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Did Exodus really happen?

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Era Might
2 hours ago, Kia ora said:

Right...that's not conflict of interest or anything. ;)

 

I don't think Exodus has to be a historical event for the Christian story to be valid. Why would it?

Does Adam and Eve and the talking snake have to a historical event for the Christian story to be valid? Did God really make man out of clay and Eve out of his side?

I think how you approach the story does have implications for belief. If there is a supernatural God, what is his relationship to the real, historical world? There are ways to interpret (or re-interpret) stories, but once you start doing that, you are getting away from the idea of a personal God who has a relationship with the world, you are getting into literature, mythology, science, etc. Much in the way writers and artists during the Renaissance used classical mythology as a way to speak "about" the world -- they were able to use the mythology because it was no longer a real belief system, it was a symbolic stand-in for their world. Instead of speaking about God, they could speak about the gods, and they could avoid the complications of speaking about the God in a direct way which could open them up to trouble from the authorities, etc...the same way artists use stories to speak about politics and political rulers in an indirect way.

If the Exodus was symbolic, what becomes of a historical God, a God who rules the stars and intervenes with miracles and raises up prophets and saints and mystics, who guides the destinies of nations? What becomes of a Bible directly inspired, word-for-word, by God?

Edited by Era Might

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Kia ora
58 minutes ago, Era Might said:

 

If the Exodus was symbolic, what becomes of a historical God, a God who rules the stars and intervenes with miracles and raises up prophets and saints and mystics, who guides the destinies of nations? What becomes of a Bible directly inspired, word-for-word, by God?

 

Well then, we're up the creek. Because if what you say is true, that it´s all for naught unless it really happened, then my faith is for nothing and is nothing.

However, I do not think that. I don't think Christianity is false if Exodus didn't happen like the Bible says it did. 

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Era Might
1 hour ago, Kia ora said:

 

Well then, we're up the creek. Because if what you say is true, that it´s all for naught unless it really happened, then my faith is for nothing and is nothing.

However, I do not think that. I don't think Christianity is false if Exodus didn't happen like the Bible says it did. 

I'm not saying anything, just trying to point out the questions that it raises if you answer one way or the other. It's like the resurrection or the miracles...if you want to de-historicize it, that takes you down a certain path. But, at the same time, if you try to defend the Bible on historical grounds, you're going down another path...you're taking on the question on the terms of reason rather than faith.

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Kia ora

Well, let me be clear, I don't think we are dehistoricising anything. We are actually historicising the Bible, putting it in the context and time and place when its makers made it. I think people who want to say that everything in the Bible really happened are the ones dehistoricising it.

And I think this critical spirit that is the fruit of the last 300 years has done more to shed light on what really happened than 1700 years of what came before, as interesting and spiritually enlightening as all that was. That is to say, a spiritual and allegorical intrepretation of the Bible as developed by the Catholic Church is just as valid today as it was when it was first developped, but you can't deny it's not exactly historically accurate and it wasn't  meant to be.

We know more about what really happened now and we are in better condition to understand the Bible from a historical perspective than any Christian in history (including the earliest Christians, who were centuries removed from the events of the Old Testament). I see this as a blessing, not a curse...

 

 

 

Edited by Kia ora

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Era Might
36 minutes ago, Kia ora said:

Well, let me be clear, I don't think we are dehistoricising anything. We are actually historicising the Bible, putting it in the context and time and place when its makers made it. I think people who want to say that everything in the Bible really happened are the ones dehistoricising it.

And I think this critical spirit that is the fruit of the last 300 years has done more to shed light on what really happened than 1700 years of what came before, as interesting and spiritually enlightening as all that was. That is to say, a spiritual and allegorical intrepretation of the Bible as developed by the Catholic Church is just as valid today as it was when it was first developped, but you can't deny it's not exactly historically accurate and it wasn't  meant to be.

We know more about what really happened now and we are in better condition to understand the Bible from a historical perspective than any Christian in history (including the earliest Christians, who were centuries removed from the events of the Old Testament). I see this as a blessing, not a curse...

I don't see how historical criticism gives us any more religious insight. I think that the religious meaning of the story can only be understood if you take it literally. What use is a God if he has to be contextualized? Once you reach that point, God becomes an idea, a story, a myth, not a personal actor in human history. Historical criticism is about us, not about God. If religious stories are just myth-making, then what do we know about God? When does myth stop and God begin? If Exodus was a myth, what isn't a myth? What do we know about our own selves? Are we not just the stories we tell about ourselves?

 

Edited by Era Might

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Benedictus

I don't think most of the Bible stories happened 'exactly' as they are written. I do worry about people who take different genres of the Bible and turn them into a security blanket rooted in some sort of literal historical account. This fallacy of fundamentalism and reductionism has created so many problems for contemporary religion. These people build faith on sand based on false premises around what they expect from a book.  Ancient people didn't do religion like that. They were not stupid either -  they accepted narratives as divine and true without being exact. They looked for spiritual meaning, allegory and symbol to convey religious and philosophical  truth and experience.

The exodus may have some historical basis -  I think on a far less scale than written -  but  the importance, I think anyway, is in the spiritual meaning of slavery, exile, community, persistence and reliance on God. I don't care if its 'historical' or not. That's way down the list of importance it's not even secondary. If you think this is shocking then explore the authorship of some of the texts, such as some attributed to Paul that were probably not actually written by him. The reasons why this happened are many. This wasn't unusual or shocking to an historical audience but it can be for a contemporary audience. 

Life was lived through stories and narratives. God operates and conveys himself to us, first and foremost, as persons and communities. We then relate this to others through creative means:  stories, myths, laws, codes, art, culture etc.  God doesn't drop autographed books from the sky and he didn't tell the bible writers what to write word for word (despite what some think biblical inerrancy or authority is all about).

But that doesn't mean it is us bringing God into existence. It is us merely responding to his presence! God isn't limited to any book, person, people or place. He doesn't rely on us.  We simply have tools to gain a glimpse of him -  none are perfect. That's why Jesus is the key for Christians. 

 Have you not experienced God and owned it? Do you make Gods presence known too? You do it through the narrative of your life, right? Does how you convey Gods work in your life to others have to be limited or not exceed certain bounds to be accepted as true? If you write poetry or an inspired story based on your relationship with Jesus then is this trash? A future generation might assume your poetry is literal, historical, allegorical or that you didn't exist. But it dodges the reality of what is written and whether that conveys something of Gods reality to others :smokey:

 

 

Edited by Benedictus

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A Yearning Heart

There was a something on TV a while ago that made the suggestion that a volcano exploding across the other side of the Mediterranean Sea could have resulted in features similar to what the plagues of Egypt in the Exodus narrative were described as looking like. 

While I'm sure the point of the show was to discredit God's role in bringing the plagues in the Exodus story, it nonetheless was an interesting idea. 

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