to his origins in Polytheism, when he was just one god of many for the people of the time. This video is a good introduction to Armstrong’s work

Armstrong is another nightmare for fundies, she’s a former nun.

The research done by Finkelstein, Silberman, Armstrong and many others shows that we don’t just have to look at the time of Jesus to show the Abrahamic faiths for what they are, and in fact clearly indicate that, if we go back further in time, a more thorough dismantling of Biblical claims can be made, one that is far harder to argue against for the faithful.

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